Real Impact: Streat at RelateLive

Bec Scott presents (in a short interview) enough emotional content to fill ten keynotes.

(Part 3 of many. I’m representing Real World Technology Solutions today at RelateLive, Zendesk’s conference in Sydney on customer experience. All of the views expressed below are my own, independent of my relationships with Real World and Zendesk.)

Ask anyone at RelateLive Sydney 2016 what the most impactful presentation was during Day 1, and the majority will respond with: Streat.

Sarah Stealey Reed briefly interviewed Bec Scott (CEO and co-founder of Streat) during the morning sessions. It wasn’t a presentation. There were no talk notes or slide decks. It was just a short commentary on conscious consumerism, and the origins of a philanthropic coffee-based organisation.

You heard me right. Coffee + social change = Streat.

The first thing Bec described was clear: “Our business model is social change. It’s at the core of our company. Our job is: how can we do the most amount of good with this coffee today.”

Let’s review. The root and main intention of the hippocratic oath (for all medical professionals) is: first, do no harm. Bec acknowledged that: “consumers usually say: I want to do no harm, do no damage. But what’s beyond that?”

My first reactive response was to think: do we really usually say this? Outside of doctors and nurses, do we wake up each day and say to ourselves: first, do no harm? It’s a common refrain, but: does anyone besides myself care about this?

Bec knows this to be true. She said their first port of call was to learn more about the motivations of their customers. This is a direct quote: “Do they actually give a shit?”

(Image credit: Relate)

Streat worked with HeathWallace (an agency providing digital solutions for global brands) to assess just this. Using digital innovation research, they asked: “Do you care that with this coffee, you’re stopping homelessness?”

Again, let’s review. For everyone just tuning in, Streat’s vision is: “To stop youth homelessness and disadvantage, one mouthful at a time.” It focused on taking homeless or disadvantaged youths, training them through hands-on employment, and providing them with steps to get them work-force-ready. Which — by any stretch of the imagination — is a prize-worthy social effort to impact real change.

Let’s not sugar-coat this. Streat is changing people’s lives.

From their website, they describe the process:

“When STREAT kickstarted it offered a six-month Certificate II program to its young people. This has now evolved into a suite of programs including hospitality short courses, a Certificate II program, work experience opportunities and a creative arts program. We now understand that young people need a whole pathway of opportunities, and sometimes the first step has to be very small.”

In her talk with RelateLive, Bec said they found three different customer reactions, which were usually quite easily scalable.

  1. When faced with the question: “Do you know that this coffee is helping to solve homelessness?” — the patron often became overwhelmed.
    “Really? Just me? I’m only one person.”
    Within that aversion to the weight of single-handedly solving homelessness, the customer often followed up with questions.
    “Tell me how it’s possible? What am I doing?”
  2. When the coffee-provider described Streat’s mission and vision, and told them more about the process, the customer realised they were part of something bigger. Bec said: “This usually creeps up with the second coffee. We don’t try to shove it down anyone’s throat. In fact, it has to be quite subtle. If we give them a good experience (and we make them good coffee!), they might come back. And maybe the second time, they might ask about how the coffee patronage as a whole is affecting our overall aim.” Case in point: these people have begun to feel tribal. Collective action is changing things, even in one coffee shop.
  3. The third level, Bec explained, is when we describe to them: you know, it’s not just this Streat. We have places all over Melbourne. It’s more than just us.

By the third step in the customer journey (or the evolving emotional experience), there has been a three point shift, from despair → tribal → movement.

(Image credit: Relate)

This is collective action.

This is 3 different levels of how today’s choice of caffeine fulfilment matters.

“Most of us want to do good — at the very least, we don’t want to do bad — but we don’t have the information.”

After detailing that customer journey, Bec said, they asked the customers how they would like to have that relevant information delivered to them.

Pause.

Streat asked their customers: how would you like us to tell you the ways in which you are making a difference?

This question alone feels revolutionary to me, even though it was glossed over quickly in the discussion. (Why don’t we ask more people how they want to hear something?)

The customers responded: not on screens. Not on the phone.

“We were presented with the unique problem with how to fulfil this request,” Bec explained. “It’s not relying on a screen, or social media. They wanted this information in a non-technological way. How do we offer this to them?”

Streat created a red button. (Great incentive: who’s not going to push the red button?)

When you pressed the irresistibly red button, a number was displayed. This was the amount of training provided to homeless and disadvantaged youths, in minutes. Which means: the number was likely to change, as you were standing there, watching it.

This is, quantitatively, the number of opportunities Streat can provide. Just because you bought your morning coffee there.

Bec said: “Most of us want to do good — at the very least, we don’t want to do bad — but we don’t have the information.” Having said that, she offered up an amazing resource, for our ability to notate exactly how lightly we tread on the planet: www.slaveryfootprint.org.

How many people are employed through any kind of slavery for you to have the electronics in your home? Your car? The clothes in your closet? These aren’t questions we should distance ourselves from. These are questions we should be interrogating, investigating, and information we should be changing in our own direct actions.

At the end of her (ten minute!) talk, Bec left with these final ideas: “The core of business should be: to do the most amount of good, and making it implicit and transparent. By doing this, we transform the very nature of capitalism. We’re the ones who hold the power. The dollar is your vote.

Sarah reiterated: “Even your micro-decisions make an influence.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to order a coffee.

More soon.

Emma Sedlak
Communications Manager
Real World Technology Solutions