Personalization is a Key to Success
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Personalization is a Key to Success

Francisca Hawkins, VP, Digital Marketing & Technology, Philz Coffee
Francisca Hawkins, VP, Digital Marketing & Technology, Philz Coffee

Francisca Hawkins, VP, Digital Marketing & Technology, Philz Coffee

At Philz Coffee, our vision is to make Philz a part of everyone’s day. For the past 25-years, we’ve been dedicating ourselves to bettering days, creating the best customer experience, one that comes to each person’s taste. Originally started in the Mission District in San Francisco by Phil Jaber and his son, Jacob, always believed personalization is a key to success.

Today, technology is redefining what personalization means. At Philz, devoting resources and energy to launching a best-in-class mobile app was something we knew would help better our customers’ days. Our goal was two-fold: we wanted it to be an authentic extension of our in-store experience and ensure that everyone could get their favorite Philz drink, without having to wait.

The app launched in Spring 2018 and we’ve seen rapid adoption and exponential growth from our customers who utilize the app on a daily basis. We have 98 percent positive in-app feedback. Currently, Philz Coffee is operating 47 stores and is expanding across the nation apart from its location in California and Washington D.C.

  Digital strategy can only turn into execution with the right partners, and with involvement from a range of stakeholders—including at the very top​  

Developed and designed in partnership with digital product agency Work & Co, the mobile experience enables easy ordering and discovery for Philz Coffee customers via a swipeable menu of our most popular coffee blends. Customers get drink recommendations from the favorites tab, each set with a default variant on how your barista would recommend it, and at the end of the order, you’ll see a photo of the barista making your drink directly through the app.


Philz has been built on consistent values, and these values were at the center of every decision with the mobile app.

• Put the customer experience first: If we put people first, we cannot fail.

• Be kind and keep it real: Sincerity wins. A genuine connection will outperform  formality.

• Be quality driven and progress focused: It’s not worth doing, or launching, unless it’s the best.

Digital strategy can only turn into execution with the right partners, and with involvement from a range of stakeholders—including at the very top. Our CEO Jacob Jaber was an integral part of the design process, ensuring it would truly put the customer experience first. Focusing on our value of kindness, we brought in genuine connection through elements like the barista photo and "made with love" team member signature on each drink label. Moments like this help translate the human experience into a digital one.


We knew from the beginning our employee’s experience would play a central role in the customer’s experience, and this took shape in two areas: the client-app and the barista drink dashboard app.

One of our insightful moments in creating our app was the need to see an image of who’s making your drink. It may sound like a small tweak, but it was a significant digital design decision, adding another complex layer to our build. But for us it made perfect sense—it turns a simple transaction into a true human connection. This digital design decision made it go from a simple transaction into a true human connection. Beyond honoring our employees by including them in the app experience, we had to ensure seamless functionality on their end.

Along with the consumer-facing app, we also designed a dashboard for the baristas to manage incoming app orders. This behind-the-scenes app became the most important component in creating a connected digital ecosystem for Philz. We realized if the barista dashboard wasn't operationally efficient for our team members, then our customers would have a less than perfect experience. Our team members were an integral part of the dashboard design process, from look and feel to the sound that the dashboard makes when a drink order arrives.


Digital transformation for Philz isn’t around an automation of tasks, it is about simplifying the process, giving our customers the best digital experience while staying true to personalization and quality.

Closing the gap in the customer journey to create a seamless offline and online experience is challenging. And as a founder-led, family run company, it’s no surprise how much humanity drives all of our business decisions, including our digital strategy.

Here’s three other ways we’ve been keeping humanity at the center.

• Platform accessibility: The app was built using React Native, a fast-maturing framework that promotes a shorter development cycle by allowing for a shared codebase between iOS and Android. We launched our new mobile app: iOS version first and then the Android version in rapid succession.

• Custom and consistent: React Native allows us to build a fully-custom app, no cookie cutter defaults that’s also consistent across platforms. As a result, the focus for Android is on testing and minor improvements versus building a new version from the ground-up.

• Data-driven design: Based on past-purchase behaviors, the app remembers and saves your favorites. Reorder your favorite Tesora or Mint Mojito with just a couple of taps. Apple Pay and Google Pay means you never need to take out your wallet.

As our feature set continues to grow, we’re leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), voice command, and wearables for an easier and faster one-click re-ordering experience. These solutions will provide the convenience our customers crave and deliver more options to get their Philz for the day.

From using conversational language on every screen, to seeing the barista making your coffee, we’re not building tech for tech’s sake. Instead, we're using technology as a vehicle to drive more human connections within our community, and that’s at the heart of our culture.

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