Starbucks doesn't know my Coffee ...

We all know for decades how Starbucks is well known for their WOW customer experience. There are tons of books written on this topic and I have certainly read a few.


They have invented awesome concepts, business models and innovated their process to ensure their customers have a wonderful experience every time they visit their store and I would advocate this based on my personal experience outside India.


One such experience I noticed started a couple years ago, is for the staff to ask your name when you order and then they write it on the takeaway cups to call you when the coffee is ready. Though most times they get my spelling wrong in Germany, this is bringing the human connection to the humble coffee.


The Starbucks Rewards Program


This is the loyalty program of Starbucks and I have availed this in multiple countries. This goes the same traditional way most loyalty programs go; collect points, in this case stars and get rewarded as you spend more. It’s a pre-paid card (app in some countries) and you just flash the app or swipe the card every time you buy at a store. This am sure has been super successful for Starbucks in most countries, especially in the US and UK where most people carry their "Grande or Venti" to work every morning.


The Starbucks India Experience or lack of it ..


Starbucks being a favourite, I enrolled into the rewards program instantly in India and I registered the card online giving them a minimum set of information they required.

Then I presented my pre-loaded card to the barista and ordered my coffee. With the usual smile, that we are so used to at Starbucks, the lady swiped my card on a card machine that was connected to the billing terminal and took the necessary cash for my order from the card.


Here is where I was baffled with the lack of customer experience. The technology so far worked seamlessly but as soon as the payment was done, the lady asked me my name, for her to call once the coffee was ready. I was stunned with the lack of integration Starbucks has in India (have since experienced the same in Germany).


As part of the registration for the rewards program, my name was collected, but when the rewards card was swiped that data did not flash on their billing terminal.


This is so simple right ? But Starbucks haven’t integrated even this small piece of information. There seems to be no "small data" concepts, itself here.

How Starbucks can make my life easy ?


Now with the integration not done, there is no way that Starbucks is going capture my Tastes & Preferences.


My usual drink is a "Triple Grande Cappuccino" (Starbucks terminology that I have learnt buying the same drink multiple times), which is a Grande (Mid Sized) Cappuccino with an extra shot of Espresso).


If the integration was done, they could get my name instantaneously and my preference of coffee could be flashed on the terminal.


How easy would it be for me not to repeat myself all the time?

How cool would the experience be every time ?


How this would make the customer come back for even more ?


I think Starbucks have missed a trick or two here. For e.g. they can upsell their products instantly based on collecting what we order there. They can throw instant discounts to keep us coming back based on our patterns or they can recommend new products that would go well with the type of coffee we drink, so on so forth.


This article was first published on Linkedin by me on October 25 2016 and have been edited in this blog post.

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