I Don’t Know Why They Do That


A colleague and I went to get a cup of coffee. Being coffee snobs we look for one brand and we’re very loyal to that brand—Starbucks.

When we paid for our coffee we noticed that for some reason decaf was less expensive than regular coffee. This seemed strange to us as we frequent the company stores often and there’s not any price difference. When my colleague asked the barista why the price difference, her answer was, “I don’t know why they do that.”

Needless to say, we were disappointed. Here you have two brand loyal, raving fans who asked a simple question and were denied. The pricing policy makes no sense to us, we don’t see it anywhere else, and the front line person isn’t equipped to respond. This is not a good way to penetrate the heart of the customer.

I would challenge you to look at two things: Stupid policies and how you train your staff. First, what policies do you have that make no sense? I used to do a lot of retail consulting and many stores I visited had restrictive return policies. What’s the reason? Wal-Mart and other leading retailers make it so easy for people to return merchandise, why do some stores try to be hard cases? Nordstrom’s has incredible folk lore about their great service and easy returns—they are legendary. Don’t you want to be legendary? Don’t you want to be top of mind for your customers? Get rid of stupid policies that harm your customer focus and satisfaction.

Secondly, make sure your front line people understand your vision and values so they can answer questions, and better yet, so they can challenge stupid policies when they see them. They are the ones interacting with customers, they need to be empowered (under the balance of your vision and values) and they know immediately when some policy doesn’t make sense and needs changing. Listen to them.

By the way, I have not gone back to this particular Starbucks…just sayin’


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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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