My Starbucks Barista Is Fully Empowered and Your Employees Should Be Too

Hazelnut Macchiato

My daughter and I have this Starbucks thing. We go into Starbucks on Friday mornings before school to browse mugs and music and we both get a drink. This morning I ordered the Venti Caramel Macchiato with skim milk and no whip. The Barista asked, “Have you tried our new Hazelnut Macchiato? If you like the Caramel Macchiato, you’ll love the Hazelnut flavor!”

Just as we were walking into Starbucks, I was telling my daughter that I had a coupon for a free Tall Hazelnut Macchiato. But I left it in the car and besides, I wanted the very large Venti size today. So, I say to the Barista, “I actually have a coupon for free Tall Hazelnut Macchiato. Can I upgrade that to a Venti and pay the difference and then I’ll run out to my car and grab the coupon?” Get this, this completely empowered employee says, “I’ll tell you what. Don’t worry about the coupon and I’ll give you the Venti Hazelnut Macchiato for free.”

The Starbucks employee was completely willing and empowered to honor the coupon that I didn’t even present and he gave me a drink 2 sizes larger than the coupon would have granted. This is true empowerment and it’s part of what makes for a warm and delightful customer experience at Starbucks. (Contrast the Starbucks empowerment with my encounter with a completely un-empowered donut shop employee.)

Train, empower and trust your employees to make decisions on the spot. True empowerment makes for a faster, more delightful and wonderfully memorable customer experience. A lack of empowerment results in a slower and more frustrating customer experience and it actually lowers employee morale. The choice is yours. What will you do?

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