Business Book Review: The Starbucks Experience

This week’s post is on The Starbucks Experience – written by Joseph A. Michelli (2006), the founder of Lessons for Success, a training, consulting, and keynote presentation company. He also hosts an award-winning daily radio show on KVOR-AM in Colorado and speaks to various organizations throughout the world.

Our guest writer is Brandon, an MC intern who is focused on building out the MC Job Hub and Social Media programs.

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Why Read The Book

This is not just your normal business book about a company. In fact, it is way more than just that: it is a book about an organization that has somehow managed to turn an ordinary cup of coffee, something that 25 years ago was ordinary and boring, into something extraordinary, something that has become a worldwide business phenomenon. This is a book about Starbucks, a company that has managed in the short time of its existence to change cultural and societal norms, and make a $5 cup of coffee normal.

This book will enlighten you to think differently and see how to do business from a different perspective. You will find yourself at times wondering, “Why didn’t I ever think of that?”,”Why didn’t I ever think that way?” or “Why has this not been done before?” By reading this book, you accept an invitation to learn from a company that has not only managed to be an extremely successful business, but has also left a positive impact on every society and culture that it has entered.

Quick Overview 

This book will challenge you and encourage you as you go on a journey with the author through the 5 guiding principles that have helped make Starbucks a worldwide coffee selling behemoth. You will learn about how these principles have enabled them to endure through some of most challenging times throughout their history, how they have used criticism to propel them to greater heights, and, as a result, how you can transform your life and business.

Your mind will be renewed on many different business topics as you read this book, topics ranging from marketing, public relations, how to interact and not interact with employees, and how to make and not make sound business decisions. You will learn both from Starbucks’ successes and from their failures.

3 Interesting Book Insights 

Many businesses just give a customer what they would expect, but Starbucks has an abiding principle of surprise and delight. They don’t just want to meet a customer’s expectations; they want to wow and delight them. It is with that in mind that Starbucks trains its employees to look for opportunities to not only surprise and delight their customers but also their own employees as well.

One such example that illustrates this point well was done by Starbucks employees to a fellow employee named Bernadette Robinson: Bernadette Robinson was a single mother of three at the time, whose family literally tripled in size overnight after she rescued her six nieces and nephews, who had been placed in state custody. Her co-workers knew about Bernadette’s huge heart and her small apartment, so they launched an all-out campaign to get the attention of Oprah Winfrey’s television show producers. Unbeknownst to Bernadette, the other partners at the store did all they could to get Oprah to help their colleague. They aggressively bombarded Oprah with pleas on Bernadette’s behalf. Ultimately, Oprah surprised Bernadette by showing up at the Starbucks counter where Bernadette worked! In response to Bernadette’s colleagues’ requests for assistance, Oprah provided a shopping spree for all the children in Bernadette’s care and, more important, a new, furnished home for Bernadette and her family.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is fond of saying that “retail is detail.” Starbucks understands this very well, which is why one of their guiding principles is “Everything Matters.” In their opinion, when details are overlooked or missed, even the most patient of customers can be frustrated, and costly errors can occur. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of unhappy customers bring their complaints directly to management. They simply go elsewhere, spending their hard-earned dollars at competitors’ stores and sharing their grievances with scores of family members, friends, and acquaintances. As unfair as it may seem, in the world of business – Everything Matters.

Starbucks does something absolutely incredible that few businesses dare to do: they never let the rules and regulations of their business restrict their employees ability to act and care for a customer, a person, or an employee. For example, every Starbucks store is operated like a small business, to where any employee can make a decision to whether they are going to make someone’s day by giving away a free food item or beverage, thus giving an extraordinary personal customer service experience. So often, businesses have to check with their operations team or someone outside the store level before being able to do something that would leave a monumental impact on the consumer.

Overall Summary/Conclusion 

All in all, this book is amazing, both easy and fun to read. Joseph A. Michelli did a phenomenal job of laying out the keys to Starbucks amazing success story. This book provides timeless principles that any business and person can easily put into practice to improve their business and themselves.  

Starbucks has demonstrated that their way to do things is a proven path to success. I challenge you to pick up this book and learn from a company that has changed the way the world does life.


To grab a copy of The Starbucks Experience, click here.

Filed Under: Business Books