Want great customer service, go to Starbucks

starbucksI’m a coffee snob. But I’m frugal. I buy a pound of Starbucks dark roasted coffee at the grocery store to brew at home; and when I’ve brewed a full pot, I’ll pour what my wife and I don’t drink into a container, which goes in the refrigerator.

As a treat, I’ll go to Starbucks drive-through and buy a Venti ice coffee with half ice. (Yes, I use the word “Venti.”) When time and the funds permit, I’ll frequent a Starbucks café. (Read Chief Influence Officer Brian Ahearn‘s post on 5 Reasons Why Starbucks is so Persuasive.)

Starbucks has not only won my loyalty for its excellent coffee; it’s won me over for its customer service, as well.

Customer service is such a priority to me that I’ve abandoned a famous hamburger joint up the street from us because it takes forever to get served. I’ve also traveled miles out of my way to give my money to another branch of a large retail store because I’ve been treated rudely by some teenager whose main concern is texting his girlfriend.

Customer service weighs so heavily on my mind that my kids get sick of hearing me say, “That was great customer service,” or the opposite, which is more the case than the former these days. My kids also get embarrassed when I ask for the store’s manager so I can commend an associate who did his/her job the way it should be done.

As much as I hate poor customer service (maybe we’ve come to expect it), I feel much stronger about superior customer service. And thus, I feel Starbucks “is all that” when it comes to customer service. Why? Let me reenact a greeting from a Starbucks associate at the drive-through I frequent when driving home from my mother’s-in-law house.

“Good evening. Welcome to Leominster’s Starbucks. How may I help you?” the young man wearing the headsets says.

At this point my wife and I look at each other and mouth, “Great customer service.”

“I’d like a Venti ice coffee with half the ice,” I reply. Less ice, more coffee.

“Venti ice coffee light on the ice. Will that be all?”

“Yes, thank you,” I say driving forward. My kids in the back seats drone, “Great customer service.”

“Thank you, my friend,” I hear as I’m approaching the bend. Now I think, here is a guy who really loves his job.

And here’s the kicker—Starbucks’ coffee associates always get my order correct, whether it’s at a café or drive through.

I think about customer service wherever I shop, but there aren’t many retailers that prompt me to ask a manager what contributes to their associates’ excellent customer service. I’ve spoken to a few Starbuck’s managers about why their  customer service is so great. Perhaps this is because great customer service isn’t all that prevalent; maybe not enough businesses are focusing on training their employees on this seemingly lost art.

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4 thoughts on “Want great customer service, go to Starbucks

  1. vlbrown

    ALso, I can order a “large Frappucino” or a “large single mocha” and they don;t argue. They ring up a venti, but they don;t argue. 🙂

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  2. vlbrown

    I had a great customer experience at Starbucks today. It started out as a potentially poor customer experience: A man ahead of me had a stack of cards for some event; he apparently wanted to place those cards at Starbucks. He was talking to the Barista, taking up her time. (He had purchased a bottle of juice so she wasn’t even making him a drink.) I was getting… annoyed.

    When he finally left, she made my drink and offered it to me along with an apology for the wait, and a card good for a free drink on my next visit.

    1. How to short-circuit customer annoyance: Apologize. Not the formulaic “sorry for any inconvenience we may have caused”, but a real apology.

    2. Starbucks as a corporation makes the apology more real by adding the “free drink”. Low dollar cost for them; very real dollar cost to me.

    3. Starbucks gives the Baristas the power to decide when to hand out those cards. They have the power to turn an annoyed customer back into a happy customer.

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    1. Things Career Related Post author

      I totally agree, Starbucks makes good on it’s apologizes. I’ve received more than one free drinks for inconveniences. No card for my next drink, a free drink on the spot. The servers are articulate, polite, and like I said, never get the order wrong. Thanks for the story, vlbrown.

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