Customers Rock!

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

The Coffee Experience: Free Coffee at Starbucks

Posted by Becky Carroll on April 8, 2008

 Hat tip to Jay Ehret for this one.  If you have been reading Customers Rock! for awhile, you know that Jay and I are jointly working on a project to see if Starbucks is able to re-invent their customer experience.  (You can go to the Categories list in my sidebar to see all posts on this.)  One of the key areas is, well, the coffee itself.  People have said that Starbucks doesn’t even smell like coffee anymore when you walk in.

Today, Starbucks is hoping to raise their image to change that.  They are introducing their new Pike’s Place Roast, and as part of the introduction, they are giving away free Short (8 oz.) cups today, April 8, at US-based Starbucks cafes.  This is coffee made with their new process, fresh ground beans, brewed at least every 30 minutes.  From their press release:

Customers Spoke.  Starbucks Listened.
The new Pike Place Roast™ was artfully created by Starbucks master blenders and roasters using input from customers and baristas to achieve a bold taste and smooth finish.  Nearly 1,000 customers spent almost 1,500 hours providing input on what’s important to them in a cup of coffee.

“It was an exciting opportunity to find the right roast that would produce the flavor customers told us they wanted in a daily coffee,” said Andrew Linnemann, Starbucks master coffee blender. “We heard our customers and we were determined to deliver the consistent high-quality cup that they expect every time they walk into one of our stores.”

According to some of the discussion at MyStarbucksIdea around offering a sample size of beverages, Starbucks will already give you a sample of a drink for free so you can see if you like it.  Plus, they are standing by their new mantra that a drink should be to your liking, or they will remake it for you, free.  So what is up with the “free” Pikes Place Roast today?

I agree with Jay on this one: they are most likely trying to build some Word of Mouth around their new blend, bringing attention to themselves and their re-focus on coffee.  Good for them for getting the word out.  Now let’s see if it works! 

Go check it out, and let us know what you think about this “celebration of Pikes Place Market”.  Is the customer experience enhanced with the aroma of fresh coffee?  Does it taste better?  While you are having your coffee, go online and learn more about Word of Mouth by joining Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba’s  Society for Word of Mouth (or SWOM).  I did, and it looks to be a great resource!

(Photo credit: muha04)


7 Responses to “The Coffee Experience: Free Coffee at Starbucks”

  1. Becky,

    Good for Starbucks. However… Handing out free 4 oz. cups of new varietals and blends used to be policy. Glad to see they are getting back to some of the old ways.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Lewis, with your Starbucks past experience! Yes, Starbucks will hand out samplers of anything you want to try, new blends or old. Indeed good to see them focusing on the customer’s point of view. It will be interesting to see if customer perception of their coffee changes over the next few months as a result of the new roast and process.

  3. Once upon a time a book came out of Starbucks leadership titled “It’s Not about the Coffee.” Guess what. It really is about the coffee and all of the other fundamentals of creating a great customer experience.

  4. Jack, thank you for bringing this up. The core elements of what a makes a brand/company special are critical to the customer experience. If they are lacking, the customers will feel it, and a poor experience will likely follow. Starbucks has to get it right when it comes to coffee; otherwise, anyone can play (including McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts!).

  5. Jack said

    Check out my comments in my SWOM blog. It’s important for independents to heed what Starbucks is doing, including buying out the maker of the Clover single-brew machine.


  6. Starbucks customer experience: not special, not really even local…

    I walked through my local Starbucks yesterday to see what they’d done with their recent renovations. Kind of hoping it might be a more suitable location for a business talk than it was before. Sadly, there are now fewer seats…

  7. […] The Coffee Experience: Free Coffee at Starbucks April 8, 2008 […]

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