Running a business is never just about delivering a product people want. While fulfilling needs is important for a business to survive, building positive customer relationships is necessary for a brand to thrive and expand. It is the quality of human relationships and the customer’s affinity with your business that influence their willingness to purchase and their satisfaction with what they bought after the fact.
Over 50% of customers say they experience buyer’s remorse or negative emotions such as guilt and regret after making a purchase. All this results in a rising rate of returns and customers reacting emotionally at the slightest deviation from expectations. These factors feed into growing chargeback claims, with 65% of merchants reporting a rise in chargebacks and growing instances of friendly fraud over the past three years.
Building a brand that resonates with their customers on many levels rarely happens organically. Starbucks' ability to create loyal customers through innovative customer relationship strategies has had a significant impact on their bottom-line figures, and here's how they did it.
Understanding a customer relationship strategy
At the root of Starbucks' success is their ability to create a sense of community and belonging among their customers. Starbucks goes beyond being just a coffee shop and has become a part of many people's daily routines. The company has managed to create a welcoming and cozy atmosphere in their stores with comfortable seating, warm lighting, and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.
Innovating in-store experiences
Creating a welcoming atmosphere
Starbucks does a great job at making customers feel at home in their stores by offering comfortable seating and creating a calming atmosphere. The music, lighting, and decor all contribute to an ambiance that patrons find appealing and relaxing. Blurring the lines between home and work environments creates a coveted “third place” for where customers can feel comfortable whether they are making a quick routine stop, or settling in to work remotely in a lively and social setting.
The role of baristas in building relationships
Baristas play a vital role in creating a positive customer experience. They're trained to be friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable about the products. A focus on customer service and people-oriented hiring makes customers feel welcome and appreciated. Offering the ability to personalize and customize most, if not all menu items goes a long way in making the customer feel like their order is being made with attention, for them. A simple gesture like including a customer’s name on their beverage provides another simple opportunity to connect in ways where other retailers fall short.
Exclusive events and promotions
Creating exclusive events and promotions get their customers excited and interested in the company. These events can vary from launching new menu items to music concerts and art exhibits. Typically, these promotions are exclusive for rewards members, which makes it even more compelling to join the program.
By being involved in local initiatives in the places where they operate, the company partners with local nonprofits, schools, and organizations to create impactful programs for their communities. This involvement allows Starbucks to build personal connections with its customers and intentionally strengthen its brand.
The importance of loyalty
Customer loyalty is the key to success. Starbucks has created a culture where customers feel like they're part of a larger community. The company has built a rewards program that incentivizes customers to keep coming back through offering exclusive benefits, such as free drinks, birthday rewards, and early access to new products. This program has been a huge success, with millions of loyal customers enrolled.
Starbucks also values customer feedback and takes it seriously. The company has a dedicated team that listens to customer feedback and implements changes based on it. This shows customers that their opinions matter and that Starbucks is committed to providing the best experience possible.
Engaging with customers through social media
An active social media presence acts as an extension of their physical stores – allowing customers to feel connected to the brand even when they're not there in person.
Using social media to showcase their commitment to social responsibility through initiatives such as the Starbucks Foundation, which supports local communities, and the Ethical Sourcing program, which ensures that the coffee beans used in their products are ethically sourced, shows customers that Starbucks is not just a profit-driven company, but also one that cares about the world around them.
Starbucks' success can be attributed to their ability to create a sense of community and belonging among their customers. They value customer loyalty, offer personalized and customized products, and engage with customers. A commitment to social responsibility also sets them apart from other companies. It's no wonder that Starbucks is one of the most successful coffee chains in the world.
Putting it in to practice
All of these efforts might seem like an impossible undertaking for most merchants, so we’ve put together a checklist to work towards creating the best purchasing experiences to add to your bottom line in the same way that Starbucks has perfected it.
Continue reading to discover more about how Patagonia and Nordstrom are thriving with this strategy in mind.