Customers Rock!

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

Re-Experiencing Starbucks: Transformation Starting

Posted by Becky Carroll on February 15, 2008

sbucks-photo-cups.jpg Part 2 in the ongoing project “Re-Experiencing Starbucks”, with Jay Ehret.

This past Monday, Starbucks issued two “Transformation Agenda Communications” about some of the changes it is making in its effort renew the Starbucks experience.  You may have heard about the first one – free WiFi.  This is described in Howard Schultz’s communication in this way:

“Over the past couple of weeks, I have spoken with you about our plans to transform our company and to be laser focused on our customers. Today, I am pleased to share with you another action that will enrich the Starbucks Experience through innovation.”

I love the language used here: “be laser-focused on our customers”.  Many of you left comments on the last post, which introduced the Starbucks experience project, and mentioned you would like to see free WiFi at Starbucks (Jay also mentioned it in his first Starbucks post).  So it seems this is a frequently-requested item at the cafes!  This will affect me in this way: it will drive me to go and register my Starbucks Card, as those with Starbucks Cards will get the two free hours of WiFi (the rest of you will pay $3.99 (I believe), which is still less than you would pay now with their current service provider).   Look for this in the spring of this year – I will be!

I also like that Mr. Schultz is offering complimentary AT&T WiFi accounts to Starbucks partners (employees) for them to use at the store.  This is a great way to help build up partner morale.  Remember, taking care of employees helps you take care of customers!

Along those lines, you may not have heard about the second Transformation Agenda Communication: Starbucks will be conducting a company-wide partner training here in the U.S. about espresso. 

“As part of our ongoing efforts to transform the company and renew our focus on the customer, we have announced an historic in-store education and training event for our more than 135,000 store partners across the United States. We will close each of our nearly 7,100 company-operated stores in the U.S. on Tuesday, February 26 at 5:30 p.m., local time, to conduct a nationwide hands-on espresso training experience, designed to energize partners and transform the customer experience. Stores with evening hours will re-open at 8:30 p.m.

Our unprecedented level of commitment to and investment in our people will provide them with the tools and resources they need to exceed the expectations of our customers. We believe that this is a bold demonstration of our commitment to our core and a reaffirmation of our coffee leadership.”

Starbucks is focusing on putting its employees front and center in their effort to transform the customer experience.  This is wise, as Starbucks partners are the face of the company and help craft the Starbucks experience with each interaction.  As I mentioned in my last post, the Starbucks baristas are one of the most positive parts of the current Starbucks experience.  I applaud Starbucks for taking time to focus on them.

And I will be in my local Starbucks on February 27 to see what they thought about it!

Be sure to drop over to Jay’s blog and check out his opinions via a video post on acoustics at Starbucks.  In the same post, as part of his Power to the Small Business podcast series, Jay was also nice enough to record an interview with me, talking about customer experience, customer service, and of course, the Starbucks project.  Thanks, Jay!

(Photo credit: T Carroll)

10 Responses to “Re-Experiencing Starbucks: Transformation Starting”

  1. Great post, Becky. It will be interesting to see if Starbucks can get its groove back.

    ‘ve never had a problem with the service Starbucks provides and agree that the baristas are usually great.

    I think something structurally is going on with their business that is holding their stock price back (which is a big reason that the company brought Howard Shultz back).

    Could it be that
    -their coffee has become too expensive for “the masses?”
    -the Starbucks experience isn’t ‘special’ anymore?
    -Dunkin Donuts and McDonald’s are stealing business?

  2. Starbucks is clearly going ‘back to basics’ with coffee being the focus and main concern. Howard Shultz is beginning the long road of recovery for his company.

  3. phildarb said

    The Starbucks story is a classic in that they were successful originally because they were different and have tended since(although not as much as some) to focus on perpetuating what made them different at the time rather than renewing and re-inventing so that they remain different in the context of the many “me-toos” now on the scene.

    As someone on the ground in Europe I have to say that Starbucks are losing their shine compared to cometitors like Costa, Pret, Coffee Heaven, Republic etc. Too many Starbucks are very shabby and badly maintained. They could improve their position a little just by cleaning up a few of their places.

    The Wi-Fi in the UK is a nightmare. After Central Europe where Wi-Fi is free everywhere its very annoying to find that to get on-line in Starbucks in the UK you have to pay AND download T-mobile’s software (which screwed up my computer settings). Not a good experience!

    As for training – I’m not sure they are any better than their competitors here.

  4. […] an announcement by Starbucks of a couple of new initiatives. You can read Becky’s post here, but the bottom line is that Starbucks is going to be doing two […]

  5. […] Paul Schwartz   This “Starbucks” project is now in full swing with some new posts by Becky Carroll, Jay Ehret, Doug Meacham , and Maria Palma. We are starting to learn more about the changes that […]

  6. […] Re-Experiencing Starbucks: Transformation Starting […]

  7. Ryan said

    My experience at starbucks has always been nice. Except this one time, and it wasn’t because of the customer service. In fact, the girl who served me did an excellent job. My complaint was how SHE was being treated in front of me. The manager was having a hissy fit because he wasn’t keeping up on bar. There was milks cartons be thrown, he was rude and disrespectful to her when it was obvious she was trying to help. I understand that people get stressed out, but the manager chose to be in that kind of position and should be able to handle that kind of stress. I felt so bad for the little girl. I told her that she should demand some respect and her reply sadly enough was just a smile and “have a great day.” That just made me think, starbucks has always been on top for great customer service, but I never thought I’d wonder how they treat their own employees.

  8. […] Listen closely, and don’t forget to check out Becky Carroll’s suggestion today at Customers Rock! (Feed Readers: If you can’t see the video window, click here: reExperience Starbucks […]

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