Last Wednesday, Starbucks, the coffee company, released its first quarter results. They showed a four-fold increase over the same quarter last year against, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, a fairly appalling economic background. You can read the commentary in the New York Times for yourself.
As someone who doesn’t follow the company, I find this renaissance absolutely extraordinary. The two most recent things I recall about Starbucks is the company (falsely) being accused of not supporting American troops in the Gulf, and the furore over wasted water from ‘rinsing’ taps being left permanently ‘on’ in stores.
Obviously, and I’ve done a little light research, there has been stuff going on behind the scenes – and the return of Howard Schultz to the top job has obviously paid dividends – but I find the reasoning laid out in this post (on the Corporate Eye blog) particularly resonant.
In brief, top-line summary, it argues that the Starbucks turnaround has been driven by paying attention to employees. It cites an HR Guru, Kevin Wheeler and his Five Steps to Making Your Company Memorable:
- Gain perspective and know yourself
- Define the promise
- Develop a strategy
- Create a “buzz” to communicate your brand
- Measure your progress
More than this – and this where I find myself violently agreeing – it’s about applying these same principles to your customer relations. What works for getting and keeping staff, works for getting and keeping punters.
And as, of course, this wouldn’t be my blog without a quick pop at social media – Starbucks appear to have achieved this dramatic success without too much Facebookishness of Twittery (they have 5.6m fans and 765k followers respectively). Have a look at their Facebook page, and gauge for yourself the quality of the conversation – visit their Twitter feed and (sorry Brad) well, it’s not exactly a marketer’s wet dream.
No – my feeling is that Starbucks has achieved this through good ol’ traditional communication, traditional face-to-face and lashings of loyalty-building.
I never though I’d see the day when Big Coffee would become a case history. An example of best practice ‘how to do it’ des nos jours.
Hats off, blog snorkellers.