Today’s stock market jitters have no doubt raised blood pressures across Wall Street, and sent many traders scrambling for an extra cup of coffee.
Which is why, this morning, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wrote an email to all of the company’s retail employees (known as “partners”) and managers, telling them to be extra-nice to customers who were feeling “an increased level of anxiety and concern” because of the crashing stock market.
“Today’s financial market volatility, combined with great political uncertainty both at home and abroad, will undoubtedly have an effect on consumer confidence and perhaps even our customers’ attitudes and behavior,” Schultz wrote, according to a copy of the email obtained by Fusion. “Our customers are likely to experience an increased level of anxiety and concern. Please recognize this and – as you always have – remember that our success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn, every day. Let’s be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling, and do everything we can to individually and collectively exceed their expectations.”
Schultz, who also presided over the ill-fated “Race Together” campaign, has tried to rally customers around economic activity before. In 2012, he encouraged baristas to write “Come Together” on coffee cups, in order to encourage lawmakers to put aside their differences and make a deal to avert the fiscal cliff. Schultz was rumored to be thinking about running for president in 2016, but has since batted down those rumors.
Schultz’s latest effort could come off as tone-deaf, despite its good intentions. After all, while today’s stock market whiplash might have stressed out Wall Street traders, it’s far from the worst incident in recent market history. If Schultz is so concerned about his customers’ economic woes, shouldn’t he have sent out emails when millions of Americans lost their homes in 2009?
Schultz’s full memo is below:
To: Starbucks partners; managing directors for company-operated and joint venture markets
Date: August 24, 2015
Re: Message from Howard: Leading Through Turbulent Times
During our 23-year history as a public company, we have experienced – and successfully navigated through – several periods of extreme stock market volatility. And although we are not immune from the global stock market selloff that has now made its way to Wall Street, my confidence in our company and in all of you has never been greater. We are in the midst of another record-setting year – combining our unique “third place” in-store experience with highly relevant coffee and tea innovation and differentiated customer-facing mobile and digital technologies. We are making a profound social impact in the communities we serve around the world, and will continue to do so today and into the future.
Our company has weathered many different types of storms. But our brand has never been stronger or more relevant. Our pipeline of new products and breakthrough innovation has never been more robust. And our long term commitment to delivering an elevated partner experience is unwavering. I can assure you that we will continue to lead and manage the company through the lens of humanity, doing everything we possibly can to continue to make your families proud of our company and all we stand for. You have my word on this.
Today’s financial market volatility, combined with great political uncertainty both at home and abroad, will undoubtedly have an effect on consumer confidence and perhaps even our customers’ attitudes and behavior. Our customers are likely to experience an increased level of anxiety and concern. Please recognize this and – as you always have – remember that our success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn, every day. Let’s be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling, and do everything we can to individually and collectively exceed their expectations.
Our growth plans for the future of our company will not be impacted by the turmoil of the financial markets. We will positively manage through today’s challenging environment just as we have positively navigated through challenging moments in the past. The experience we deliver in our stores, the strength and equity of our brand, and the primary reason for our current and future success is because of all of YOU. I believe in you and have never been prouder to be your partner.