Starbucks – This is Not About Training

starbucks-closing-stores.jpgI applaud the leadership of Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks. As you may know, Starbucks closed all 7,100 of their stores yesterday for a 3 1/2 hour training session. Here is a short excerpt from Mr. Schultz introductory remarks:

“This is not about training,” he said to his employees, looking somewhat somber. “This is about the love and compassion and commitment that we all need to have for the customer.”

I like to remind myself that “A business without customers is not a business.” Customers define your business. Attracting and retaining customers is the number one job of every employee. Starbucks is selling much more than coffee. It is selling the “Starbucks Experience.”  And recently, customers – as well as the CEO – have found that experience to be lacking.

Mr. Schultz and others had a mission and a vision to elevate coffee from a commodity (10 cents a cup and free refills) to a lifestyle choice. He wanted to recreate the experience he enjoyed on a trip to Italy, sipping espresso in a cafe. He wanted to create a sensual experience for customer when they visited a Starbucks location. He wanted to create a sense of theatre as the barista prepared each special beverage. He wanted the exchange between the barista and the customer to be personal.

This is what Mr. Schultz had to say  (in a recent memo) about the present state of Starbucks:

…one of the results has been 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. In fact, I am not sure people today even know we are roasting coffee. You certainly can’t get the message from being in our stores.

Definitely time to wake up and smell the coffee!

I promised to go out to my local Starbucks first thing this morning in order to observe any immediate changes as a result of yesterday’s training. It’s now time to go … I’ll report on my experience later today.

Let me know what you think on this topic. Share your experience with our readers.

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