Starbucks Case Study: Great Customer Relations + Good Coffee = Success!

I was studying at my local Starbucks (I have about three in my immediate area) the other day and I overheard a unique conversation. This conversation took place between a patron and a barrista. The patron, obviously a regular customer due to his reception at the bar, was commenting on how he did not understand the success of Starbucks. “How can a company be so successful by charging three dollars for a cup of coffee when a person can buy the same drink for seventy-nine cents from the convenience store,” he asked. The barrista warmly smiled back and said, “I don’t know.” After a few more minutes of conversation, the two waved to each other and said their good-byes. It was at this moment that I started to smile because the answer to the patron’s question was staring him in the face, he was just too blind (or too close) to see it. The answer is great customer relations.

An old girlfriend of mine, who worked at Starbucks, told me that employees are instructed during training to remember the regulars’ names and to be friendly and energetic towards everyone. Thus the employees help produce a friendly, casual atmosphere. So friendly that many people rather meet their friends at Starbucks than at their own homes!

Starbucks employees are generally very helpful as well. I have seen customer after customer ask barristas how to make their favorite drink at home. Every barrista asked has always taken the time to thoroughly describe the process and has never said, “Sorry, I’m too busy.” I have even seen barristas give free drinks and various drink related trinkets to regular customers.

Starbucks obviously values great customer relations. Unlike many companies who claim that good customer relations is priority-one but often fail to prove it, Starbucks continually lives up to this claim. That is why they are successful. Well, that and good coffee!

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10 Responses to “Starbucks Case Study: Great Customer Relations + Good Coffee = Success!”


  1. 1 Flackette May 1, 2006 at 9:23 pm

    So true, Michael. I worked for Peet’s Coffee & Tea for five years and I can say for certain that it was the relationships that kept people coming back. I met customers that had been going to Peet’s for their coffee for 30 years! It’s amazing what a little customer TLC can do to boost the success of a company.

  2. 2 Michael Sommermeyer May 3, 2006 at 5:21 am

    I was thinking about this very subject after a terrible experience at a resort in Carlsbad, California. It is incredible how businesses fail to see how important it is to go out of their way to make the customer feel like a King. After messing up my accomodations, failing to make it right and taking two days to force out an apology, I thought about my local Starbucks and wondered why the resort staff didn’t get it! Anyway, I believe the key component to successful public relations is remembering to treat the customer with respect, go out of your way to meet their needs and seek out opportunities to help. Starbucks meets all of my criteria flawlessly.

  3. 3 Lou Nally March 3, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Several weeks ago I wrote to you requesting a drive-through store in the Middletown area of Louisville Kentucky. My friends and I do not like having to go to the Kroge store to get a cup of your delicious Latte. This community is full of young executives, plus seniors who enjoy your coffee. Also, I have friends who would like to know when you are going to make K-cups for their Keurig coffee makers. Having owned a business with my husband for 30 years, I know how important it is to listen to the consumer and try to give them what they want. Our community is pushing everyone to buy Dunkin Donuts brand of coffee and they are even selling it in our local groceries. I don’t care for that brand; I prefer Starbucks!

    Thank you for your consideration,

    Lou Nally

  4. 4 fies November 13, 2008 at 12:58 am

    Thank for share your knowleadge. I am a student of MBA and doing to do project about starbuck.

    Thank
    Fies

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  6. 6 michelle May 8, 2012 at 8:34 am

    yes i agree great customer service, that up to today a staff member is having an affair with my husband.

  7. 7 Sam August 12, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Very helpful for the project on Good Customer Experience I am doing. Thanks

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Who am I ?

My name is Michael Morton. I believe in bringing energy and professionalism into the office, that knowledge is power, that leadership trumps management, that customers are more influential than advertisements, that content is king, and that two heads are better than one. I currently lead the marketing efforts of the Strategic Alliances department of my company. Let’s talk marketing!

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