Welcome to my Coffee Journey. This post is part of the 2022's A - Z Blogging Challenge as well as the Ultimate Blog Challenge.
So before you begin to read, grab yourself a cup of coffee and get into the mood!
As stated in my reveal post, this year is dedicated to all things (Starbucks) Coffee. One of the first things you may notice as you enter the store as a customer, is that everyone is wearing the iconic green apron.
Everybody except the person who's wearing the black apron, that is.
What's the significance of the black apron? Is it like in martial arts? The darker, the stronger or more experienced?
Black aprons are awarded to Starbucks partners (employees) who achieved Coffee Master level by studying and applying any coffee related topic: coffee cultivation, harvesting, roasting, preparing and tasting.
During my tenure it was my team's responsibility to roll out the Coffee Master program, and being a good role model, I went ahead and participated in the process every single year.
After all that time, a friend invited me to her presentation last spring. You may read about it here.
Once you've passed the entire procedure, you're given the black apron to wear and to cherish.
What about the red aprons?
These are being worn during the holidays. I look forward to the returning of the red aprons - and cups - every November. I won't be able to avoid talking more about the merry season in some of the upcoming posts.
On rare occasions you may even spot a pink apron.
Happened to me one year for Valentine's Day, and another time in summer. I found out it was related to a Flamingo Frappuccino promotion.
Back to the classic green apron though. The term green apron has a special meaning that is related to the corporate culture.
Let me explain.
Any company in the retail and / or gastronomy sector is used to getting countless messages from customers. Most are complaints.
- "The barista told me they were out of (insert ingredient or product), this is unacceptable."
- "Why can't I pay, using my Twint App"? (Twint has become increasingly popular means of electronic payment in Switzerland. Even more so during the pandemic.)
- "I want (insert beverage that is not available in our market). But I saw it on Tik Tok!!!"
Luckily, Starbucks' customer service people also receive positive feedback, and they made it a point to share the respective messages with the stores and people. Over time they noticed the behavior the customers described, included the same qualities over and over. Friendly, helpful, caring, competent, cheerful,...
They started to collect and categorize the attributes, and they got to thinking: if these traits make our customers happy, we should make sure that all of our baristas exhibit these behaviors. Together with HR, the "Green Apron Behaviors" were developed, and training materials were rolled out.
Now if you're an unhappy, grumpy person, you probably can't be trained to be bubbly and a joy to be around. Over time, though, hiring managers started to look for these behaviors in potential new employees.
For existing partners it became an appreciation program. They awarded each other "Green Apron Cards" when they observed a colleague exhibiting the respective quality!
What were they?
- Be Welcoming – Offer everyone a sense of belonging. What goes around, comes around. If you greet your customers as if they were long lost friends, they can’t help but smile back, right?
- Be Genuine – Connect. Respond. Discover – Connect with the customer to figure out how to best deliver what he or she wants.
- Be Involved – Connect with one another, with the company, and with the community. Starbucks offers lots of opportunities to get involved. It’s a great altruistic goal. Both customers and partners can look for volunteering projects to get involved with.
- Be Knowledgeable – Love what you do, and share it with others. It always helps to know your job well. In today’s fast paced world, there are constant changes that require a person to be flexible and keep on top of products and procedures.
- Be Considerate – Take care of yourself, each other, and the environment.
More about the mission statement and the corporate culture later this month.
Are you a Starbucks customer? Can you actually observe that the baristas who serve you display these characteristics?
Let me know in the comments below and make sure to come back tomorrow.