Service is personal (aka Starbucks knows my order)

I started drinking coffee a couple of years ago. I’ve always loved and admired the Starbucks brand, so I started visiting a location near my office here and there, and then more regularly as my coffee addiction grew.

As I became a more regular customer, the Starbucks employees started recognizing me and began to know my drink order. Eventually, I didn’t have to order at all – the staff would see me walk in and start making my drink before I even reached the register.

One day, a barista made my drink incorrectly. When I mentioned it, another employee who I know well said, “That’s Jason, you know!? People are acting crazy around here today!” She then remade my drink herself.

While this one incident wasn’t a dramatic event – more of a little service victory – it reinforced for me that customer service is at its best when it’s personal. That employee recognizing me and taking responsibility for another employee’s mistake made a big impact.

What I took away from this experience:

  1. The best service is personal. This clearly is harder in businesses with high client volume and transactional customers like retail, but it can be done. Knowing even little things about your clients will improve your service level.
  2. The best service professionals cover for their teammates. I see this every day in my own team – top performers help the client in front of them, even if it’s not their mistake, their assigned account or their responsibility.
  3. Little experiences can have a big impact. Sometimes we underestimate what a small positive experience, personalization or win can mean for a customer. These do add up – service is branding.