All right. What’s up, guys? I believe that success leaves clues. One of the things that I like to do on a pretty regular basis is go to my nearby Starbucks. I was in a bookstore and there was a book that caught my eye called The Starbucks Experience and how we can take the lessons from Starbucks and apply them to our own business. I got some great notes. Let’s dive in. All right, I’m going to be going over five principles today and these principles will help you make your own Starbucks. Now, I don’t think any of us on the call are building a coffee shop, including me, but I do want to talk about how we can take what Starbucks did and apply it to our business. The first principle I want to talk about is making it your own. In other words, I want people who look at your business to see something unique, something customized about your business, the way you do things. Now, that could be the customer experience.

One of the things that Starbucks did that was different when they first broke into the coffee scene is they focused on friendliness, on being really welcoming, on remembering people’s names. On making it feel like when they walked into Starbucks, they were walking into somebody else’s living room and not walking into a cold business. How can we take that? Now, for me, one of the things that I do to try to be welcoming and make people feel comfortable is not only do I try to remember people’s names, but I keep notes on little things that they mentioned in conversations like their favorite sports teams, or their kids, different things like that. That way I can bring it up in future conversations. The other thing about making it your own that they go over in the book is being genuinely supportive of your team. Again, this is something that Starbucks really focuses on. They want to build up their team. This is huge. I see it a little bit in the interactions behind the counter, and I didn’t know about the company mantra here, but this is something that we can all take into consideration.

Being supportive of the people on our team no matter how “far down the totem pole” they are. It’s important for the Starbucks executives that the people that are making the coffee and the people that are cleaning up the restrooms, every single person feels like they have ownership in how well that store does and that they feel like they are being not only paid fairly … which up for discussion. That’s not the purpose of this. But also supported into their other future endeavors. Like one of the things that Starbucks is doing is they have a program where they’re paying for college, which is pretty wild. But the idea is just to let their team members know that they’re supported. So how can we support the people that are in our universe, that are on our team, that are helping us build our business, whether that’s an employee, a referral partner, et cetera? One of the keys here that Starbucks goes over and the author of The Starbucks Experience talks about is listening. Listening is just one part of creating a connection with customers and our team.

Businesses also need to discover each customer’s needs and unique situation, and then find a way to meet those needs. The Starbucks Experience, one of the things that again is different … Now, today we’re used to it. This is normal because Starbucks made it the normal, but they allow you to customize your drink each and every time you go in with different levels of sugar, syrup, add shots, et cetera. My favorite drink is a venti white mocha with two add shots and one less pump of white mocha. That was pretty specific, right? So that’s how they make the Starbucks experience different for me than any other coffee shop around. There’s just a different … The coffee just tastes different. I just know like, “Well, this is a Starbucks drink.” So let’s go over to the second thing. Principle two of what made Starbucks stand out is that everything matters. Attention to detail occurs by design, not by default. Attention to detail is something that is ingrained, ingrained in your company, is ingrained in every step of the sequence from the people walking through the door in your company. Maybe that’s filling out a form online.

And the pre walking from the door to the counter. In other words, maybe you have an appointment set up. What is that experience like from the time that they meet you to the time they set the appointment? When they’re talking to somebody, is every single detail something that you pay attention to as far as how you are setting up that experience? It is very much dialed in at Starbucks. There’s even little things like how the counter is usually all the way in the back. So you’re walking by tables and other customers to get all the way to the counter where you order it. That is by design. Now, how do you and your business attend to the details? Where can you execute more consistently on detail so the people will talk about you? Not only the experience but also they want to bring their friends in to see it, to see you, they want to share you with the people that are in their network. It all comes down to the small things.

One of the things that I started to do and as I was reading Starbucks Experience, I was like, “All right, cool, we’re doing that.” One of the things that we started to do is after people buy from us, we started sending them little gifts in the mail during that first 30 days. So initially they would get a nice card that walks them through how to execute on the campaign that we started for them. Now, could we have saved money by not sending this big card and package in the mail and just sent it over email? Yes, but I wanted the experience to be high quality, top notch experience. And so that’s what they get. When has your customer experience been compromised by missing details even when the product you received was a quality one? Ask yourself these questions, “Do my customers know that I care?” And if you don’t tell them that you care, they don’t know that you care. Because we as the business owner go, “Of course they know. I did my very best. I delivered everything that I said I would.”

