Starbucks Posts

Coffee Bean: Customer Focused every day

I have high expectations for new businesses.

I have an expectation when entering a new store that I’ll be treated like royalty. I want that business to do everything they can to show me that I am a valued customer.

Frequently, this lofty ideal is crushed, leaving me departing the venue dejected, despondent; a new business’ worst nightmare.

I’ll tell my friends about my miserable experience, enlightening them about all that went wrong.

Coffee Bean's not just serving coffee, but memories.

Coffee Bean’s not just serving coffee, but memories.

On a sunny Monday morning in Austin, Texas, a shining, triumphant new business star was born. Nothing went wrong.

A new Coffee Bean Tea & Leaf store opened in our neighborhood, and my wife and I were eager to give the store a try.

Opening the door for my wife, we were serenaded with welcomes from the staff: “Hello, how are you today? Welcome, it is great to see you.”
We may have come in strangers, but we felt welcomed within an instant.

What store makes this a common practice? In most in-store experiences, it’s tough to get eye contact with an employee. This interaction, though, was authentic, engaging, breathtaking, refreshing.

After ordering our drinks, we relaxed in soft, cushiony chairs; the sunlight threw long shadows across the spotless floor.

Nearby, a young woman looked frustrated at her laptop. Within seconds, a Coffee Bean employee appeared: “Are you having trouble connecting to the WIFI? Let me help you.” The woman’s scowl disappeared; a fresh, surprised smile grew across her face.

Was this really happening? Employees that appeared happy to work there, and happy to please – there is hope for customers.

Our drinks arrived quickly. My wife couldn’t stop commenting on the flavor in her Latte. My coffee tasted fresh, not burnt. A few minutes passed, and a friendly employee asked: “Would you like a glass of ice water?”

If this is the new standard for service, I am a believer. Don’t just give me what I expect; blow me away with kindness; go out of the way to show you care.

Sadly, the day was too nice to stay at the Coffee Bean. The calendar said January, but the weather shouted April. As we left, the manager stopped by our chairs, thanked us for coming, picked up our glasses, and gave a hug to a young woman with her children.

“It’s great to see you again. Thanks for coming back,” he told the young woman.

“It’s great to be here. What a nice day it is today, “ the woman responded.

Another customer dazzled by attention, care, diligence, friendliness.

Give Coffee Bean a try. I hope your experience is a pleasant one. If it’s anything like our recent experience, you’ll come back for more.

Idea for Coffee Bean: Not sure of the return on investment for those loyalty clubs, but how about starting a Coffee Bean rewards club called the Beaners? Personally, I don’t need a program such as this to come back again, but it could help the skeptics.

Check Coffee Bean on Twitter: @TheCoffeeBean

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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Coffee Bean: Readying for a Starbucks Fight

I love to see new brick and mortar businesses start.

I get a charge out of seeing businesses do their best to acquire first-time customers and create in-store experiences that keep them coming back a second time.

I also love it when companies put up a fight.

You have to be crazy to compete against Starbucks, right? Starbucks (the Goliath), with over 20,000 stores worldwide, is one of the most recognizable brands. Drinking Starbucks coffee has become as common as brushing one’s teeth in the morning. It takes incredible fortitude and vision to build a 3rd place (after home and work), but Starbucks has done it.

Starbucks may bring the noise, but Coffee Bean may bring the experience.

Starbucks may bring the noise, but Coffee Bean may bring the experience.

Enter David: The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

If there was ever a quantity vs. quality feel between competitors, this is exhibit A.

I vaguely recall seeing Coffee Bean stores in shopping malls in the late 70s/early 80s. These were the days when coffee wasn’t the social phenomenon it is today; Folgers’ industrial blend in the metallic can was considered gourmet.

Surprisingly, Coffee Bean actually was around 8 years prior to Starbucks. Starbucks was founded in 1971; Coffee Bean had arrived in 1963. While Starbucks’ rise has been meteoric in scope and scale, Coffee Bean’s slow, steady growth took plenty of persistence and dedication.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, headquartered in LA with 900 stores strong, has been ramping up its presence in the Austin, Texas market over the past few years.

