Starbucks Serves Up Great Marketing as Well As Great Coffee

Yesterday, March 3, I had the privilege and honor to meet Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.  Schultz was visiting various downtown Chicago Starbucks stores, and the one I frequent – 600 N. State – was one of them.

The store staff quickly pointed me out to Mr. Schultz as one of their most loyal, and he asked me a couple of questions about my experiences with that Starbucks store.  I told him how I couldn’t have been more pleased with the customer service bestowed upon me by the partners at this Starbucks.  (Note: Starbucks refers to its store employees as partners – GREAT MARKETING!!).

Mr. Schultz impressed me much, but not by anything he said.  In fact, Mr. Schultz didn’t do much talking.  He did a lot of listening.   Schultz asked many questions, both to partners and to customers.  I was there to see it.  And I was never prouder to be a Starbucks regular.  Especially at the 600 N. State Street store.

Now, to set the record straight, I frequent several Starbucks stores, and I’m highly pleased with the service I get from all of them.  But at 600 N. State, the partners really know how to make their customers feel welcome and appreciated.

Under the stewardship of store manager Tiffany and assistant store manager Danielle, the partners consistently greet customers and get to know them by name.  They know us by our regular drinks and are quick to start preparing them.  They ask us about our lives, and share information about theirs when we reciprocate.  At 600 N. State, you feel more like a party guest than a paying customer.

The partners at 600 N. State all seem happy to be working there and come from all walks of life: white, black, Hispanic; young, middle-aged; straight, gay.  This store is all-inclusive, both in terms of staff and customers. 

Howard Schultz and the Starbucks chain exemplify great marketing principles, particularly:

  • That the most effective, least expensive marketing research is listening to your customers;
  • If you’re providing a service (and Starbucks delivers as much a service as it does a product), make sure your service providers – your partners – are happy.  Happy employees beget happy customers; and
  • That a happy customer becomes a regular customer and a happy regular customer becomes a referring customer.

Rock on Starbucks!


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