Starbucks, I am Upset With You
Starbucks has lost their way with customer service.
Well, they have lost their way with more then just this. But we all know this. If you know me, you know that I have always been a raving fan of Starbucks. I am not even a coffee lover, per say, but have always loved the brand. And I do most of my work from coffee shops, so Starbucks has been good to me. In fact, not only did my partner Ken and I meet in a Starbucks, we also started our company out of one. Our first, official office was in Kerrisdale on the West Side in Vancouver. That is where we launched Nurse Next Door.
But I have really noticed a trend, and it seems to keep getting worse. They don’t know WHO to hire anymore. Years ago, Starbucks had culture right. You walked into a store, and their people were great. They remembered your name, your drink, and they were really pleasant people. They were also really happy to serve you coffee, with a smile, and perhaps some banter if they got to know you. You could boil it down to this: they hired right, and then had some good systems in place to make it a great customer experience. But that has seemed to stop. They no longer hire right. You can tell just by who serves you.
I was served the other day by a young man who refused to look at me, and in fact, when I walked up to the counter, he didn’t even say anything to me. He waited until I placed my order. During the entire interaction he mumbled one word “thanks.” And this is not an isolated incident. But what has really made this trend apparent, is something I have been waiting to happen for over 10 weeks now.
I had a baby girl, Aja, 10 weeks ago. I feed Aja every second night, so I am up a lot. And on my morning feeds, I walk Aja to the Starbucks that is 150 feet from my house at 5:30 am. I just wrap her up in a blanket, and carry her down the street, and have done this since she was 2 days old. I am always their first customer, and I have now been there 21 times during this period. Now, a guy holding a brand new baby in his arms usually gets quite a bit of attention. But in the 21 times I have walked into that Starbucks holding a really cute baby girl wrapped in pink pajamas, not once has anyone ever said anything personal to me, and NOTHING about my new baby girl. Not once! And I have only been served by women. Which is weird. Perhaps they are not baby lovers. But should that matter? I mean, the General Manager of the store is their every 3rd time I walk in, and she has never said more then “What would you like” to me. It bugs me. It is the most un personalized service I have ever received. And I spend a lot of time here (it is a place where I do a lot of work) so it isn’t like they don’t know me. Although they sure act like they don’t.
Every time I walk in with Aja, I wait for someone to say something. But it never comes. Perhaps I am perseverating over a little thing. But I am a fanatical service person, and things like this just bug me. And I expect a lot more from Starbucks.
When Howard Shultz came back to save Starbucks from ruin (their past CEO completely misunderstood the core purpose of the company and lead them down a path to lost identity ), I predicted that Starbucks would once again find its way. I now see deeper issues and wonder if they have the guts to really solve them.
Starbucks, I am upset with you.