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Starbucks CMO Brady Brewer Shares Three Lessons for Human Connection

This year, we were excited to welcome back Brady Brewer, the CMO of Starbucks (and our top-rated speaker from last year’s Summit), to our virtual stage. Brady joined Hearsay’s VP of Marketing, Leslie Leach, to share how Starbucks continues to sustain authentic client relationships across every individual interaction.

Just as Starbucks is in the people business—not the coffee business—Hearsay is in the people business, helping to guide agents and advisors in the last mile of client engagement, as they work with clients to help them fulfill their future dreams and aspirations.

Here are three best practices that Brady shared with us:

Connect, discover, and respond
Regardless of role, every person at Starbucks is informed by the same type of training model: to connect, discover and respond. Simple gestures such as making eye contact, greeting a customer as they walk through the door, or making sure you get a customer’s name right, are ingrained in the Starbucks experience.

“Getting the small details right…make [a customer] feel cared for as a person,” says Brady. “And that can have a huge impact on a customer’s day.”

If that first cup of coffee is the start of someone’s day, baristas have the ability to set the tone for the day ahead. Scaling this approach as a global company is no small feat, particularly with 30,000 Starbucks stores around the world!

Provide safe, familiar, and convenient experiences
People’s everyday routines were disrupted by the pandemic. For Starbucks, their stores used to be customers’ first stop outside of their homes—“the place before the place”; now, it may be the only place that’s visited outside the home.

With some stores operating as curbside or pick-up only, Starbucks quickly adapted to find ways to show their customers they were still there for them. By investing heavily in their mobile app, they enabled customers to enjoy Starbucks on their own terms: Contactless, curbside, and doorside, were all new delivery methods that helped Starbucks transform their service and provide everyone a little slice of comfort.

Use storytelling to create a culture of empathy and care
While working in marketing, Brady’s team came up with the idea of sending every store 25 blank holiday cards—without any instructions for what to do with them.

Months later, when he worked a shift at his neighborhood store, the manager brought one of these cards out to a loyal customer. When the customer read the card, she burst into tears, saying “I had no idea I meant this much to you.” The store manager had written to the customer that she loved seeing her every day, and that she was a part of the store family.

“Brands are built from legends,” says Brady. The smallest gesture, which might have taken a minute, had the power to show heartfelt, tremendous care for this customer, who likely would’ve shared this story with others as well. It became a lesson for the Starbucks team, that anyone can do little things to foster belonging, inclusion and appreciation.

As a parting thought, Brady shared that “The number one thing you can do to help a human being feel connected to another person is to be of service to them.” It’s a great mantra to return to, as we navigate the customer experience in our post-pandemic world.

A huge thanks to Brady and Leslie for sharing their conversation around igniting connections with customers.

Katherine Creeden

Katherine Creeden is the Marketing Operations Specialist at Hearsay. Based in Austin, she’s spent the last five years in marketing, helping teams run efficiently behind the scenes. She has a BS in Corporate Communications and a certificate in Business Foundations from the University of Texas at Austin.

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