What IS the Starbucks Customer Experience?

cup_of_beans.jpg  I’ve been asked by Becky Carroll of Customers Rock!, who is joining Jay Ehret (Marketing Spot) on a project to track Howard Shultz’s efforts to get back to focusing on customers and the Starbucks experience.

For my contribution, I got to thinking if Howard feels the Starbucks experience has slipped since he left the company, what really IS the Starbucks experience?  Because if you are going to improve it you have to define it and be able to measure it.

It seems the Starbucks experience is about these 3 P’s:

  1. People– the baristas and their connection with customers. 
  2. Place – the physical stores, their design and aroma
  3. Product – the beverages, food, and merchandise

I set out to see what I could find from Starbucks and Howard himself on how the Starbucks experience is defined.  Using their press release, and interview from Fortune magazine, and this post from the Starbucks Gossip blog, I’ve come up with the following to give us some into what the the Starbucks experience is all about:

  • (People & Product) Customer connection and a fresh, hand-made beverage.  The newer automatic machines (Verisimo?) that replaced the La Marzoccos are faster, but “blocked the visual sight line the customer previously had to watch the drink being made, and for the intimate experience with the barista.”  It seems that the personal connection between the baristas and the customers is the core of their experience.
  • (Place) The aroma.  “… the loss of our people scooping fresh coffee from the bins and grinding it fresh in front of the customer, …”  Some say the sale of hot food has detracted from the coffee aroma that customers attach to Starbucks stores. 
  • (Place) Store design.  Design of their stores had taken on a more streamlined feel to gain efficiencies.  But that resulted in the stores losing their charm and uniqueness.  Starbucks has “stores that no longer have the soul of the past and reflect a chain of stores vs. the warm feeling of a neighborhood store. Some people even call our stores sterile, cookie cutter, no longer reflecting the passion our partners feel about our coffee.”
  • (Product) Coffee related merchandise.  As a purveyor of fine coffee and tea, Starbucks has struggled as of late to get their merchandise to reflect their brand and their history. “Some stores don’t have coffee grinders, French presses from Bodum, or even coffee filters.”

This is just a sampling of what makes up the Starbucks experience.  I’ll keep you updated on our project as we gain more insight and see progress at Starbucks.  I’ll close with this quote from Howard Schultz that best sums it up for now:

“Bottom line is we can’t exceed expectations of shareholders unless we exceed the expectations of customers first. And we do both by inspiring our partners and refocusing them on the customer.”

Photo credit


24 Responses

  1. […] Schwartz from CustomerU: “What is the Starbucks Experience?”  and “The Starbucks Customer FEEDBACK […]

  2. […] Schwartz: “What is the Starbucks Experience?” and “The Starbucks Customer FEEDBACK […]

  3. Hey thats great your talking about the Starbucks experience, I love Starbucks!

    Check out my blog post with a Video I made interviewing customers about their Starbucks experience!


    Keep up the good work!!!

  4. Jordan – Thanks for the comment, and sharing the video. It’s interesting how more people in your video focused on the product than the atmosphere. Good quality video…

  5. […] Starbucks prides itself on providing impeccable customer satisfaction and service. Here is a list of the three main points that contribute to the so-called Starbucks experience as put together by Customer U: […]

  6. This sucked trying to find the customer survey on my recipt ???????????????? So that I could get a validation code what is with this web site that makes it so hard to find your site.

  7. I am a big starbucks fan. I am actually not big physically – but a big fan. I have been noticing the doonesbury cartoons lately about starbucks customers “Pack’in” and wondering what gives.
    I have just learned from an NRA magazine that starbucks does indeed have a policy of allowing customers to carry legally carried guns. I don’t see any harm in this as long as everyone plays it safe. As doonesbury’s baristo say’s “check that safety before we caffinate.” Thank you.

  8. I am a devoted Starbucks customer and have been for many years!!! How bad you got it…….I have the Pike Place Flagship store photo that was retired in the stores In May 2008, hanging in my house!!! Anyway, I travel five days per week by vehicle and my travel stops, hotel stays are based around Starbucks locations. Hotels have booklets that list all of their locations. I have two-three hotel chains I frequent regularly and I would find it very helpful to have a similar directory of all Starbucks locations.

