How can @Starbucks be even more successful?

09/15/2011

By placing a barista like Rory “Rizzo” Baker in every store. 
 
Have you watched that credit report TV ad and wondered how you’re not just a number to the bureau? Are you ever tempted to switch your insurance to Nationwide because it is on your side? 
 
Businesses want to appeal to our craving for a sense of belonging. However, without a commitment to back their words with actions, most don’t do it well. I look at my credit report every month, and I’ve never felt like I’m more than a membership number that is worth $14.95 a month. Starbucks, with a store at just about every corner in Seattle, offers a familiar environment in which customers can feel at home. In fact, no matter where you are in the world, Starbucks stores look more or less the same. While the ambiance is relaxing, the service is still impersonal.
 
Starbucks baristas are usually friendly, but you know it is only because they are professional. I actually prefer to get my beverages at the little huts or indie cafés. Mostly I enjoy interacting with the people behind the counters, but I also like that these people often remember my beverage of choice after only a couple of visits. With the foot traffic at Starbucks, that level of personal touch might be too much to ask. My usual complaint, though, is that when a customer’s beverage is ready, the baristas call out his name like it’s nothing more than a delivery address.  
 
Not Rizzo!  
 
Rizzo had me at the cash register. Like other Starbucks baristas, he was smiley and perky. But somehow he also conveyed a genuine interest in his customers, which is a talent that can be acquired. I just knew even if he did not remember me the next day, he would have my name and my beverage down by the end of the week. Well, about twenty minutes after my initial order, when I returned to get a cup of water and a breakfast sandwich, Rizzo still remembered my name!  
 
In the one hour that I sat in that Starbucks, an old lady came in for coffee and had a seemingly personal conversation with Rizzo; and two groups of customers, who were on a first-name basis with Rizzo, walked over to chat with him after placing their orders with a different barista. 
 
I have no doubt Rizzo is responsible for the customer loyalty at his particular Starbucks. If there were a Rizzo in every Starbucks store, many little huts and indie cafés would go out of business. I, for one, would not go anywhere else for my beverages.  
 
Rizzo works at the Starbucks location at 874 Commonwealth Avenue. Pay him a visit if you’re in Boston!

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