Customer service is still the best differentiator and it’s made up of small acts

I was reminded on a recent trip I took overseas of the impact that customer service has on the loyalty that I have to a company.

I read Open Happiness by Tony Hsieh a while back and was struck by their total commitment to customer service and amazed that Bezos would fork over $1.2 billion for them, citing that as the main reason. Amazed and impressed. And having worked in the services area for over ten years I’ve certainly gained an appreciation for the power of customer service.

But I’m still impressed and surprised when I experience it personally.  I think most companies today forget about the importance of customer service because it’s hard to directly connect it to ROI. So you kinda have to believe.

I’ve become a recent fan of Starbucks lately after reading Schultz’s book, Onward. So I try to go to a Starbucks when I’m traveling, particularly in foreign countries. As an example, here’s a video of a Starbucks I visited recently in London. Still the coolest one I’ve ever been to.

On this particular trip I was excited when the third city we were in had a Starbucks in the hotel. If you can believe it, the first two cities we went to I couldn’t even find one.

The first morning I went down and got my usual, a “medium coffee”. I purposely order a “medium” because a) I can’t stand the silly language they use for their cup sizes and b) I can never remember which is which anyhow. Usually when I make this unchallenging order the barista just quickly pours it and hands it back to me, without bothering to write my name on the cup. For some reason the happy foreign fellow working at this Starbucks (actually, I suppose I was the foreign one) I think was happy to practice his English so he asked my name and wrote, “Jeff’s”, on the side of the cup and proudly presented it to me.

Fair enough. I took my cup and went back to the room. The next morning I headed back down and when I walked in, the guy who served me the day before happily smiled, pointed at me and said, “Jeff! Same as yesterday?”. I couldn’t believe he remembered my name and order, as bland as both of those things are.

And in that instant I became an entirely different customer of Starbucks. I know that was one guy and I’ve never had that experience before and likely won’t again. And that it wasn’t even all that incredible of an experience. But it made a difference to me. So much in fact that I bought a souvenir cup so I’d remember that Starbucks in the future.

I brought a souvenir home from the Starbucks in Guangzhou










~ I wrote this with Blogsy on the iPad. Still enjoying that app.