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Dunkin’ Donuts’ Tip: Everything That Your Customer Touches Defines Who You Are

We can learn a lot from Dunkin’ Donuts when it comes to taking care of customers.

We chanced upon an article which covered the 2nd Annual Forrester Research Customer Experience Forum in 2010, where Dunkin’ Brands’ John Costello (the company’s chief global customer and marketing officer) discussed the theme of the event, “creating breakthrough customer experiences.”

Remember when we featured how the company has been bagging the no. 1 spot in Customer Loyalty Engagement for six years in a row now? Dunkin’ Donuts is indeed one of those companies which have been steadily unswerving with what it stood for. Dunkin’ Donuts stands for donuts and coffee at the time that it started 60 years ago, and it still stands for that till now. It may sound easy, but Costello admits about the challenge they faced: how do they keep a 60-year-old brand relevant to today’s modern consumers?

Their answer is something we all hear from everywhere: becoming customer-centric. But how they did it is the thing that caught my attention: all areas that their customer touches defined who Dunkin’ Donuts is and have become.

As Costello explained, “everything that the customer touches are the things that define our brand—our events, the web, signage, advertising, social media, Dunkin’s presence in its community, our in-store environment and the product itself. This is what drives us.” They are guided by 6 principles:

Dunkin’ makes it a point to know their best customers. They realize that their regular customers are regular persons, and management and their apron-clad servers are aware that even their most loyal ones can still “cheat” on them—they can always buy coffee somewhere else. So the company’s passion is about preserving their customers’ loyalty—finding ways to lure them back no matter how good the competition is, like easy auto-charges on their customers’ Dunkin’cards, and the like.

Be different, or disappear. They realize that to stay on top they have to focus on what makes them unique and different from all others. They have identified their brand personality—unpretentious and down-to earth. They make sure that when someone asks “why would I opt for your brand?” they can answer it easily: Dunkin is about “getting fueled in the morning, and keeping customers going all day,” as opposed to “hanging out and surfing the net while sipping coffee.”

They believe in providing the 360-degree customer touchpoints. That is, using each and every medium available to them to be able to provide a 360-degree experience to the customers. As they aim to be “friendly, helpful and fast,” they continuously invite customer feedback and makes use of these feedbacks to improve. They ingrain to their apron-clad in-store teams that they are the chief brand ambassadors of Dunkin’, the customers’ focal contact point. They also make use of Facebook and Twitter, along with many other media.

They think and plan long term. They invest not just on their sales but mostly on the brand itself, realizing that building a great, distinguished brand takes a long time.

They’re not afraid of hiring people better than themselves. Knowing that a group of qualified people can achieve more than what one mind can do, Dunkin’ always sets out to assemble impressive teams who can find more ways to delight Dunkin’ Donuts customers.

And lastly, they have fun! Costello pointed out that they take the brand and the business seriously, but the people working for Dunkin’ do not take themselves seriously. They enjoy what they do and always find time to have fun.