You better be better than Starbucks.

June 3, 2007

I had dinner recently with Cary Singletary, a friend and mentor, who is also a well-respected attorney and tremendously effective mediator. One of the reasons Cary’s mediation practice is so successful (in addition to his skill at the process) is his office. Cary cares about his clients and knows how to create a wonderful experience for them from the moment they arrive until they leave. Cary knows what makes Starbucks great, and he delivers a similar experience to his clients. What’s the secret?

Starbucks doesn’t sell coffee. Starbucks sells "the Starbucks experience." Everything about their stores is designed to make their customers feel welcome and at home. Starbucks knows the value of creating an experience for their customers. So does Cary.

Experience_economy In their book, The Experience Economy, Joe Pine and James Gilmore, discuss economic evolution from commodity based – coffee as beans, selling at a few cents to a dollar a pound – though experience – coffee as a hazelnut latte with free wi-fi and comfy chairs – five dollars a cup! Pine and Gilmore argue that if businesses in the 21st Century are not delivering "experiences" to their customers, they are losing. (Beyond the Experience Economy is the Transformational Economy, but that’s for another post.)

Here’s the Cary Singletary experience: 1) Impeccably decorated office; 2) A secretary who treats everyone who enters with warmth and kindness; 3) Spacious conference rooms with comfortable chairs; 4) Free Wi-Fi; 5) Freshly baked cookies (He has an Otis Spunkmeyer cookie baking machine in his office!) and refreshments throughout the day. There’s more . . . but you get the idea.

So, what are you doing to be better than Starbucks?

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