The first Starbucks cup with a Czech customer’s name on it saw the light of day in 2008 at the Malostranské square. Today, the American franchise operates 51 shops across the country, and while the entire hospitality industry is currently struggling with a lack of employees, Starbucks can boast a decrease in employee fluctuation – the green brand is well-aware of how important the people are and that happy employees equals happy customers.
Starbucks likes to say that they don’t sell coffee – they sell experiences. That’s why every Starbucks shop looks a bit different, too, with the brand thinking about their future customers already at the shop design stage. “If we expect our customers to be working or studying at our shop, we’ll focus on that aspect of design, making the shop more comfortable and equipped with a socket at every table,” says Kaźmierczak, the brand’s regional COO. But the process of adapting the shop to the needs of the customers is never over. “The store manager knows his or her customers best; they know who their customers are and how can they make the shop more comfortable for them, whether it means adding more flowers and plants for a cosier feel or installing sun shades to help reduce the glare on their computer screens as they work,” Kaźmierczak explains.
“We’re not a ‘coffee business serving people’, we’re a ‘people business serving coffee’ – that’s the key thing in our philosophy. At Starbucks, there are no employees – just partners. It doesn’t matter if you are a manager or a barista, everyone is our partner,” the COO says to explain the brand’s mindset. Employees are considered at the recruitment stage already, with the managers assessing how well they will fit in with the rest of the team, the shop, and the company’s values. Next, there is training – a month of standardized learning for baristas to make sure the service is great whether you are in New York, Prague, or Hong Kong. The new “partners” learn to work with customers, to interact with them, and why Starbucks has the tradition of writing customers’ names on cups. It is this approach that the brand has to thank for the decreasing employee fluctuation and many “American dream” scenarios that saw partners start as baristas and work their way up to managerial level.
“We don’t see our customers as a parade of grande lattes – we see them as people, as John, Alice or Kate. Everyone should have a place where they feel good and comfortable, where the baristas know their name and their favourite drink.”Grzegorz Kaźmierczak, Starbucks’ regional COO
Although the chain of cafés is still the brand’s backbone, Starbucks is careful to stay on its toes. In 2019, the brand started working with the Damejidlo.cz food delivery service, introducing their Starbucks Deliveries brand in cooperation with Wolt and Bolt later. Focusing on office delivery first, the brand naturally progressed and expanded to “home office” delivery as the pandemic hit and more people started working from their homes. “Our shops accept dozens of orders and the Deliveries service continues to grow. The delivery people are constantly on the move,” says Kaźmierczak. He also adds that two coffee shops – Prague’s Zličín shop and Brno Campus shop – are now testing delivery to people’s cars. “The customer can place their order in our app, park in a designated area and wait for one of our partners to deliver their order right to them,” he explains.
The brand’s mobile app, complete with a loyalty program, is also at the centre of attention, allowing customers to collect stars that can be then exchanged for free drinks or an option to try a new seasonal drink before it officially hits the menu.