The Starbucks Customer FEEDBACK Experience

starbucks_header.jpg  This “Starbucks” project is now in full swing with some new posts by Becky Carroll, Jay Ehret, Doug Meacham Maria Palma, and Meikah Delid. We are starting to learn more about the changes that Howard Schultz is going to make to get Starbucks and their customer experience back on track.  So I took it upon myself as a customer feedback “specialist” to evaluate the experience of filling out one of the customer comment cards at my local Starbucks.

I filled out the card (pictures below) and said I would love to hear more about these changes that Howard Schultz is talking about and what it means to me as a customer.

                                          starbucks_form_outside.jpg     starbucks_form_inside.jpg

Here are my thoughts on the card and the process as a whole:

  • The card is well designed with plenty of space to share my thoughts.
  • The card asks you to seal it shut and mail it back to Starbucks Corporate.  Some problems as I see it:
    • Sealing it shut and having me mail it back means I have to find a mailbox.   The guy at the counter did offer to mail it in for me – so kudos to him, but what if I hadn’t asked him about what to do with the card.
    • Mailing it in prevents the store manager from seeing my comments the same day.  It would be better to have a nice box (coffee bean container perhaps) in the store where I could drop the card off.  The store manager can look at the cards daily, contact customers directly if it makes sense, and then send cards to corporate for recording or additional contact.  Sometimes it’s best for customers to talk directly with the store manager instead of a corporate spokesperson. 
    • Mailing it in also means I have to wait for a reply.  I got my call back about a week later, and if there is a problem, that is too long to wait to hear back.  The card does say “Our partners (empolyees) are here to help.  If for any reason you are not satisfied, please let them know.”  This is intended to get the customer to talk to the employees right away if there is a problem.  Some customers just don’t want to mention problems directly or in-person.  Allowing customers to drop off the card at the store gives the store manager the chance to contact the customer and resolve the issue within a day or two.  The likelihood of gaining a loyal customer, one who will endure occasional bad experiences, is increased as the customer builds a relationship with the store employees instead a corporate spokesperson.
  • Kudos to the staff at the store.  It just so happens that the store manager was there but not on the clock.  The guy at the register who I talked to said if you want to talk to the manger there she is – I approached her and she was very professional and took the time to chat even though she was’t really working.
  • The corporate customer relations person that called me back a week later was excellent.  He was professional, knowledgable, and appreciative of my interest.  He shared with me all the publicly released info about the upcoming changes:
    • Organizational realignment – press release
    • Free wi-fi for 2 hours per day
    • No more breakfast sandwiches – heating them produced an unwelcoming arome of cheese, etc that customers didn’t appreciate with their coffee.
    • The in-store all partner training event on February 26 – press release
    • The release of the five key strategic customer-facing initiatves at the March 19th Annual Meeting.

Stay tuned for more.  If nothing else, I’m a lot more productive with all this in-store coffee research I’m doing …

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31 Responses

  1. [...] Paul Schwartz from CustomerU: “What is the Starbucks Experience?”  and “The Starbucks Customer FEEDBACK Experience” [...]

  2. [...] Paul Schwartz: “What is the Starbucks Experience?” and “The Starbucks Customer FEEDBACK Experience” [...]

  3. I applaud Starbucks for getting rid of the sandwiches. It was unfocused to the brand image and made Starbucks more like a McDonald’s. It seemed like the baristas were told to try to sell the sandwiches because they would ask me everyday if I want a sandwich and it started to get annoying.

  4. I agree lexicon – selling sandwiches doesn’t fit the brand, or go with coffee very well. They were out of place for Starbucks. Baristas were probably told to push the sandwiches because they were not selling well. The pastries that do go with coffee seem to enhance the experience – and they smell good too!

  5. Please bring back the old plain chocolate brownies! The new ones are more typical, and not as savory or chocolatey or divine! I miss the old ones.

  6. Your Starbucks employees are indeed changing. Too many tattoos on their necks and arms and too many facial piercings. (ick) Mabe this is why so much of the attitude. BUT!!!! on a side note:
    love the way you are contributing to the economy by trying to reduce unneeded costs, and helping the planet by recycling!!! Now that’s the right attitude……
    LOVE YOUR PLANET. RECYCLE>

  7. Pls permit this imposition:in the fbi’s campaign to silence me, the thugs enter Starbucks, show a fraudulently obtained court order, and induce your employees to ‘medicate’ my coffee (usually a grand, non-fat, no foam latte); the latest incident occurred at about 9:30 AM, 8-8-09,at Starbucks on the 1500 block of Ed Carey Dr ( South Loop 499 ), Harlingen, Texas. The employee who apparently spiked my coffee was female, 20 ish, and expressed mild fear as she insisted that she both prepare the drink and deliver same to me at the drive through.
    The fbi later set off the beep-alarm to notify me that I was poisoned. The drug used against me is probably medroxyprogesteroneacetate. Some of your employees know me, have studied my website (regarding fbi/cia crimes, including false imprisonment, forced suicide, murder and calumny) and have confirmed to me in private that Starbucks honors the court order against me.
    On some visits, however, the Starbucks employee allows me to watch the preparation of the coffee, so that that employee can honestly report to the fbi operative that no medication could be secretly planted because I was inspecting every step.
    Please advise you employees in Harlingen, Texas, that I should be permitted where possible to inspect the making of the latte, so that Starbucks stops poisoning me. Thank you kindly.geral w. sosbee

  8. Actually I love some of Starbucks sandwiches. It goes well with my Iced Latte. The pastries are okay, except they make too many kind which if you notice has similar after taste. I don’t know, maybe a distinct taste? But what the heck? I love starbucks and the branch I visit everyday has lovely employees which never fails to make my perfect coffee :)

  9. I applied for my free birthday beverage on October 11th. My birthday was November 5th and I have not received anything to allow me to get my free beverage. I am a longtime and steady customer of Starbucks but right now I am disappointed in your company for not following through with the birthday offer.
    Please respond…

  10. see above

  11. Hi Rick,

    This is not an official Starbucks blog. You can contact them directly through a variety of ways by visiting this web page from their official corporate site http://www.starbucks.com/customer/contact.asp I hope you get your birthday offer!

  12. Too cold in stores very uncomfortable. music always blaring. sublety needed badly

  13. i recently observe several of your employees at the paramount, ca store on alondra and lakewood, the store has a very heavy set young lady and her two female friends have been stealing items from customers ie phone, dvds, bags and other items during when a person goes to the bathroom or starts to order something at the counter, also a young man about 21 to 27 yrs old having sex with the other female employees in the cleaning and washing area. this also a facts that maybe they are under the influence of drugs ..does your company do drug screening of meth amd exstacy…

  14. Dominic At Starbucks in Safeway is always curteous,friendly, and makes the drinks just right.

  15. Mary is always happy and bubbbly. It was a great Chai tea drink.

  16. I prefer going into a grocery store for my Starbucks.
    The baristas recognize you and are friendlier.

  17. I prefer going into a grocery store for my Starbucks.
    The atmosphere is always friendly and the baristas are more focused, not alot of background noise.

  18. I am at the Starbucks in St Augustine FL, and the conduct of the employees here is particularly outstanding. I really appreciate the professionalism and hard work.
    – Thanks

  19. I eat my lunch at Starbucks #5940 located in Sacramento in the Meadowview road shopping center almost 5 days a week and I love the food and relax atmosphere there. However today while I was enjoying my food, the associate, Helly, could not stop whining about her awful experience with her nephew. I go to Starbuck to relax from the wk and I sat and listen to a half an hour of the whining. I understand the associate had a bad experience but she needs to contain it to a quiet conversation so that not all the whole place can here it. She was talking so loud it drowned out the music! I will still continue to go back due to connivence but that associate needs to learn to keep her personal matters out of work.

  20. I am a barista at a Starbucks in Colorado. I am currently trying to develop to become a shift supervisor and then work my way up from there. It is very benifical when we can see what people dislike about our customer service. We are able to change and create a more suitable environment for all of our customers. Even just telling us that we are doing a great job will make us try even harder to make Starbucks a home away from home. Feel free to talk to me about tips to help us become a great environment. DevelopingBarista@yahoo.com

  21. why the eff do you all care so much about your “experience” at starbucks? Sounds like your all spending way too much time in there. I get my coffee, be it Dunkins, Marylou’s, Starbucks, whatever I feel like, then I get on with my day. Newsflash! Customer feedback means shit to the staff and even corporate. They don’t care!

  22. My comment is more of a suggestion or idea. I live in a great town called Mt Clements in Muchigan and we don’t have a Starbucks there… Infact we would have to drive a few miles to get to one. I love the fact that most Starbucks are located in cool downtowns, shopping areas, etc. I am a young business owner and love getting my Starbucks! I love the area and the downtown is a busy place. The Macomb county court house and a few other county buildings are located here. With all the business professionals, locals, and visitors really makes Mt Clements a great location. I feel that Starbucks will do very well here! I hope to here something back and possible have a location in Mt Clemens Michigan!

  23. Just wanted to comment on the Starbucks in Clearwater,Fl. on Gulf to Bay Blvd. The staff is kind, efficient, and offer positive comments on new products. Outstanding job i know where i will continue to go for my coffee breaks.
    Vince
    MCM Industries Inc

  24. I travel a lot and there’s one very inconsistent thing I noticed. When I ask for a dry cappuccino, I find 40% of the locations still make it like a latte. For example, I’m I’m Paris on business right now and popped into the Starbucks in the carousel de louvre. After making the drink twice, it was as heavy as a latte and the guy said that it was the lightest it can be made and I watched him pour the foam in and when I said, no, you must use a spoon otherwise too much milk comes in, he said we don’t do it like that. Final. I through out the latte, and left.
    They need to be trained

  25. I need to thank you for providing a second place for me throughout Europe. I have long been a Starbucks fan although not a big coffee I love the muffins and iced frappachinos.

    I turned 59 in April when I left for a eight week trek throughout Europe, starting with a transatlantic cruise from Florida to Portugal followed by rail travel to seven other countries.

    I visited Starbucks in a dozen cities including Barcelona, Paris, Edinburgh, and Berlin. The American feeling, free Internet and safe atmosphere were wonderful. In the Starbucks in Paris the manager even warned me to watch my iPad and iPhone more carefully.

    Thanks for being my home away from home.

  26. Really dislike the new pastries, they are dry and tasteless, because they need to be warmed, the drive in line is always backed up.

  27. I recently was at a Starbucks that already serves Teavanna. The English Breakfast tea was vile.

  28. I go to Starbucks for BOLD coffee–coffees/flavors that I just don’t find in my other local coffee choices. I can get wimpy, weak, flavorless coffee anywhere; I never drink medium roast or “blond” coffee at Starbucks. Per your own web pages, bold coffees are the drinks on which Starbucks built their reputation.

    However, I see that this week none of my local Starbucks are offering a bold coffee choice–other than a pour-over, which never seems to be quite the same. Some baristas told me that this was going to be an ongoing situation–that I won’t always have a bold, brewed coffee option.

    I can get “weak” coffee anywhere; I go to Starbucks for hard-hitting, robust coffee flavor. I’ve been a loyal Starbucks customer for decades (no exaggeration), and I’ve had a Starbucks Gold Card since 2008. However, I’m going to start looking elsewhere for my morning cup of coffee.

    This is, in my humble opinion, a really stupid move, Starbucks.

  29. […] for others: – (2/22) Paul Schwartz of Customer U filled out a comment card and reports on his Starbucks Customer Feedback Exerience. – Skip Lineberg from Marketing Genius says Starbucks is his favorite brand and blogs about it […]

  30. Joshua D. at Starbucks on VONS in Sepulveda and National in West Los Angeles is always courteous,friendly, and makes my drinks just right. He is always happy and bubbbly. I prefer going into a grocery store at VONS for my Starbucks. The baristas especially Joshua D. recognize you and they are friendlier. Outstanding job i know where i will continue to go for my coffee breaks.

  31. I’m currently sitting in Starbucks on High St Kensington, London. How disappointing, tourists in visiting the UK seeking their favorite brand of Coffee will be saddened by what greets them.
    I understand the starbuck production line and after a while all customers get used to it.
    This shouldn’t mean the staff have to be completely void of personality. Why on my last visit to the Butter Market Store in Ipswich the staff exceeded their job description to ensure my morning coffee came to me perfectly prepared and back up with a smile from what appeared to be highly motivated happy staff. The chap in the HSK, London store managed to pay attention to half my order so a Grande Latte was ordered. When he turned his attention back to me and was somewhat surprised by my lack of progress along the line I quickly took the opportunity to request a vanilla syrup. My Name was sort and scribbled on the plastic cup. Strange considering I intended to enjoy the ambience of a Starbucks flagship shop in the very heart of good old London town. A rather pretty lady had her chance to shine as I offered up a light conversation. Her English was exceptional so no excuse there, she took my money and hurriedly ushered me along the line. Finally I received my coffee in a cute disposable plastic cup. Then as I prepared the last part, sugar a touch more milk I noticed my surroundings, “shabby chic” “rustic” a wonderful look…. However, at just after 09:00 the place shouldn’t be dirty. Really dirty, the floors, the tables. The prep area behind the counter, the walls, everywhere I looked in fact resembled the night after heavy party. Given a quick once over but no actual cleaning to rid the scene of small solids and liquid residues. I immediately forgot about my coffee and started composing my complaint. I’ve sat here for 45 minutes and watched the goings on. It’s not a one off it seems to be the norm with the staff how are focussed on the production line. The place is not even that busy. One round of clearing has been observed and although the lady brandished a dry cloth, it was never used.
    She did scoop the large items off of a few tables into an oversized washing-up bowl but that was it. Not all bad though, after sitting here for fifty minutes, I finally heard a staff member ask a customer if everything was alright. An isolated incident but a plus point….
    Finally noticed my syrup if caramel not vanilla, shame on you HSK, London Starbucks

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