Give Employees the Power to Impress Customers

StarbucksYaro Starak’s blog post of his experience at Starbucks makes for great advertising. Starbucks empowers their employees to make good decisions and that’s the best advertising in the world.


Yaro ordered a tea and an oat brownie. He waited for it to arrive on the counter. After a few minutes he told the barista that he was still waiting for his tea. The Starbucks employee forgot. He quickly made the tea, apologized and handed him a piece of cardboard that said…


We apologize if your Starbucks experience was anything but wonderful. We want to know how we can make things better and always invite you to share your thoughts with us. The next time we see you, please enjoy a beverage, on us. We hope your next visit is better.


Simply brilliant!


Yaro might bring a friend in with him the next time he goes to Starbucks. Now that extra expenditure almost balanced itself out.


Yaro explained how he felt…


I waited about an extra minute longer for my tea than I should have. That is definitely not long enough for me to get angry and I was served very quickly once I notified them that my tea was missing.


Yet, despite this, the Starbucks policy is to offer a complimentary beverage even if their system is slightly out of whack. I walked away impressed that I scored a free beverage voucher, but not really because of the beverage itself, I was impressed with the customer service policy I just witnessed (hence I’m writing a blog post about it!).


Starbucks did not diminish in my eyes as a result of this incident. In fact they impressed me, so much so that I’m now writing a blog post that will be read by thousands of people proclaiming good things about Starbucks service (that’s some good word of mouth). Of course not every Starbucks customer has a blog they can rave to when something happens, but every person has friends and people they talk to, and this one policy of Starbucks will encourage word of mouth through normal social interaction too.


It all started because Starbucks empowers their employees to make the customer feel good. That’s the benefit to happiness at work. The employee corrects a mistake, the customer is happy after receiving a free voucher for something of such little inconvenience. Everyone feels good. The drinks that Starbucks make don’t cost that much so in reality they are probably losing less then a dollar on the whole transaction.


What can your company do?


If you are an electronics store you can’t give away a free TV, but you can give away a free $5 gift card or something else of small value like AA batteries that have your logo on them for their TV remote control.


It is up to your company to create the environment that promotes customer/client word of mouth. How many lawyers follow up with their clients after their case is closed? My guess would be less than 1%. Taking fifteen minutes to make a phone call to see how their client is doing may result in that client telling their friends about their great lawyer who really goes the extra mile.


Let’s look at the big picture


The great part is that Starbucks basically paid less than $3 for a thousand dollar promotion. Let’s also look at the chain reaction of Yaro’s article. Maybe someone out there is telling their friends about the blog post while they’re in a Starbucks sipping on a delicious Frappuccino, making the Starbucks brand even stronger.


Now I’m writing this post because Yaro’s post resonated with me. My readers will learn about the Starbucks employee happiness magic that other companies should create. This ripple effect could go on for weeks, months, and years. That’s how a company separates itself from the competition.


It doesn’t matter if you work for yourself or someone else. Employee marketing may be the most effective form of advertising. You’ll look good in the eyes of your boss and/or customers. Your company can also create a word of mouth campaign in your town by giving your employees a chance to improve a mistake. So what could your business do to allow its employees to impress the customers?


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Image courtesy of re-ality

8 thoughts on “Give Employees the Power to Impress Customers”

  1. Some Five Star Hotels also have the same policy. They give all their employees $2000.00 fund to re-imburse unhappy customers immediately. This is probably the reason why they are 5 Star.

    This notion also applies at my school. Teachers are empowered to make decisions about the direction of our school. As a result we have a return rate of 95%.

    chris’s last blog post..Trust

  2. Reasons like this are why we visit the same places over and over again. Starbucks is a great example – they get it. They get what it takes to keep the customer happy.

    I had a similar experience at an Applebee’s restaurant. When our food was brought out, they incorrectly brought one meal that was not right. When we brought it to their attention, they quickly got it fixed, and brought the right food. That would have been satisfactory. But they exceeded our expectations. We were given that one incorrect meal free, and all the other meals on the bill were discounted at 70% off. And then, on top of that, we were all given a free dessert. So, instead of leaving unhappy, or even merely satisfied, we left overjoyed. And have visited the same restaurant several times since then. They get it too – how to keep customers!

    Lance’s last blog post..Simple Fun

  3. Pingback: Customer Service in action or inaction | Footprints on the Mountainside

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