In November 2010 I wrote an article called “Herding Cats” that explored how increasingly difficult it is to build customer loyalty using conventional approaches and that companies who are serious about loyalty needed to focus on personal partnerships with their customers. It would seem that Starbucks have been listening because today they launched a very personal customer initiatives. From now on at Starbucks coffee houses across the UK you can be expected to be called by your name. As Starbucks says:

After all, it’s personal. That is why we put your name on it and promise that your drink will be perfect every time. If not we will make it again until it is

You can watch the promotional video below here – this is a pretty neat initiative

Starbucks evidently want to take being personal with their customers very seriously and what a better way than to start by asking you what your name is, and calling you by your name when you pick up your hot expertly brewed coffee. It’s a small step, as they say, but in my mind a very powerful one

Here is an excerpt from the article Herding Cats – Now all Starbucks needs to do is deliver the 3 rules/benefits of friendship and they will have the competition on the ropes!

Click here to read more or download Herding Cats

Herding Cats

Building customer partnerships, not customer loyalty

article by Dean van Leeuwen, November 2010


People seek relationships, even with companies. They want a place to be heard, a place to be appreciated and a place to connect. New social technologies are allowing us to take relationships with customers to –more–>higher levels. Connecting with customers’ personal values can place you ahead of the competition in winning the hearts and minds of your customers. Rather than building customer loyalty, companies need to take a step back, raise their game and start the long but rewarding task of building not loyalty but mutually beneficial relationships with customers. Get this right and you may just be able to herd cats.

The key to customer loyalty: Deliver the benefits of friendships

As pointed out, people want relationships. Our desire for human connections and interactions is part of how we are wired. For the past hundred years since the industrialisation of the production line, businesses have created an artificial and unnatural divide between people and business. The businesses that will be successful in the future will close this divide by creating emotional connections with their staff, partners and customers. They will also focus on mutually beneficial two-way partnerships that deliver the benefits of friendship.

When we use the word friendship here, we are not talking about glib friendships or kumbaya moments where you rush out to hug your customers and invite them to be “friends” on Facebook. We are referring to creating mutually beneficial relationships that deliver the benefits of friendship. Michael Argyle and Monika Henderson have been conducting research at Oxford University on friendships. Their results, which have been published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationship, identified that three universal rules are always prevalent in any growing strong and relationship. This framework of friendship includes:

  1. Providing support
  2. Sharing dreams and aspirations
  3. Encouraging other friendships.



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