Customer Experience University - Winning Loyalty & Engagement One Customer at a Time

New York Times #1 bestselling author, Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., shares customer experience, leadership, and business insights from Mercedes-Benz, Starbucks, Ritz-Carlton, Zappos, Pike Place Fish, and many more.



At The Michelli Experience, we help front-line employees, managers, and senior leaders deliver relevant and engaging service experiences. To that end, we provide keynote and workshop presentations, short-term and extended consulting services, and bestselling books to meet your needs.

For context and based on requests, I'm in the process of presenting key concepts from my ten McGraw-Hill customer experience and leadership books. This is the first in the five-part series, "How to Drive Delight the Mercedes-Benz Way."

In my book, Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way, I outlined leadership and customer experience strategies that catapulted Mercedes-Benz USA from 22nd on the JD Power Customer Satisfaction Index to the number one position.

As a consultant who worked on the Mercedes-Benz customer experience transformation, I'll offer an inside look at the key leadership actions that pushed Mercedes-Benz to service greatness.

Have you assessed the current state and envisioned your optimal customer experience?

This is the final post in a 5-post series about my book Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles to Connect with Your Customers, Your Products, and Your People.

In the context of Cherish and Challenge Your Legacy, I asked, then CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz what he wanted his legacy to be. He responded, “I want to build a lasting brand that elevates lives one cup at a time.” Upon his retirement a few years ago, it was clear to me that Howard’s legacy was intact. But that outcome wasn’t always certain. In fact, Howard had to return to the CEO position from his role as Chief Global Strategist to execute a bold transformational agenda that I chronicle in Leading the Starbucks Way. Howard and his leadership team had to also make difficult choices and invest wisely to ensure they stewarded a “lasting brand that elevates lives one cup at a time.”

What do you want your leadership legacy to be?

Dr. Michelli discusses five things customer service professionals should always say...

This is the fourth in a 5-part series and we're continuing on through the business concepts in my book Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles to Connect with Your Customers, Your Products, and Your People.

In the context of my principle, Mobilize the Connection, I talked with, then CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz about digital transformation. He noted, “We started before there was a digital revolution; the third place was our stores. Our mobile focus has evolved to the point where everyone is getting primary information and communicating in a way that was nonexistent before. I don’t think any enterprise or organization can exist in the future without having a primary relevant position in the minds and hearts of people through a digital platform. Many brands will come and go in terms of relevancy and trust in the digital world, as trust and relevance will be harder to maintain digitally than through a physical presence.”

Does your digital strategy integrate multiple approaches to engage people across a mass-market and individually?

This is the third in a 5-post series, How to Deliver World-Class Customer Experiences – Leading the Starbucks Way, as we continue through the business concepts in my book Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles to Connect with Your Customers, Your Products, and Your People.

In the context of my principle, Reach for Common Ground, I highlight two competing perspectives held by cultural anthropologists - universalism and cultural relativism. While the words are daunting, the concepts are straightforward. Universalism suggests that the underlying similarities of all people are greater than cultural differences. By contrast, cultural relativism asserts that cultural differences have the most profound effect on people making it difficult for “outsiders” to fully understand a relevant context of behavior. While anthropologists may argue about universalism or cultural relativism, most business owners and leaders are not interested in winning a debate. Instead, we need to scale our business to maximize commonalities while making local adjustments to ensure market acceptance.

How do you determine if you should vary your offering or drive consistency across locations?

This is the second in a 5-post series, “How to Deliver World-Class Customer Experiences – Leading the Starbucks Way." In this installment, we continue to explore business concepts in my book Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles to Connect with Your Customers, Your Products, and Your People.

When sitting across from Howard Schultz (the former CEO of Starbucks) it doesn’t take him long to get to the heart of leadership excellence which explains why I titled a Starbucks business principle “Love to be Loved.”

From Howard’s perspective, much of leadership comes down to three traits: “Take love, humanity, and humility and then place them in a performance-driven organization. Those humanistic elements in performance may seem in conflict to the naked eye. But I believe performance is significantly enhanced by human-centric leadership. I am convinced of it because we have become more performance-driven than at any other time in our history and the values of the company are at a high level. If we can infuse love, humanity, and humility on a global basis and build it into a performance-driven organization, we are unbeatable.”

In what ways are you managing through the lens of humanity while still maintaining high-performance expectations? 

For context and based on requests, I’m in the process of presenting key concepts from my ten McGraw-Hill customer experience and leadership books. This is the first in a five-part series, “How to Deliver World-Class Customer Experiences – Leading the Starbucks Way."  

The story of Starbucks' meteoric growth during the 1990s and early 2000s is well chronicled in a series of books about the company including one I wrote titled The Starbucks Experience. However, by the mid-2000s the company was reeling from years of frenzied expansion, an obsession for year-over-year sales numbers, a sliding global economy, and less frequent visits from loyal customers in Starbucks’ U.S. stores.

In the book, I wrote during the Starbucks revitalization titled Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles to Connect with Your Customers, Your Products, and Your People, I outlined leadership and customer experience tactics that supported Starbucks' transformation plan.

To effectively elevate Starbucks to “be the undisputed coffee authority,” leadership redoubled efforts to drive a passion for the company’s core offering - coffee. While many leaders do not view product passion as a necessary component for sales success, it certainly differentiates sales leaders like Starbucks from most other competitors.

What are you doing to help your people become the undisputed authority in your sector? 

This is the final post in my series titled – “Customer Experience Excellence – The Airbnb Way."

This week we continue to journey through key concepts found in my 10 leadership books, as we finish our quick review of my book titled The Airbnb Way - 5 Leadership Lessons for Igniting Growth through Loyalty, Community, and Belonging. Throughout this series, we’ve explored belonging, trust, hospitality, and empowerment. This week we highlight community.

The Airbnb Way is filled with examples and tactics for bringing stakeholders together to enhance community.

How are you helping your customers come together as a community?

This is the fourth in a 5-post series titled "Customer Experience Excellence – The Airbnb Way."

This week we continue to journey through key concepts found in my 10 leadership books by diving back into our cursory review of my book titled The Airbnb Way - 5 Leadership Lessons for Igniting Growth through Loyalty, Community, and Belonging.

Last week we touched on hospitality. This week we will spotlight empowerment and next week we will round out this series by discussing community.

At the core of Airbnb’s value proposition is empowerment. The platform enables people to use the economic power of their homes to generate revenue. In fact, Airbnb leaders have crafted an “Economic Empowerment Agenda.”

In The Airbnb Way, I go beyond the macroeconomics of the platform and explore how leaders enable and empower their teams, hosts, and guests.

Since empowerment is a multi-dimensional social process that helps people gain control and foster power, what processes do you have in place to foster power and control for your team members and customers? 

This is the third in a 5-part series. This week we continue to journey through key concepts found in my 10 leadership books. Let’s rejoin our brisk review of my book titled The Airbnb Way - 5 Leadership Lessons for Igniting Growth through Loyalty, Community, and Belonging.

Last week we touched on trust. This week we will highlight hospitality and in the weeks ahead we will explore empowerment and community.

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