Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Re-Experiencing Starbucks, Update 7 – Listening to Customers

Posted by Becky Carroll on June 26, 2008

reExperiencing StarbucksPart 7 of the ongoing ReExperiencing Starbucks project with Jay Ehret from The Marketing SpotSurvey at the end of the post - please tell us what you think about the changes at Starbucks!

Slowly but surely, Starbucks seems to be listening.  I blogged about MyStarbucksIdea when it first came out, and there were a lot of improvements to make.  I believe Starbucks has made a real effort over the past few months that they have been up and running with MyStarbucksIdea.   I have seen improvements on both the IdeaSite (new term?) as well as in person.  Read on…

IdeaSite Improvements

MyStarbucksIdea was heavily criticized when it first came out.  The Customers Rock! perspective on it was this – it is good to see Starbucks out there engaging their customers this way.  And boy, have they been engaged!  Thousands of customer ideas have gone on the site, with the majority of the ideas being about the coffee drinks themselves (no surprise here) and then the atmosphere and locations.  What should these ideas tell Starbucks?  First, it should tell them that customers are coming for the coffee, so make sure to get that right.  Second, customers are still in search of what they used to have at Starbucks, that “3rd place” to hang out and relax with friends.

Maybe customers don’t come up with a lot of new or innovative ideas, but the dialogue is a great way for Starbucks to get inside their customers’ heads and see how they think. 

In addition, I am glad to see Starbucks beginning to participate more in the conversation on the site, as well as soliciting direct feedback on how to improve the site.  Be sure to click into that post and read the comments; you can watch a little mini-community forming as you go.  :)

Interaction with Corporate – In Person!

I also had the good fortune of interacting with two gentlemen from Starbucks Corporate recently.  Apparently, part of their role is to go out and visit the Starbucks in their area to see how things are going.  They stopped me on my way out of the line to ask me about “my experience”.  I was happy to share my thoughts with them – about bathroom cleanliness (spotty), about the atmosphere (I like it), about my favorite drink (Passion Iced Tea, sweetened), about how the service seems on weekdays vs the weekends (better when they are busy, I think).  I then revealed that I blog here at Customers Rock! and shared about this ongoing Starbucks Project with them.  They asked me a few more questions before moving on to their meeting with the local supervisory team.

After they left, the employees there thanked me for my kind words and gave me a free drink.  Thanks, guys!

Although I would have loved to see the visitors from Corporate commenting here on my blog, I am pleased to see a team out inspecting the stores and asking customers about their experience.  Kudos to you, Starbucks, for getting out there and interacting face to face with customers.  It is more valuable than you think!

Please Fill Out Our Starbucks Survey!

Jay and I have put together a short survey to see what you, our readers, think about Starbucks and its “re-Experience” project.  Please take just a minute to click on this survey link and fill it out.  You could even win, what else, a gift card to Starbucks!  We will be sure to report the results here soon.

Also see Jay Ehret’s blog The Marketing Spotfor more Starbucks insight on “The Perfect Frappuccino”, as well as Meikah Delid who is keeping her related Starbucks series going with The Sixth Step for Starbucks.  Thanks, Meikah!

Related Customers Rock! posts in the Re-Experiencing Starbucks project series:

Re-Experiencing Starbucks

Part 2: Transformation Starting

Part 3: The Training

Part 4: Little Things

Part 5: MyStarbucksIdea

Part 6: The Card

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3 Responses to “Re-Experiencing Starbucks, Update 7 – Listening to Customers”

  1. Here we have at work, the quintessential problem with 99.5% of experience management and customer feedback problems today: the lack of improvements. Yes, it has been a relatively short time since SBUX “relaunched”, but the changes they made, at least on my part of the world, have not stuck. Pike Place Roast was good for the better part of a week, now it is back to being old and burnt. Food is back to being not-that-good and stale in some cases. And the drive-thru lost what they had gained in getting the drinks right to go back to almost reminding me of that scene in Lethal Weapon 2, when “Leo” (Joe Pesci) says “you never go to the drive thru, they always get your order wrong… by the time you realize you so far away you don’t go back”. (paraphrasing – in case you have seen the movie).

    This post made me think about it, and I can see the problem is the same that repeats in plenty of places across the world: changes are not implemented because they go “back to committee”. In other words, SBUX in my corner of the world has no power to make changes to their own store. SBUX is so concerned with becoming the MC Donald of coffee that, unfortunately, they are getting there. Each small store should have leeway in making the changes they see fit, and in (within reason) accommodating their customers. Maybe someone else gets that experience (which means my local stores are run by lazy, careless people) but I seriously doubt it. They are stuck to franchise methods for brewing and serving, that even if they can make it better they won’t.

    This is the same across corporations globally. The results of feedback events go back to a “committee” or similar entity that is lacking two things they need to make the changes: 1) the constant contact with the customer (which will let them understand what is going on at that level), and 2) a customer-focused approach to improvements. If the changes don’t affect me personally, I will go ahead and recommend them… thus, the SBUX loyalty program is born, which most customers don’t care for, nor agree with — and it is not even supported by their POS!

    Anyways, I digress… I don’t want to turn this into a rant… this is not about SBUX, it is about just about every organization in the last few years that decided to “listen” to the customer. It seems it is done from inside a sound-proof booth, with noise-reduction headsets on… and blinders (just in case, we don’t want to get distracted with them customers – you know)

  2. Hi, Becky!

    Wow, this project is really making good progress. I checked out (my first time, and apologize for that) MyStarbucksIdea, and it’s a good move!

    Let’s keep at it!

    Best regards,
    Meikah

  3. [...] Re-Experiencing Starbucks: Update 7 – Listening to Customers June 26, 2008 [...]

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