The Starbucks Experience: Customer Service Success in a New Digital Age


The first hour and a half of my day advances like clockwork. After the initial snooze battle with my alarm clock, I concede defeat and get ready to head to work. I join the busy queue of coffee enthusiasts looking to inject life into their day with that first cup of coffee. Standing at the back of the queue, I make eye contact with the barista. She smiles and gives me that knowing look. I smile and nod back to confirm my order. I get to the front of the line and exchange the morning pleasantries while I swipe my phone across the scanner to make my digital payment. The barista continues our running joke from last month and asks who I want to be today. I say I feel like Aquaman today. We laugh as she begins to scribble on my cup.




A couple of times a year, I question why the Starbucks trip is a fundamental part of my morning ritual. The coffees aren’t cheap. I’m not a coffee aficionado either. I certainly can’t tell the difference between Arabica coffee from the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica or the stuff that comes from the Nestle Gold jar. So what is it that keeps me going back to Starbucks?


The Human Factor: Many brands talk about the “human factor” but few make the attempt to create that personal connection with customers. The Starbucks commitment is apparent from their mission statement: “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time. It has always been, and will always be, about quality.” They do the little things like remembering your daily order, writing your name on the cup with a smiley or personalized note or offering you a free Birthday drink. The internet is littered with testimonials of stories of exemplary service. Gini Dietrich shares her fantastic Starbucks story at Spin Sucks.


Tech & Innovation: In 2009, Starbucks was faced with an incredible uphill battle when dismal results had driven the company’s stock value down by 50%. Shortly after, Starbucks hired Adam Brotman (now Chief Digital Officer) to lead their digital ventures. Adam’s first change was to offer free WIFI to all customers along with access to some premium publications, a service that no competitors were offering at the time. In Adam’s words, Starbucks wasn’t just offering a free service, they were doing something innovative to engage with their customer. Since then, Starbucks has moved from strength to strength and have been at the forefront of technology adoption and integration. The Starbucks mobile app for example, is now processing more than 3 million payments a week which equates to approx. 10% of  their $ intake. This also represents a reduction in wait times of about 10 seconds per customer. The app is easy to use and I save same. Win-win!

Social Media: Starbucks online campaigns are engaging and well thought out. Sometimes their posts are just random but amusing. Here is one of today’s tweets …


So why do I keep going back to Starbucks? It’s the complete experience. It’s the fusion of technology and service. It’s the little things…


Written from a Starbucks


3 thoughts on “The Starbucks Experience: Customer Service Success in a New Digital Age

  1. The little things that make the routine of work a little varied. It becomes a habit which is powerful, as humans we only have a limited capacity of will power to break bad habits. Why choose to break the Starbucks habit when it makes the journey into work a little bit more bearable.

  2. That is very true, it’s not about the coffee as much as it is about the environment. You walk in to a Starbucks and they have comfortable arm chairs, beautiful displays, good music playing, CD’s for sale and you feel more at home than you do in other “coffee shop” environments. You almost forget you’re in line because there are things to look at and keep you occupied and the magical barista “friends” who can read your mind and take the pressure of speaking before 9am off of you. Not having to carry on a long conversation before work…that’s worth it for me 🙂

  3. Very true from what I remember. Starbucks has just opened up in India where they advertised that the Indian Starbucks would have the best decor they’ve ever put up. Loved it ! Especially for the fact that they’re food tastes fresh compared to the rest of the cafés.

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