More than a decade ago, Jeff (my husband) and I lived in Seattle and we couldn’t walk down the street without seeing a Starbucks on nearly every corner. For Jeff, who savors a flavorful cup of coffee each morning, it was heaven on earth. For me, a non-coffee drinker, I was intrigued by the brand’s skyrocketing popularity and its ardent fans.

Little did I know that my path would eventually cross with Dr. Joseph A. Michelli, a leading expert on Starbucks. Michelli also is a #1 New York Times best-selling author, international speaker and organizational consultant. Michelli is best known for developing joyful and productive workplaces with a focus on the total customer experience. His past books have featured Zappos, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, and Starbucks.

Dr. Joseph A. Michelli, a leading expert on Starbucks. Michelli also is a #1 New York Times best-selling author, international speaker and organizational consultant.

Last week, I was honored to be invited by Michelli to hear him discuss advance insights from his newest book, “Leading the Starbucks Way: Five Principles for Connecting with Your Customers, Your Products, and Your People.” His book will be published in September 2013.

Starbucks is an incredible success story. With 18,000 stores in 62 countries, the company continues to achieve record profits and sales. In fact, Starbucks’ market cap is around $43 billion. It was founded in 1971 as a goods provider that also sold products business-to-business.

Now, Starbucks is a service provider that sells directly to the consumer. It is from the consumer’s perspective that Michelli shares the inside story on Starbucks’ next evolution.

“Today’s customers value relationships. We can make business complicated. But, customers want to feel that they matter. After that, people are fairly forgiving. They want to have ongoing relationships with companies and to know that you care about them,” explained Michelli.

He went on to say, “In Starbucks’ case, in order to move to the next level, they are focusing on five principles from the customer’s perspective. These principles include: Savor and elevate; love to be loved; reach for common ground; mobilize the connection; and cherish and challenge your legacy.”

According to Michelli, “Savor and Elevate” is keeping the focus on your product passion. In Starbucks’ case, their product passion is coffee. They provide immersive experiences to their employees. That’s why, their employees have a passion for what they’re selling and then connect customers to that passion.

The second principle is: “Love to be loved,” is being a beloved brand. Michelli says that trust among your customers comes before love. Customers expect you to be competent (which equals satisfaction). They want you to have integrity. Customers want to be proud of their choice to do business with you. They want a passionate relationships and for you to know what impact your business is having on humanity.

“Reach for Common Ground” is to serve the unifying truths of humanity. Michelli emphasized that customers want attention and customers want to be appreciated. Customers want to go to a place that is communal and has a sense of comfort. They want variety which is really the “surprise and delight” aspect of customer service.

“Mobilize the Connection” is maximizing all of the technologies so customer relationships can be extended into the mobile space along with a company’s products. Michelli wants you to think about ways to use digital networks to create experiences for customers.

“Cherish and Challenge Your Legacy” is understanding why you are doing your business. What do you want people to say when you’re dead? How do you want to leave the world? If you could remember your life and write it in one sentence, what would it be?

Yes – I admire Michelli. We stay in touch via email and Twitter. He continues to inspire me with his unique ability to cut through the complexity of corporate life and help companies authentically connect with customers. To me, that talent is priceless.