Posts Tagged ‘business’

starbucks philippines is tops in customer care

If there’s one principle that Starbucks as a corporation has become famous for, it’s their tenet of giving the customer utter and complete service satisfaction. It’s what built their fortune. People had gotten tired of surly counterpeople at quick service restaurants, and Starbucks made up for its overpriced coffee by pampering and cossetting customers to an unusual degree, in surroundings that were genteel, warm, and relaxing.

Here in Manila, I’ve generally had a good experience with Starbucks. If you don’t like the way the barista made your drink, or if they made a mistake with your order, they’ll do it over. If you were inconvenienced in some way, you get a free beverage coupon. They hand you your drink with a smile, and if you happen to visit certain locations often, the baristas there make an effort to remember your name and call you by that next time you come in. Depending on the barista, they also remember your favorite drink and ask if you’ll be having “your usual”. (“Hi, Miss Jenny, going to work? Tall Raspberry Mocha for you today?”)

Some weeks ago, I was at the Yupangco branch waiting for my sister when I happened to fill out a customer satisfaction survey form. In it I deplored the lack of Christmas Bearista bears and Peppermint syrup, seasonal offerings we had gotten used to and looked forward to through the years.

I didn’t expect an answer. I suspect such survey forms are displayed only to make customers feel happy that their feedback is being solicited, and I’m not sure if the replies are fed into a CRM database. So I was surprised to receive an email from Rustan Coffee Corporation’s Operations Services Manager Carlo R. Lopez, thanking me for my feedback on the bears and the syrup (he mentioned it in detail, meaning they had actually read the form I filled out), and asking for my postal address so they could send me coupons.

Today the coupons arrived the mail. Not just the one I was expecting, but two.

Letter from Rustan Coffee with two free beverage coupons.

RCC is “an authorized licensee of Starbucks Coffee International”, it says right there on their stationery. RCC is also a “member of the Rustan group of companies”, which is well-known in the Philippines for their Rustan’s department store, which is the most upscale establishment of its kind in the country. They’ve taken their retail expertise and merged it with the Starbucks way to run their operations profitably. I haven’t heard that they are closing locations in the Philippines; in fact, they seem to be expanding, putting stores in newly-opened malls and beside 24/7 call centers.

Here’s another thing – the 2009 planner promotion was such a hit that they ran out of stock. The campaign started maybe five or six years ago, where customers are given a card every November that they fill up with stickers corresponding to a certain number of drinks. Half of the drinks required are the seasonal offerings like Peppermint, Toffee Nut, Dark Cherry, Praline, whatever. At the end of the promo period, the first week of January, there were no planners to be had. Customers were asked to wait until January 16.

The date rolled around. I went the next day – the 17th – with my promo card. I was told that there were no more planners to be had, again. In just 24 hours all the planners were snapped up! I was asked to leave my name with the branch nearest me – which is Rockwell. So I did, and I was given a free beverage coupon to make up for the inconvenience.

I used it the other day at Starbucks Rufino to get a Grande Ice-Shaken Raspberry Mocha. I handed the cashier my coupon. She asked, in a low voice, ”Planner”? I nodded. My order was rung up as a “service recovery”. The machine spit out my receipt. The cashier handed it to me with a smile and pointed out some text at the bottom. “You have another free drink with the “Customer Voice” promo. Just go online to get the code.” The baristas chattered excitedly. A free drink with another free drink? That was rare!


To cap it all, yesterday I got this text message: ”Thank you for making this year’s planner promotion a success. Due to the overwhelming response, we have unexpectedly experienced a shortage of planners. We have placed another order to arrive by March 20. We apologize for the delay & as a token of our appreciation & your understanding we will be including a Starbucks bag with your reserved planner. We sincerely apologize & thank you for your continued patronage and understanding. – strbks r0ckwell”

To sum up, I’ve received coupons for four free drinks, and will be given another freebie, the bag.

Is Starbucks great, or what? This is why I love this place. Not so much for the coffee, which is more milk than espresso anyhow, and frankly I’ve had better. But I keep coming back to Starbucks as a loyal customer for the experience, the ambiance, and the service which is second to none.


Fountain pens, ink, and coffee at Starbucks Rockwell.

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taylor clark: starbucked

One of the best books I’ve read on the global coffee behemoth, Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture by Taylor Clark, a former newspaper reporter, gives a fairly objective view on the issues facing Starbucks today.

I love Starbucks. Not a coffee drinker for the first 34 years of my life, the coffee chain seduced me into appreciating the brew that powers economies and minds.

Taylor Clark does not love Starbucks. He prefers to patronize independent coffee shops, the “mom and pop” stores of specialty coffee.

Yet he succeeds in delivering an even-handed report on the history of coffee and Starbucks itself. He touches on the reasons people love and hate the company. Facts abound, but this is not a boring book filled with figures and charts. The text is peppered with quotes from past and present Starbucks executives and industry personalities. His research, based on primary sources, gives credibility to his story.