  9. I am a big fan of Starbucks. I am honestly visiting the one in near my house everyday.
    yesterday, I was visiting the Glen one after dinner with my family.. I ordered cold beverage for myself and kids drink for my son. I ordered cold milk for kid size. and the lady filled up just a half of cup that left in the milk container. and she just throw the empty milk container on the floor right infront of me. and she gave me only half of the cup of milk. I said “can you fill full?” and she said very mean with mad face “you want whole cup?” and she opened another milk container and filled. what was that mean?
    I paid full but have just a half cup because milk container empty and she doesn’t want open for another container? with bad attitude? I was frustraing and felt very upset. and right after she treated next customer with smile. I felt discrimination too. the Glen one is very crowded and walked a lot of time for shopping and stop by for the drink. this is crazy and uncomfortable feeling that I never felt since I visit the starbucks. I was so angry that I could hardly command my temper.

  10. To Kelly,
    Yes that was very rude of the barista…but for the love of God PLEASE proof read what you are writing before you submit! Are your speaking skills as bad as your written skills! My goodness! The barista probably wasn’t being rude so much as she couldn’t understand what the heck you were saying!!!!!

  11. I travel in California. Got to spend a day off in Oakhurst Starbucks (40208 Hwy 41 Oakhurst, CA 93644),a little town, while volunteering in a meditation center near by, in an even smaller town.

    The day I arrived they had a staff meeting here at night to decorate the coffee shop for Christmas. Thy let me stay and use the Wifi while all shifts employees are decorating around me.

    The next day when I came in the shift manager greeted and remembered me and offered a sample of the Christmas spiced coffee. We chatted over the coffee and she showed me around while we take apart and learn the Christmas patented cups and thermoses.

    I sat and worked and then asked for a cup of hot water to pour in my minute made soup I brought with me, she happily helped while suggesting a big ceramic mug rather then a paper one. and gave me a spoon too.

    Later the other shift manager came by and apologized that I had to bear the hectic decoration evening the day before and gave me a free voucher for any drink I choose !

    I remained speechless. The feeling was so personal for a chain shop that I wondered whether they thought was a restaurant inspector / a Starbucks undercover mystery shopper 🙂

    Never expected to find such a family like group of corporate employees ad such a compassionate and warm service.

    Thank you for making my day off !

  12. To Steph Marinelli –

    Did you ever consider that English may not be Kelly’s first language? You do understand that the internet is worldwide? Think before you speak.

  13. у вашего сайта прикольный дизайн, сами делали?

    бесплатное генеалогическое древо

  14. […] The picture of a Starbucks logo is more than just a picture before everyone have a handy camera phone, we usually don’t document our daily activities in life in the past, now with a camera phone, we share our experiences even if it is just having a simple cup of coffee. Starbucks is all about experience and is based on 3P’s – People, Place and Products. Customer connection and a fresh, hand-made beverage is part of people and product experience as it is a personal connection between the baristas and the customers is the core of their experience. To find out more please visit (https://customeru.wordpress.com/2008/02/07/what-is-the-starbucks-customer-experience/) […]

  15. […] https://customeru.wordpress.com/2008/02/07/what-is-the-starbucks-customer-experience/ Comments […]

  16. […]  https://customeru.wordpress.com/2008/02/07/what-is-the-starbucks-customer-experience/ Share this:TwitterFacebookVind ik leuk:LikeBe the first to like this. Dit bericht werd geplaatst […]

  17. The following post, “What IS the Starbucks Customer Experience?

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    ” displays the fact that you actually fully understand just what exactly you r talking about!
    I actually totally agree. With thanks -Vance

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  22. […] Joseph Michelli outlines that a huge share of the success of a trendy Seattle-based coffee shop that has turned into a lucrative international franchise comes from its creation of experience for customer and business culture. Michelli recognizes five fundamental values (‘make it your own,’ ‘everything matters,’ ‘surprise and delight,’ ‘embrace resistance,’ and ‘leave your mark’) that forms the success formula for the Starbucks culture and provides a number of anecdotes based on how the company and its employees have reinforced their connection with customers. […]

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