But do they know that you care about their business and about their continued stream of referrals? Do they? Because if … One of the main reasons why people leave to go work with somebody else is perceived indifference. And so you need to address that head on. “Do my people know that I care?” Here’s some ideas to think about. Missing details produce dissatisfied customers who go elsewhere. And you know this. I mean, you could walk in, you can have an amazing experience at a restaurant and you can be seated promptly. You can be sitting down in a comfortable chair. The food could be great, the server could smile at you. But if they don’t refill that water when they go by, if your drink sits there empty, that one part of the experience takes you from somebody who is satisfied even though every other thing in the experience was well. But if that water doesn’t get refilled, you walk out of there going, “Man, I do not feel like they paid attention to me.” Important details live in both which is seen and that which is unseen by the customer.

There is really no way to hide poor quality, that sticks out like a sore thumb. And as you go about building your business, building your team, building your processes, making sure the customer experiences is dialed in, everything matters. The details and the small will directly impact your results with future business with that customer. Let’s go on to number three, surprise and delight. And I love this. I love surprise and delight. It comes with the gifts in the mail that we send to people, the unexpected phone calls that we give. People love it. Marketing agencies are known, unfortunately, as businesses that are just like a one and done. We are trying to change the game by creating lifelong relationships. Now, one of the things that the author says is, “Many companies focus too much on the basic ingredients and not adding that extra something that differentiates them from their competition and fuels brand loyalty.”

I had to write that one down because that was such a good quote. “Many companies focus too much on the basic ingredients …” In other words, the bare minimum, “… doing what the customer ordered. And they don’t focus enough on adding that extra something that differentiates them from their competition and fuels brand loyalty.”

I want to spur some questions at you. I want to throw some questions at you, spur some thought. Number one, when is the last time you were pleasantly surprised by a business? I’ll share some of mine. I got a package in the mail, which by the way, I’m doing that now. Because I was so pleasantly surprised this guy was reaching out to me, he wanted me to be a Dream 100 partner of his, come alongside him in growing his business.

He kept sending me Facebook messages, I wasn’t interested, and a gift showed up in the mail from him. It was just blew me away and I was like, “Wow, this is amazing.” I was pleasantly surprised by that and it spurred me to take action. Now, another question, what memories do you have of unexpected extras that you’ve encountered as a customer or as a staff member. Now, were those surprises preplanned or spontaneous?

For me, one of the other surprises that come to mind is at Disneyland. There’s just so many things they do well at Disneyland. I think there’s an entire book and podcast series about how well they set up that customer experience. But if just felt like every little thing that was happening in that park for my customer experience, from the time I walked through the gate, greeted by people taking photos, there was so many characters around, the park was so clean.

There was just so many things where I was like, “Man, this is probably one of the nicest experiences I’ve had and it’s in a theme park, which is supposed to be dirty and disgusting.” And it was just amazing. So, how can we take that though? I like to look at things like that, I like to walk on Disneyland and go, “Okay, I’m feeling really well taken care of here and I feel like this is a great experience. What can I do? How can I model this in my own business?”

A question for you to ask is, what can you do to positively surprise a coworker or a customer, and who can you partner with to deliver surprises? For me, I like to partner with other businesses and say, “This is something I’m doing. Can you help me take this to the next level? Whether it’s if I know somebody you know is a huge fan of a coffee shop, I like to go, “Okay, I’d like a gift card delivered.” And then, when they come in and pay for it, I like a something waiting there. If I know they’re coming in every morning at 9:00 AM or something, I want something to waiting there, like, “Oh, Alex has this for you.” How cool is that?

So, ask yourself that. Unconventional surprises are often the best. And what I mean by that is it’s something different. A lot of people expect happy birthday meals now. At restaurants, it’s this expected thing like, “It’s my birthday, what do I get for free?” But the ones that are surprises are the best. One other thing to think about when you’re talking about creating surprise and delight, one of the things that delight people that we don’t talk about a lot is… Consistency is one of those things…

Consistency and the predictability is something that stands out in a customer experience. Delighting customers even when things go wrong, that stood out to me as I was reading the book. Delighting customers even when things go wrong. Mistakes happen. For me, I remember when I went to Starbucks, and the book is called Starbucks Experience [inaudible 00:03:51] Starbucks references, but I remember when I went to a Starbucks and they messed up my drink and I was like, “Oh, man, this is not good. I cannot drink this.”

