Important CX Lessons from “The Starbucks Experience”


Customer experience (CX) is paramount to a satisfied and loyal customer. When customers have bad experiences, they are less likely to remain loyal and might even tell other people about their bad experience. On the other hand, if a company exhibits superior CX, their customers will not only remain loyal but also tell everyone about their positive experiences.

There are a lot of companies out there that have excellent customer service and provide the best CX possible. Not so coincidentally, these companies are some of the biggest companies in the world. is a great example – they have customer service that is unmatched by many online/physical retailers. Because of that, they have grown to be one of the biggest companies in the world.

Another prime example is Starbucks. In the book, The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary, author Joseph Michelli explains how customer experience enables Starbucks to sell an ordinary coffee product for 3-5x the price of coffee anywhere else. At the end of the day, service and experience help sell the customer just as much as your pitch. If you want to maximize your sales, here are 5 CX lessons from Starbucks that you can use to enhance the experience of your sales process.

Listen to the Customer

The first principle in the book is to “Make it Your Own”, which refers to Starbucks’ willingness to listen to partner’s (employee’s) suggestions and ideas. A lot of these ideas come from customers themselves, so often times, customer suggestions are taken seriously and something changes as a result. They can, therefore, provide a better customer experience.

The entire point here is to actually listen to your customers/prospects. If they suggest something, take it seriously. If they have a problem or a complaint, take it seriously and do something to fix it. When the customers feel like they are being listened to, it changes everything for them. Issues are easily fixed this way.

Everything Matters

The second principle is “Everything Matters”, which for Starbucks means that every small detail about the customer experience is equally important. Everything from the coffee quality to the walk-in experience is important to consistently good customer experience.

The same principle can be applied to CX and sales. Everything is important to the prospect, from the interaction with you to the customer service rep and beyond. Everything with your individual sales process is important too. Never compromise the customer experience because you, for example, forget to respond to their email asking about a certain feature.

Go Above and Beyond

The third principle, “Suprise and Delight” refers to Starbucks employees commitment to overdeliver for their customers.  For example, there was a story about a store who opened up early because a customer was waiting outside in the cold. It was a small gesture but made all the difference to that individual customer.

In your process, go above and beyond when it comes to service. For example, if a customer calls you and asks something that is really meant for a different department, you might be tempted to just transfer them over. Before you do that, consider how much it would mean to the customer if you took it upon yourself to help the customer yourself. That’s how salespeople are able to create a loyal customer base – they go above and beyond and create a great CX.

Learn from Mistakes

The fourth principle in the book is “Embrace Resistance,” which means that Starbucks employees are to take negative feedback from customers as opportunities to learn and change. Again, this goes back to the first lesson – Listen to Your Customer.

In the world of sales, it’s important to learn from your mistakes too. This works on a few different levels. First, if you mess up and fumble an objection, you can learn from that mistake and use it as a chance to improve. Secondly, if a customer tells you something negative about your sales process (ex- I think you’re too high-pressure), don’t become argumentative. Take it as a chance to reflect upon yourself and your own processes too.

Be a Positive Force

The fifth principle is to “Leave Your Mark.” This is essentially Starbucks’ philosophy to leave a positive impact on the customer, the community, the environment, and the world at large. You might notice Starbucks doing a lot of community outreach and customer appreciation events – that’s this idea at work.

Working with customers, you have a huge amount of influence on their perception of the company. No matter how bad of a mood you are in, be a positive force in the eyes of the customer. Leaving a positive impact on the customer will only strengthen brand loyalty. Be cheerful, energetic, and be willing to help whenever called upon.

If Starbucks can sell a seemingly ordinary product for many times it’s perceived value using these five lessons, just imagine what you can do as a professional salesperson or customer service rep. CX is incredibly important to sustained business and sales success. Use the 5 principles as a blueprint for your own individual CX success.



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Author: Jason Karaman

Hello! I’m a marketing, sales, and customer service author, blogger and doer. I live in the South Carolina Lowcountry with my wife. I enjoy reading, writing, hiking, kayaking, and all things beach. For media inquiries, send an email to

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