Lessons Learned from Starbucks

Some of the best learning experiences I’ve had have been at Starbucks, where I work as a barista. Not only is the training Starbucks provides very helpful, but the chance to interact with thousands of different customers throughout my time there has given me an opportunity to fine-tune my customer service skills in a way not many people can compare with. Here are some of the most important lessons that I’ve learned from Starbucks.

1. A free drink goes a long way.

Too often, companies expect that simply shoveling free stuff or coupons to disgruntled customers will satisfy them and solve their problem. However, in my experience the difference is made in how you connect with them as opposed to what you offer as compensation. When you know a customer has been in line forever, or their drink was messed up the first time, just taking the time to talk with them and verbally recognize the inconvenience, offer your apologies, AS WELL AS a token of your apology will convert that person from a disappointed customer to someone who will give you another try.

2. Manage priorities.

At times, having a goal of establishing customer connections while keeping drive thru wait time as low as possible is a daunting task. However, what I’ve come to realize is that the key to managing and juggling several different priorities is to break down the dichotomies between them, and find ways to accomplish them together.

3. Focus on quality.

There’s a reason that, regardless of wherever you are in the world, a Starbucks drink will always taste the same. It’s because Starbucks has a singular focus on creating and maintaining standards of how things should be done. Not to say that individual initiative and creativity can’t be applied to various things, but rather these standards promote a focus on quality in everything that we do and make.

4. Give your customer undivided attention.

One of the pitfalls that trying to manage priorities (as I mentioned above) can lead to, is the trap of multitasking. While the ability to multitask is almost required to keep things moving at a brisk pace, it’s easy to forget that it’s the customer connection that really creates the atmosphere we’re striving for, and is really what sets us apart from others. It’s amazing what a difference simply chatting with a customer while they wait for their drink makes.

5. “Relax – it’s only coffee.”

Not to suggest that we don’t take our jobs seriously, but sometimes you just need to put everything in perspective.

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