What Clark reveals about the company and its impact on the world is stunning. Not only does Starbucks have a significant impact on the economy, it has also re-defined and popularized the coffee culture.

Love it or hate it, Starbucks’ influence is genuine. Taylor Clark tells us how and why. It’s a must-read.

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howard behar: it’s not about the coffee

From the former president of Starbucks International, Howard Behar, comes It’s Not About the Coffee, a little red book on leadership that emphasizes the most important element of a successful visionary business – its people.

While Behar says a good product – in their case, coffee – is important for a business to succeed, what sustains and grows it are the people involved every step of the way. Through his years in retail – first in the furniture business, then in real estate, then Starbucks – he evolved ten guidelines for leadership.

He says, “…I can guarantee you that you won’t go wrong if you use these ten principles as a guiding force in leading yourself and, if it’s your goal, in leading others…”

  • 1. Know Who You Are: Wear One Hat – Our success is directly related to our clarity and honesty about who are are, who we’re not, where we want to go, and how we’re going to get there. When organizations are clear about their values, purpose, and goals, they find the energy and passion to do great things.
  • 2. Know Why You’re Here: Do It Because It’s Right, Not Because It’s Right for Your Resume – The path to success comes from doing things for the right reasons. You can’t succeed if you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish and without everyone being aligned with the goal. Look for purpose and passion in yourself and the people you lead. If they’re not there, do something.
  • 3. Think Independently: The Person Who Sweeps the Floor Should Choose the Broom – People are not “assets”, they are human beings who have the capacity to achieve results beyond what is thought possible. We need to get rid of rules – real and imagined – and encourage the independent thinking of others and ourselves.
  • 4. Build Trust: Care, Like You Really Mean It – Caring is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength, and it can’t be faked – within an organization, within the people we serve… Without trust and caring, we’ll never know what could have been possible. Without freedom from fear, we can’t dream, and we can’t reach our potential.
  • 5. Listen for the Truth: The Walls Talk – Put the time into listening, even to what’s not said… You’ll know what your customers want, you’ll know why the passion is missing from your organization, and you’ll learn solutions to problems that have been sitting there waiting to be picked.
  • 6. Be Accountable: Only the Truth Sounds Like the Truth – No secrets, no lies of omission, no hedging and dodging. Take responsibility and say what needs to be said, with care and respect.
  • 7. Take Action: Think Like a Person of Action, and Act Like a Person of Thought – Find the sweet spot of passion, purpose, and persistence. “It’s all about the people” isn’t an idea, it’s an action. Feel, do, think. Find the balance, but act.
  • 8. Face Challenge: We are Human Beings First – Use all the principles to guide you during the hardest times. If the challenge is too big, if you find yourself stuck, take smaller bites. But remember to put people first, and you’ll find the guidance you need.
  • 9. Practice Leadership: The Big Noise and the Still, Small, Voice – Leading can be the noisy “I’m here!” kind of thing. But don’t ever forget that leaders are just ordinary human beings. Don’t let the noise crowd out the truth…
  • 10. Dare to Dream: Say Yes, the Most Powerful Word in the World – Big dreams mean big goals, big hopes, big joys. Say yes, and enjoy all that you are doing, and help others to do the same.

Behar shares many other tips that helped him mature personally and succeed as a leader. One of his habits was to frame quotations, pieces of advice, or other “words of wisdom” that he used “as guardrails for my journey” and display them on his office walls where he could see them everyday and internalize their lessons for practical application.

It’s a very helpful book for anyone who is interested in learning more about leadership. For me, it validates a principle that I hold dear and have always adhered to – that people come first. I wish I could give this book to a couple of bosses I’ve had who treat people as property. Sigh.

Here in Manila, this book is available at Starbucks outlets.

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karen blumenthal: grande expectations

As a collector both of business books and Starbucks-related reads, I am especially gleeful when I come across something that combines both.

Grande Expectations, written by Wall Street Journal’s Karen Blumenthal, is an analysis of what makes some stocks thrive and others wither despite promising starts (and starting promises).

Blumenthal chose to study Starbucks after researching into it and finding its stock “an investor’s masterpiece, a consistently healthy, growing contributor to the American dream”.

Grande Expectations is an attempt to “demystify Stockland”, following the course of Starbucks stock over a year, taking us (as the blurb says) “behind the scenes at the annual stockholders meeting, into the inner sanctum of Starbucks’s corporate headquarters…[it is] a compelling biography of one of the world’s most recognized brands.”

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joseph michelli: the starbucks experience

Starbucks is not only my favorite caffeine delivery system, it is also my ideal global business. Its stock has risen 5,000% since 1992, and has hundreds of stores around the world.

In The Starbucks Experience, Dr. Joseph Michelli gives his take on the reasons for Starbucks’ phenomenal success. He interviewed “partners” (employees) on how they deliver their brand of customer delight that makes people come back for more and more.

My sister-in-law Dr. Mitas Alcasid got me this copy for $14 (regular price was $22) at Walmart (fantastic place for bargains) in Oswego, when we visited them in February 2007.

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