In a nod to truly understanding their audience, Starbucks has opened up a new store in Washington, DC that caters to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. It’s located near Gallaudet University, an institution for deaf students, and features 24 employees who are proficient in American Sign Language.

Starbucks seeks not only to serve the deaf community but to provide employment opportunities for them. Through the use of ASL as well as technology, deaf employees are able to interact with customers and hold supervisory roles – something that Starbucks hopes will set an example for other businesses.

It’s a niche that may not work everywhere but given its location, it makes perfect sense. Is there a segment of your audience that you could serve more effectively? Maybe you could print some materials in another language to serve your ethnic neighbors. Offer more accommodating hours to meet the needs of those working third shift. Provide larger waiting rooms with child-friendly areas for those who must obtain your services with children in tow.

One size does not have to fit all. Thrive by being cognizant of what your individual customers need and then specialize your offerings to fulfill it.

Photo by Joshua Trujillo/Starbucks




About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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