Wake Up And Smell The Starbucks: A Lesson For CUs

Being a Seattle resident and living in Starbucks’ hometown, their strategies and actions are often first applied here. Like credit unions they want to continually differentiate themselves and create individual community relevance while promoting a strong international brand. It goes without saying that they have been extremely successful as they are a household name in North America and across the world.

Last year the board fired the CEO, Jim Donald, who had increased their store numbers by five-fold. Why? Because their brand was losing its shine and uniqueness. Howard Schultz was asked to return and reenergize their brand. He has refocused on creating one of the most powerful customer service cultures in the world and on three key brand elements: Coffee, Community and the Environment. To do this Starbucks has created very clear Key Performance Indicators that are appreciated by experts and understood by general customers as well. Credit unions should be doing the same and sharing, no, celebrating their success in similar initiatives.

In a pamphlet titled “Of Coffee & Community,” Starbucks presents the actions they are taking: (1) Promoting Ethical Sourcing, (2) Contributing To Our Communities, and (3) Reducing Our Environmental Footprint. To publicly track their performance they provide clear and honest trend date that shows how they are improving in 12 categories. This honesty and sharing of the company’s goals are not only for customers, they are for shareholders and staff to help insure a strong cultural focus that makes everyone proud and makes ever cup of coffee task a little better.

The methods used by Starbucks can be directly applied to credit unions. I strongly suggest that every credit union go to Starbucks, have a great cup of coffee and take a look at the pamphlet. Then consider how they might integrate similar techniques through all their delivery channels.


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