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5 Ways How To Connect With Your Customers, Your Products, and Your People.

5 Ways How To Connect With Your Customers, Your Products, and Your People.

How Starbucks forges bonds with customers by following five principles:


1. “Savor and Elevate”

  • Design – The company designs its stores from the customer’s perspective and streamlines work processes so baristas can focus on patron interaction.
  • Sensory factors – The atmosphere includes pleasant sensory elements: music, artwork, and the aromas of coffee and of food.
  • Listening – Managers solicit customers’ input and adapt to their needs.

To engage workers and customers in your business:

  • Increase employee levels of product knowledge.
  • Use ongoing training to maintain staffers’ passion and build their knowledge.
  • Initiate programs that recognize expertise or excellence.
  • Ensure that employees can articulate the company’s mission. Create drills that enable them to experience the customer’s point of view.
  • Assess your retail environment – from your customer’s perspective – in terms of uncluttered design, sensory factors and efficient processes.

2. “Love to Be Loved”

To build your organization into a trusted and most loved brand:

  • Support your employees’ physical, financial and emotional well-being.
  • Look into strategic partnerships with universities or other organizations to enhance your employee benefits program.
  • Institute procedures to listen to your employees.
  • Develop and promote a service guarantee; empower your employees to fulfill your organization’s service standards.

3. “Reach for Common Ground”

Starbucks considers these customer needs universal:

  • “Attention” – The employee “acknowledges a customer’s presence and starts a human connection.”
  • “Appreciation” – Staff members thank customers, invite them back or otherwise communicate appreciation for their business.
  • “Community” – The business contributes to the well-being of the community, such as motivating employees to volunteer for community service.
  • “Comfort and variety” – The store provides predictable consistency in its quality and appearance, and mixes in motifs from local architecture.

To enter foreign markets successfully:

  • Determine the universal needs that your business can meet.
  • Insure that employees give every customer attention and show their appreciation.
  • Consider causes or events that could unify customers, the community and employees.
  • Determine which essential aspects of your product or service should remain unchanged in global markets. Consider how to introduce variations or new products.
  • Seek partnerships with local businesses to help you fit in to the area’s culture.

4. “Mobilize the Connection”

To expand your business beyond your storefront:

  • Identify your key points of customer contact and consider new settings where you can serve them.
  • Develop a digital connection based on trust, relevance and connection.
  • Come up with multiple ways for customers to pay – like payment cards or mobile apps.
  • Integrate “game theory” into customer loyalty programs. Starbucks worked with Lady Gaga on a scavenger hunt that involved decoding in-store clues using mobile “QR readers” and by visiting the company’s websites and blogs.
  • Create and empower an employee position to run your social media presence.
  • Serve the needs of other businesses so they will sell or distribute your products.
  • Motivate clients to widen the range of products they buy and to use those products in new settings.

5. “Cherish and Challenge Your Legacy”

To take the long view with your business:

  • Determine whether the strengths most responsible for your success might restrict further growth.
  • Balance in-house “operators” with “innovators.”
  • Be willing to take big risks on new products and processes.
  • Evaluate new ideas by asking whether they make sense for your employees, your customers and your business.
  • Institute guidelines for ethical sourcing.
  • Identify social causes in which your company and staff could participate.


Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles for Connecting with Your Customers, Your Products and Your People Book Cover Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles for Connecting with Your Customers, Your Products and Your People
Joseph Michelli
Business & Economics
McGraw Hill Professional
September 3, 2013
The “chief experience officer” of the Michelli Experience consultancy and hosts the Michelli Experience podcast.

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 Joseph A. Michelli is an organizational consultant who focuses on intersections of business, leadership, and workplace productivity. He is the bestselling author of The Starbucks Experience, The New Gold Standard, Prescription for Excellence, and The Zappos Experience. One of today’s leading thinkers on the topic of customer experience, Michelli also speaks to corporate audiences approximately 60 times a year.

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