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!