I walked up to the counter, I said, “Hey, I just want you to know I think you messed up my drink a little bit.” I don’t know if maybe they forgot to put it in the white mocha, but just tastes a lot more bitter than what I was expecting. She’s like, “You know what, no problem. I’ll get you a new one.” And she took my drink, made a new one, delivered it to me almost… I was first in the queue and I was like, “Wow.” I felt really taken care of. And it just made me as a customer feel great, feel seen.

So, what can we do when things go wrong? How do we respond? Do we respond and say, “You know what, taking care of you is my first priority.” Or do we get defensive? And for me, the Starbucks experience, they did not get defensive? They said, “You know what, no problem.” They didn’t question it. They didn’t say, “how did you order it? What language did you use when talking to the barista?” None of that. It was, “We’re going to fix it and make it right.” And they did.

So, let’s go to principle number four. Principle number four is embracing the resistance. And this is one of the things that I have a hard… This isn’t fun like, “Yay, we’re going to come across things that suck. Let’s make it better.” A problem is a window to a possibility. And for me, some of the biggest problems that I’ve come across open the doors to possibilities and partnerships that I never would have been looking for. One of the questions in the Starbucks Experience book that I really like is where have you missed opportunities to strengthen relationships with others by simply listening to their discontent?

This is huge. Let’s go to that Starbucks experience where they messed up my drink. They didn’t defend themselves, they weren’t questioning me. They did everything, they responded promptly, they apologized even if you know they may have questioned whether or not it was they were in the wrong, and they just fixed it and they delivered the next drink to me as quickly as possible and it was top notch.

We have opportunities when things come up to either strengthen a relationship or dissolve a relationship. What does that look like? Now, let’s talk about within team members. I don’t know who I talked to at the Starbucks counter. Maybe that was a manager and one of their people screwed up. Well, let’s put you in that shoe. You’re the manager of getting feedback right now. How gracefully do you model a willingness to embrace the problems that are happening and accept responsibility?

From the customer side, they don’t care who is responsible on the team for things not going well. They just want it fixed. It’s the same thing for your customers. They don’t care who’s responsible for it, they don’t care why it’s not working. They just want it fixed. So, fix it. So, when things come up like this, it’s an opportunity for you to strengthen the relationship with your customer to make sure that things are righted. Do it the right way the next time. In what ways can you use the criticism directed at you or your company to improve you or your team? Now, there are always going to be things that come up, but how are you going to fix it? How are you going to address it?

Let’s go over the last principle, principle number five, which is leave your mark and I love this. I’ll go over this one briefly. I highly recommend picking up the book, it’s a good one. Successful business leaders realize that a key part of their success is leaving a powerful and positive mark on their communities. What are you doing to leave a powerful and positive mark on your team, on your customers, and the people around you? What does that look like to you? How are you leaving a mark?

So, think about what are you doing right now for leaving a mark for members of your team, maybe so you could do something different? Maybe it’s investing in a book a month for members of your team or referral partners. How about your customers? What can you do to leave a mark? What little things can you do for them that will make the entire experience better?

Did you know that getting involved in your community could be a great way for you to leave a mark? Just volunteering, having a company volunteer day once a quarter, little things like that. One of the things they mentioned in the book is employee morale is three times higher in companies where community involvement is an integral part of the business model. I thought that was interesting. Here at the Branning Group, we really encourage every single person on the team to be involved in their local community, their local church.

And I was like, “Oh, that’s cool. It actually does help.” But also I looked at, okay, what can I do? Instead of encouraging people to do things on their own, maybe I can encourage us to do some community activism or volunteerism as a company. It spurred me to questions. The last thing, you can be the change that you want to see in the world. Whether that’s in how people treat their employees, referral partners, et cetera, change can start with you and bleed out elsewhere.

I hope this podcast was a little bit longer. There’s some really good content here. The book is called the Starbucks Experience, highly recommend it. It was phenomenal. I’ll talk to you guys later. See you next week. Please subscribe.


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