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CRM Rears Its Head at Starbucks

April 09, 2008

Much more of this and we just might add Starbucks to the pantheon of CRM immortals: The company appears to be taking seriously its Web site asking customers to pitch changes the company should make to revive its struggling U.S. business, according to the Associated Press.
 
You'll have to forgive this jaded reporter, who thought it was simply a PR gimmick when introduced last month. Some of the ideas the AP reports: "Create a punch-card system with a free drink after so many purchases. Give people a free cup of birthday joe or discounts for using their own mugs. Let customers forgo long lines by ordering their usual with the swipe of a card when they walk in the door."
 
One of my favorite submitted ideas is establishing corporate accounts so employers can offer Starbucks as a perk. That and frequent flyer cards. I mean, why hasn't Starbucks offered one free drink after nine by now? Probably because they haven't had to yet.
 
"Most brands do not put out a welcome mat for feedback," Pete Blackshaw, executive vice president of strategic services for the market research firm Nielsen Online told the AP. "Generally feedback is viewed as a cost of doing business rather than an opportunity. Starbucks is saying this is an opportunity."
 
Part corporate blog, the AP says, "MyStarbucksIdea also has the feel of an online social network. Though users can't link up over e-mail or post profiles of themselves, the comments they post often read like friendly conversations -- with people complimenting one another on their ideas or elaborating when comments about their posts make them feel misunderstood."
 
The site is powered by Salesforce.com, which also handles a similar venture, IdeaStorm.com, for Dell (News - Alert), in far more dire straits as far as customer service goes.
The AP said other ideas which have "caught Starbucks' attention: offering coffee classes, giving drip coffee drinkers a quicker way to buy their fix, automating orders of customized drinks to speed up service and making seating more comfortable."
 
"The ultimate form of dignity to the consumer is to ask for their opinion," Blackshaw said.
 
Well, here's my humble idea: have an Express Line just for us drip coffee drinkers who don't want to wait behind a gaggle of seven high school girls all ordering different permutations of Triple Grande Zebra Caramel Mocha Espresso Half Caffuccinnos or whatever just to get a cup of coffee.
 

Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users. Today’s featured white paper is Best Practices for Deploying a Virtual Call Center: Tips, Techniques and Best Practices, brought to you by LiveOps (News - Alert).

 
David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

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