I just walked into the Starbucks on South Tryon in Charlotte, NC near the town of Ayrsley. Jack, one of the baristas at this location, noticed no one was at the kiosks and immediately pivoted to take my order.
In short order, he took my drink order: a venti green ice tea, no classic (no sugar).
Jack then took the extra five seconds to ask for my name and how I was doing. It then evolved into quick banter, and he elicited some feedback about the space between the kiosk and the card reader. He then proceeded to make a small adjustment to the card-reader so that customer’s hands didn’t annoyingly rub up against the kiosk while running their cards.
Its not an isolated incident
The Starbucks on South Tryon isn’t the only location where Starbucks baristas take a second of out of their take banter with their customers. Maybe it’s something in their drinks?
Seriously, the repertoire that Starbucks baristas with their customers is something that the Starbucks brand encourages and possibly looks for certain traits in future employees to cultivate a positive culture company-wide.
Considering that Starbucks has 23,768 stores as of 8/4/2016, and 238,000 employees, building that kind of a culture is not a trivial task. Culture is an often overlooked key piece of a company’s DNA, and it’s something that the HBR can’t stop writing about.
The power of such a creating such positive culture with their customers buys the company intangible things such as loyalty and capital to make mistakes before losing a client’s business.
If I wanted to, I can purchase the Teavana green tea on Amazon and drink it at home for less.
I work from home, so getting out of the house is paramount. I function better in bar & coffee shop settings as it disrupts the associations that I have with households and offices. This way I can be around people without the typical disruption of an office.
Starbucks caters to remote workers like me. We can sit in a space for hours without dirty looks being constantly bombarded by service staff with "Are you doing ok?". Of course, I always tease the servers that ask this question that I’m doing terrible. Most pick up on the sarcasm.
In every Starbucks that I’ve been to, it used track lighting and receded lighting which adds to the ambiance. Dim light is essential for right brain creative types as such as myself as we learn and concentrate better in those environments. It’s also very earthy, a personal taste of mine.
But ultimately, it’s the friendly banter coupled with excellent service keeps me coming back. There are very few places in Charlotte that I’ve experienced so far that concentrates on creating a positive environment around its customer.
A few bucks for some positivity and productivity is a steal. The lower price for tea refills is just icing on the cake.
Jack, if you’re reading this. Thank you.