I can’t say that I’ll never step foot in a Starbucks again, but a recent experience at a freshly-opened Coffee Bean store in Austin, Texas made me think that Starbucks should put their dukes up; it’s time for a fight.

Thankfully, I’ve secured my ringside seat for this battle.

So what did Coffee Bean do that made me a raving fan?

Stay tuned next time where I share the secrets that made an ordinary coffee experience at Coffee Bean, an extraordinary one.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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What can you learn by listening at Starbucks?

You can learn plenty by eavesdropping at Starbucks.

I am not conspicuously listening, yet I’ll ‘hear things’ as I read the paper (yes, I still do that…) or people watch.

  • I’ve listened in on girlfriend problems.
  • I’ve heard Mom complaining about her boisterous children.
  • I’ve watched a nervous, fresh college graduate try to convince an employer that she’s the one for the job.

The most revealing ‘listening experience’, however, just happened a few weeks ago in my local coffeehouse.

Near my table, two women huddled around a laptop and joyously built a presentation for an upcoming meeting. As they rattled away on the keyboard, they appeared giddy with the masterpiece that was coming to life on screen.

lady working on a powerpoint presentation

Will you remember anything from the next presentation?

These ladies sometimes struggled to find the right words on each slide; there were zero images or pictures. Some slides appeared to have 5 lines of text with about 50 characters per line. They browsed the thesaurus to look for power words without hesitation.  I said a little prayer for the audience that would have to sit through this long-form, extended dissertation. This unsuspecting audience would need an eye-check after this PowerPoint textual barrage.

I should have stopped these good-intentioned young ladies in their tracks by asking two vital questions:

1.       What is it that you are trying to say?

2.       What will everyone remember when it’s over?

When designing presentations, remember:

  • It’s not about you; it’s about the audience.
  • Your audience will remember very little from your presentation.
  • Make a few key points and make them resonate.

Excuse me, but I have to relocate tables at this Starbucks; I think I hear a father talking to his son about choosing a college. This is going to be good.

Like Starbucks?
Read about a few more unique encounters from this establishment:
How can a tap dancing girl at Starbucks give you an edge?
Your life will continue even if Starbucks is out of Cranberry muffins

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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A cautionary tale: the Smartphone names of the future

Smartphones (Android, iPhone, Blackberry) are omnipresent and show no signs of ceasing. Apple has done a dazzling job at creating a new market and turning a commodity into a luxury. Whereas Starbucks brought status and sizzle to coffee,  Apple has quickly, miraculously done the same trick to smart phones.

Smartphones

Are you using your device as catalyst or crutch?

One frightening trend I’ve noticed is the lack of interaction in public places – some of the blame can be placed on devices, including smartphones. I know the workplace has gone mobile. Many professionals use Starbucks as their office, not as a gathering, connecting place. They have a quota to meet, code to finish, campaigns to push.

Many people set aside social interactions or meeting new people in favor of gazing into their cell phone. Yes; business is business. If you need to check an important message, return a phone call, or approve a spec, the attention is warranted.

Look around; this gaze into a Twitter feed, Facebook wall, corporate e-mail inbox or apps sometimes teeters into a flat-out, glazed-over stare. Don’t bother blinking, you might miss a text message, or a deal of the century on Groupon.

I’ve been thinking….

The ‘vanity’ names for smartphones of past and present could double for a list of amusement park rides or alluring colognes:

  • Chocolate
  • Curve
  • Torch
  • Transform
  • Wave
  • Focus
  • Desire

Could our focus on ‘device contact’ instead of ‘eye contact’ usher in a new group of smartphone names?

  • Bored
  • Distract
  • Frozen
  • Zombie
  • Scatter
  • Trance (no wait, there already is a Nokia Trance; can you believe it?)

As my friend Steve Harper, author of ‘the Ripple Effect’ stresses, connections are all around if you would take the time to pay attention and step out of your comfort zone. Remember: don’t set aside the importance of social media for your business. If used appropriately, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter (even on your smartphone), can open up connections that were before impossible to achieve.

True meaning, connection, engagement, trust can ONLY happen in a face-to-face meeting – something that no smartphone can replace — no matter how compelling the name.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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