Case Study – Starbucks Customer Service

December 16, 2010
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Here is your Small Business Thursday Tip of the Week:

I have written before about the importance of providing excellent customer service and about the concept of fixing a mistake by over delivering.

Here’s a great example courtesy of my favorite coffee spot – Starbucks.

starbucks customer service

Imagine if you will… You pull off the road on a chilly day and pop into the road side Starbucks. You order your drink and hand over your 10% Starbucks gold card. They accept it but don’t give you the 10% discount that the card promises. This Starbucks doesn’t honor the discount because they are a franchise location and not a corporate-owned store. “Fine”, you say and ask for your money back… They’ve already started your Drink and refuse. Wow, this sucks if your Starbucks, right? Not if you over deliver on the apology. Check this out:

So the other day, NJ Transit trains all went kaboom, so I wound up driving to my meeting in Jersey City. En route, I stopped at the Joyce Kilmer rest stop on the NJ Turnpike, and hit the Starbucks inside. Knowing that I’m on the turnpike, I accepted my fate of paying nearly $6 for my beverage. At least I don’t do that often. But I digress.. The girls there happily accepted my sbux gold card (the card that gives you 10% off on each visit), deducting the cash from the card, but did not give me the 10% off. They explained that because they’re a licensed store, not corporate owned, they don’t have to honor the discount, and choose not to.

“No problem,” I said, “just refund my money and keep your drink then.” They refused, since they had already started making the drink. Somewhat put off, I put in a call to SBUX customer service line. My point was simple, they should require stores that don’t honor the discount to post a sign saying they don’t. That’s all. No yelling, screaming, irate stuff, or anything like that. Just a simple request that they let people know what they’re getting into in stores like that.

The CS rep, whose name unfortunately eludes me just now, decided that SBUX needed to “make me whole, and give me an experience nothing short of fantastic.” I figured that meant I’d get a free drink coupon or something like that in the mail. I didn’t really even feel like that was necessary. His offer, a $50 sbux card mailed to me, which I could transfer the balance from onto my gold card. Despite me trying to convince him that he really didn’t need to do that, he insisted.

I’m floored. My goal was to spend 5 minutes on the phone with them and make them understand the need to let customers know what to expect in non-corp stores like the ones on the NJTP. Instead, they pulled out all the stops and went way beyond what they needed to.

How can you address your mistakes or the perceived mistakes your customer might think you made? Over dilivering on the original promise can not only solve the problem at hand but will also help you gain additional loyalty!

If you have questions or suggestions or would just like to add to the conversation, please comment and share below.

Original Source: The Consumerist

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