Written by Baron Manett on April 19, 2012
in Customer Experience

I’m a huge coffee fan. In fact, I’ve been known – even in the snow and rain – to trudge to my local shop to grab a cup of my favourite brew. Of course, it isn’t the coffee that’s the real draw.

I keep going back to coffee shops like Starbucks because they make me feel welcome… and smart. Why smart? Because of all the brainy-looking folks working away on their laptops relaxing by the faux fire in their leather armchairs. That’s their key to success: a memorable brand experience that has me and other customers wanting more. Starbucks has mastered the art of brand experience. That’s why other coffee shops – big and small – are trying to recreate their magic.

Here’s what I think marketers can learn from Starbucks’ success:

Listen carefully: Ask your customer what they think and don’t get upset if it’s not all good. Starbucks has become a master at this. From online polls to free samples, Starbucks actively asks for customer input and uses that input to improve the customer experience.

Be passionate about great service: Forgot your wallet? No problem, your drink is on them. That’s memorable. That’s real customer service. And you can bet that customers will tell their friends about it.

Attract a crowd: Rather than shooing customers away once they’ve finished their beverage, Starbucks encourages people to linger – to make their premises a “third place” to hang out beyond work or home. This brings their brand to life. Think of it as a live television commercial – real people living out your brand. An advertising campaign could never replicate this kind of engagement.

Think beyond your product: Starbucks’ partnership with Apple iTunes is a brilliant example of this. By offering customers free music and app downloads they appear current. They are also collecting valuable information about their customers’ music tastes, which could later inform the artfully curated music collections they sell in-store.

So the next time you’re in your favourite store ask yourself what keeps you coming back. It’s likely not the products themselves but the total brand experience.

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