In the Spotlight: Employee Engagement and Customer Experience

Recently, J.D. Power and Associates recognized various companies for ranking highest in customer satisfaction in their respective industries.  For two years running, one young and growing company has dominated the specialty coffee retailer industry in levels of customer satisfaction: Dutch Bros. Coffee.

For two years, Dutch Bros. Coffee has outshined industry giants (here’s lookin’ at you, Starbucks—we don’t want to pay $7.00 for a latté made by a surly barista anymore).  On its About Us page, Dutch Bros. Coffee relates how it “has always focused more on people than the bottom line, with a desire to transform lives rather than conduct transactions” (emphasis added).  The company has clearly lived up to this claim—some customers’ lives have been so transformed that they’ve opted to hold their wedding ceremony and reception at a Dutch Bros. location.

Employee Engagement and Customer Experience

Clearly, focusing on people is effective—Dutch Bros. has grown from a single push-cart coffee stand to a franchising company with nearly 200 locations in 7 U.S. states in just 21 years.  To the competition, Dutch Bros.’ success is staggering.

“Our customers are the best, man, and so are our bro-istas,” says company co-founder Travis Boersma. “They rip and they rock, and it’s all about the people.”
“Staff friendliness and positive interaction with the customer are keys to achieving high levels of satisfaction,” said Sally Lombardo, director of research operations at J.D. Power and Associates. “A specialty coffee retailer whose staff learns to master these skills may not only achieve high customer satisfaction, but also benefit from positive recommendations, customer loyalty and attachment to the brand.”

As humans, we’re usually friendlier when we’re happier—right?  (Maybe all Dutch Bros. employees are so happy because they have a seemingly unlimited access to delicious, caffeinated, “liquid love.”)

From a human-resources standpoint, happiness and engagement are closely related—ignoring the positive emotional-effects of coffee.  Perhaps, then, the lesson we should all learn from Dutch Bros.’ success is that a people-centric company culture is what drives success.  It probably wouldn’t hurt to give your employees an energy-boost, too.

Our extensive research and experience in the customer-service industry confirms that when companies focus on the people aspect of business they see positive results in profitability, competitive advantage, and growth.  Remember, engaged employees lead to happy customers—and customers ultimately decide which businesses succeed and which businesses fail.  So, what other companies are focusing on transforming the lives of their employees to drive success and break records?  What are some people-centric tactics organizations should employ?

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