retail news in context, analysis with attitude


This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.

Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

When I’m in Portland, as I have been all summer, it usually is my preference to go to Stumptown Coffee. I have my morning routine - I run, come back to the apartment, shower, have breakfast, and then walk the mile or so to Stumptown on Third to have two cups of black coffee. I do it that way because it forces me to get out, and I dedicate my time there to a) going through email and b) reading the New York Times online. What can I say? I’m a creature of habit.

However, during the weeks that Mrs. Content Guy is in Portland with me, we tend to go to Starbucks, because that’s what she prefers. I’m cool with that - she’s been patient enough to allow me to go to Portland for eight summers in a row, so I’m inclined to let her choose where we go for coffee.

The other day we were sitting in Starbucks, drinking coffee and chatting about nothing ion particular, when an older guy came in. And as he walked through the door, pretty much the entire staff perked up. “Hey, Bob!” they all called out.

Clearly, Bob was a regular. And it seemed to me that in that moment, “Hey, Bob” were two of the most powerful words that they could have spoken … especially if you happen to be Bob.

We all know Starbucks. Huge company. Getting huger all the time. One of the hardest thing about being a company so big has to be maintaining the right culture … and it struck me that “Hey, Bob” indicated that at least in this store, they got it right.

When you think about it, maybe it doesn’t matter how big a company is. Treating customers like regulars and regular customers like they are special has to be at the top of the list in terms of cultural imperatives.

We all want to be Norm from “Cheers.” Hell, I know a lot of people who want to be me when I go to Etta’s and see Morgan, my favorite bartender ever … there’s such power in being treated as regular.

Do your people know your customers? Do they greet them by name? Are you stressing that as a point of difference? Are you finding a way to reward them for be that invested in your business?

“:Hey, Bob!” Two critically important words that may actually spell the difference between a mediocre experience and a great one.

That’s what is on my mind this morning and, as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.


KC's View: