Friday, October 10, 2008

Starbucks on the Decline

There I am - well at least my right arm - displaying the receipt I received from my last trip to Starbucks. The receipt, documenting the purchase of ONE Caffè Latte Grande, was measured and found to be 52 centimeters in length.

Starbucks spends a lot of time talking about how they are environmentally responsible but I really wonder when I get a 52 cm receipt. I keep finding new and better definitions or irony without even trying. I laughed when I realized that the lengthy receipt had an overly verbose invitation to fill out a web based customer satisfaction survey. If a tree falls in the forest...hey, how do you feel about us?

A week later I went to the Starbucks by my house (Northland and Northmount) and had a negative experience. I've had a few negative experiences there but I always thought the staff was good at trying hard to make things right when there was a problem. Not this time. The story was kind of messy and I stood there waiting for someone to take my order for a good 5-10 minutes. No one acknowledged me being there. One cashier was counting money and the store manager was sitting behind me coaching a new employee on the corporate virtues of creating a positive experience for the customer. There goes that irony alarm again. It was kind of like I was in a bad episode of the Office.

This was kind of irritating, but not the end of the world. Worse things happen in life I suppose. But i did decide to go to their website and fill out the survey. The survey was encoded with the number off the reciept so they would know the time and date and location to match to my responses.

I gave them a fairly low review on all the questions because they were specifically asking about this particular visit. I checked all the boxed about contacting me and gave them my email and phone numbers. That was 6 months ago. No response from them and I haven't been back to any Starbucks since.

I figure if I take time to give a business my feedback and encourage them to follow up with me on a negative experience, the very least they could do is thank me for the feedback. In most cases customers don't ever tell you whats wrong, they just never return and bad mouth you to their peers.

If this store's management is any indication, this could explain why Starbuck's stock prices have been trending downward for over a year now.

In the first few pages of the Starbuck's employee guide they emphasize their main goal of creating a positive experience for the customer. But they can't create a positive experience unless the employees buy into it and its a positive experience for them as well. This doesn't happen when a business is understaffed or the managers are obtuse.

Sometimes when you have an overly complicated business model and some ethereal ideas that are not clicking with the employees it might be better to go back to basic and simple ideas about customer service. Please recommend this post

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