Starbucks CEO Gets It, Does Yours?


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When was the last time you got an email from your CEO suggesting that you need to be concerned about how your Customer feels? For the vast majority of you, my guess is your answer is never, unless of course you work at Starbucks. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sent a memo to his 190,000 retail employees and I think it’s brilliant—and a window into why Starbucks does such an excellent job with their experience.

When the stock market tanks like it did recently, most CEOs would be worried about their revenue also falling (not to mention falling figures from those CEO bonuses we all hear so much about).  Most are likely to suggest people need to work harder to weather the storm.

Not Schultz.

In a memo early September, Schultz decided to address the emotions both his employees and Customers feel in a falling market like the one we bore witness to earlier in the month.

To his employees, he said, “…although we are not immune from the global stock market selloff that has now made its way to Wall Street, my confidence in our company and in all of you has never been greater.”

About how we wanted his partners (retail employees) to treat Customers he said:

Today’s financial market volatility, combined with great political uncertainty both at home and abroad, will undoubtedly have an effect on consumer confidence and perhaps even our customers’ attitudes and behavior. Our customers are likely to experience an increased level of anxiety and concern. Please recognize this and – as you always have – remember that our success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn, every day. Let’s be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling, and do everything we can to individually and collectively exceed their expectations.”

I talk a lot about Customer-centricity of organizations. We use a model called Naïve to Natural that measures how an organization is oriented toward Customers, with the Naïve not having a Customer focus and the Natural having the most Customer focus. This communication to employees shows me a customer centric company that is lead by the top down on this principle.

I love the line that says, “success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn, every day.” Never truer words were spoken, particularly when you are addressing Customer Experience.

Customer Experiences happen in the moment, and these moments happen every day, every hour of operation, in every channel. In all of these moments, an employee can make or break a Customer Experience. This is why training and employee engagement are so key to its success. They need the tools and tactics at their disposal when these moments occur.

It is also why it so important to have the buy-in of your senior management and leadership teams for your Customer Experience agenda. This important training takes time and money, two things on which most leaders have a lot of opinions, especially about how they will be spent. Without this commitment, you could end up with a great plan that everyone ignores because it isn’t the priority at the moment.

I also like how his retail employees are considered partners. How employees feel about their job shows in the Customer Experiences they provide. When they feel they are a valued member of the team, it shows. Schultz understands this in the way he refers to them and also with key phrases like “my confidence in all of you.”

Schultz understands that Employees and Customers feel emotions caused by the world around them and these emotions affect their behavior. He values his Customers enough to care how they feel coming into his experience and takes steps to help his employees have the appropriate tools to react. He also leads his Customer-centric culture by example. He works to ensure employees felt valued and cared for so they will continue to deliver the experience that makes Customer feel valued and cared for. When it comes to Customer-centricity, there is no question that he gets it.

Does your CEO get it, too?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


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