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Starbucks and moving boxes. Yes, you read the title right.

One of my employees is in the process of moving. Being resourceful as she is, she’s been calling around to stores to collect moving boxes for weeks – and one such store is Starbucks. Starbucks gets their big order in once a week; if you find out what day the order comes in, you can call to actually reserve the boxes for pick up.

Not too bad, right? But that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about what Starbucks did when they FORGOT to reserve the boxes for her.

Going Above and Beyond

Starbucks is in the coffee business – not the moving business. It’s not Home Depot, nor does it pretend to be in any way, shape or form. When my team member came in and they forgot to reserve the boxes, it would have been perfectly acceptable to her for them to just say, “I’m so sorry – we can try again next week.”

But they didn’t.

The shift manager asked her to wait. He went into the back and unpacked extra boxes – boxes that didn’t need to be unpacked right then and there – in order to deliver on their promise. In the end, my employee had seven large, usable moving boxes.

And she was floored.

Added Value and Customer Perception

As a customer, she felt seen and cared for – she absolutely realized in that moment that she was more than a coffee cup sale to Starbucks. They promised her something – an added value to the services they typically provide – something that makes them no money – and they delivered on that promise. As Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said, “Starbucks has a role and a meaningful relationship with people that is not only about coffee.” Their commitment to customer relationships – to being a part of the lives of their customers and not just a coffee pit stop – is a philosophy Schultz has been instilling since day one.

The effect? Not only was she happy – floored – she ordered a cup of coffee.

Starbucks made an already-loyal customer even more loyal by adding value to her day.

Added Value Works in Any Industry

One of our clients did this. Burns & McBride is in the declining heating oil market. They could have trekked along with the decline, doing the same old, providing their customers with exactly what they expected and nothing more.

But like Starbucks, they didn’t.

After diving into their value proposition development through our Value Prop Process, we uncovered that there was an added value service they could provide to their customers that no one else was doing. They decided to include a “no run out” guarantee – or they’d fill your tank for free.

The result? As you can imagine: increased sales, more loyal customers.

As Geoffrey James of Inc Magazine writes, “When earning customer loyalty, there are no second chances. Never assume a customer will cut you slack because you’ve got a long history together. To earn loyalty, you must constantly prove to the customer that the relationship is crucial.”

What About You?

In the end, any business can do this. In fact, every business should be doing this.

Think: what can I do to add value to my customers today? What can I do that no one else in my industry is doing? If you don’t know where to start: ask. Observe. See what your customers are needing – and anticipate those needs.

Questions for diving deeper:

  • Are you following through on your promises?
  • Do you think “outside the box” for your customers?
  • Are you willing to do something that is a little out of your comfort zone if it means the customer walks away content with more value?

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