What does Starbucks understand about customer loyalty? It’s captured in this photo I took this week at a local Starbucks. Customer loyalty is about the customer. To paraphrase Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in his book Onward, Starbucks places value on human connections and that is evident at every touchpoint. And I speak this not only as a marketer but also from personal experience. What Starbucks understands about customer loyalty is that it begins with creating experiences that show your customers that you value them.
As marketers, we observe that competition for the coffee drinking consumer is intense as chains such as Dunkin’ Donuts, QT and McDonalds introduce new flavors and even free coffee giveaways ( McDonalds and Chick-fil-a) designed to go head-to-head with Starbuck’s efforts and offerings. Offering free coffee is the antithesis of a customer loyalty strategy and for McDonalds at least what appears to be a an act of desperation.
Admittedly Dunkin’ Donuts has its own share of devoted fans, loyal to the Dunkin’ coffee brand, the America Runs on Dunkin’ campaign is all about grabbing coffee and a donut and running off someplace else. And that makes sense as evidenced by the interiors of Dunkin’ Donuts and the typically indifferent staff. Starbucks runs on customer loyalty fueled by a customer experience based upon a mission of customer connection.
I had two separate personal experiences with Starbucks this week, one in a store that is represented by the photo in the post and the other over the telephone to customer service. I had earned a reward from MyStarbucks, (one of the only rewards programs that I have found value in participating) but it had disappeared from my iPhone before I could use it. I decided to call customer service. The customer service representative with no questions asked, apologized for the “inconvenience of having to call” and replaced my reward in my account. And then she asked me to hold on for a few minutes because she had something else for me. It was the number one thing that creates customer loyalty, the unexpected Purple Cow: she added a $10 credit onto my card balance. Now, she had me at the apology and the replacement reward; but this expected credit made me feel like the customer of the week….and here I am, talking about it!
Don’t overlook opportunities to increase your customers’ loyalty.