Any organization that becomes sufficiently large such as McDonald's, Microsoft and now even Apple will have the soulless corporate persona automatically associated with them. Thus is the image that Starbucks must confront. In addition, Starbucks is viewed as the overpriced yuppie coffee shop that clueless young urban professionals frequent for whatever vain reason it appeals to them.
I love Starbucks, but it's not for the atmosphere that the design creates and it's certainly not for the standard French roast coffee that they serve because I actually dislike that particular beverage. I will venture to a Starbucks over a Timothy's, Second Cup or a lesser known haunt when it comes to a fancy latte or mocha because of one thing. Service.
Yesterday afternoon I dropped into the local Starbucks and ordered my usual weekend Grande Mocha with Whip. The store was quiet and I was the only one in the queue. The service was upbeat and with a smile as usual and the order was promptly shouted to the barista standing by. I moved to the pickup counter to wait for my beverage and noticed that the barista had left her station and was tending to other duties.
Apparently the barista on duty had not heard my order placed and thus the empty cup with my order on it went unnoticed. I waited for about two minutes before the server noticed me and asked if they could help me. Upon realizing that my order had gone unfulfilled for two minutes the server, without batting an eye, apologized and immediately presented me with a free beverage coupon before promptly filling out my awaiting order.
That one small gesture is the perfect example of why I come back. I'm pretty easy going. People forget things and stuff falls through the cracks sometimes so I don't sweat it so I wouldn't have protested or thought about needing to be compensated. But Starbucks excels at customer service. They know that since I'm paying upwards of $3 a coffee at regular intervals it makes sense to rectify their mistakes immediately and properly.
Consistently good service is the reason I will now pass by a Timothy's or a Second Cup when looking for a fancy coffee and a spot to get online.
I shall endeavour to remember my Starbucks experiences during future client interactions and engagements.