Inside a nearby Starbucks you might find a card sitting around that reads, “Create Community. Make a difference in someone’s day.”
You would probably think the card is simply there for inspiration sake. But it’s actually an ad for employment. If you turn the card around, you’ll read, “When you work at Starbucks, you can make a difference in someone’s day by creating an environment where neighbors and friends can get together and reconnect while enjoying a great coffee experience.”
Wow. A statement like that would convince me that Starbucks is selling more than just quality coffee – they’re selling an experience, too! And people are buying. Starbucks’ first quarter results for 2007 were astounding: Net revenues of $2.4 billion were an increase of 22 percent; plus, a record breaking 728 new stores opened during the quarter. Again, I say, “Wow.”
At Starbucks it’s not just beans and water. They’re in the business of creating environments where people can make meaningful connections that literally change the quality of their lives. And here’s a sample of what I’m talking about: My future sister-in-law, Sera, who works at Starbucks, recently demonstrated this “community” philosophy. When a new member of our church moved into town, and was visiting the church for only the second time, Sera approached him and said, “I recognize you. You came into Starbucks. Your name is George and your order is a tall Soy Chai.”
Wow! That experience would never have happened if Sera had looked at George as just another “order to fill.” But no, she connected with the person in front of the counter. She listened. She remembered. She cared. Now that’s customer service. That’s what creating community is all about. When we actually engage people like we care, when we listen to them, when we pay attention to the details, the likes, the dislikes, all the little idiosyncrasies – This is the kind of behavior that causes people to take notice, they see the realness in you, they begin to feel that the atmosphere where you are is a little different, a little better.
Isn’t it time we all do like Sera and the Starbucks paradigm? What if we could build up and promote that kind of community wherever we go? Within our church? What about your business? Mahatma Ghandi once said, “Be the difference you want to see in the world.” I mean, we all crave relationship. We all want community. So let’s just do it. Let’s be the ingredient that creates an environment where relationships are grown, and lives are changed, and things just happen. Let’s create community.