The coffee giant Starbucks is a world-renowned company, operating in hundreds of countries.
Huge amounts will be spent on marketing, PR and advertising, as well as coming up with new and innovative ways of getting more customers in.
But one writer claims to have stumbled on the secret – Great customer service done before the customer has a chance to complain.
Writing for INC.com, columnist Kelly Main revealed all.
In search of a “caffeine-fuelled-pick-me-up” on a boiling hot day, she headed to the local drive-thru for a $4 iced coffee.
After waiting for 20 minutes in the queue, she was pleasantly surprised.
She wrote: ” I got an apology and a free coffee.
“Almost instantly, my angst toward one of the nation’s notoriously slow fast-food chains dissipated–as did the vow I had made to myself to never return.
“With that, a new daydream sprung to mind: Was I actually as frugal as I thought, or just cheap? Regardless, I drove off happy.”
She said the move wasn’t a “huge gesture”, but the sort of move that “keeps customers coming back.”
She wrote: ” While not every business can afford to give products away for free, there are three key lessons every business can take away from Starbucks’s $4 customer service trick.
“All of which can help inform operational decisions, while simultaneously increasing both staff and customer happiness and loyalty. ”
She revealed she’d decided it was her last trip to Starbucks, due to the wait, but the fact that Starbucks “valued me as a customer” meant a lot more than the $4 she saved.
She said: ” By putting its short-term profits aside, and the losses that would come from giving away orders, the store gave customers a tremendous amount of value, and an even greater amount of goodwill.”
Staff need to proactively make things right
Away from her trip to Starbucks, Main points out really good customer service is addressing issues proactively so customers don’t have to.
She says: “It’s addressing issues proactively so customers don’t have to. The reason many miss this key element is because it’s easy to overlook the crucial element of empowering staff so they’re not limited to making up for any wrongs, but are proactively making things right.
“The staff on duty that day at Starbucks didn’t wait to take my temperature.
“They preemptively knew customers weren’t going to be thrilled after waiting for so long, and so they did the right thing without being asked to.
“In the case of Starbucks, a free coffee is a small price to pay for a positive experience that keeps its customers and staff coming back. And, chances are, there’s a version of it you can offer in your business as well.”