Last Wednesday Starbucks UK launched their new personable service across the UK. They enticed customers to their branches on the launch day by offering a free Starbucks Latte. The catch? You had to order it by providing them with your name.
I first became aware of the campaign via the Starbucks UK Twitter feed. Over the last couple of days a number of celebrities have appeared in pictures and videos; noticeably the comedian Jimmy Carr. A man I know who adores Starbucks coffee after having briefly spotted him enjoying one at the Edinburgh Fringe festival a few years ago. The latest video shows him working as a Barista for the day.
Although I missed the launch day I visited the Cheltenham Starbucks branch to see exactly what had changed. On ordering my Chai Tea Latte in Cheltenham I was immediately asked for my name. Simple. Even better, the lady serving offered a form of mothering service. Eloquently explaining where I should wait for my latte.
I’m sure if I had asked her for a massage she would have happily obliged. Of course to really test the service I should have aimed to have an argument – customers in Starbucks would now certainly always be right.
I can see the thrill of this new service. Ordering a coffee by name in Starbucks isn’t exactly unusual but the tone of voices by staff members is relaxing. Even though Cheltenham town was packed due to race week I still felt calmed by the atmosphere in Starbucks. Every staff member had a smile on their face and seemed genuinely satisfied with their jobs. However, as a Londoner, I can see a flaw.
If such attention to detail is provided to be polite, calm and friendly by the staff then does this slow the service down? To try this theory I will order a Starbucks coffee in London before the end of this month to see if this personable service performs exactly the same across the UK. London is stressful; will the Starbucks staff be able to offer the same service as in Cheltenham?
The most surreal experience about the new service was leaving Starbucks as a member of staff gave me a genuine smile and wished me goodbye. Now that was nice. I’m not just a consumer of their product but a loyal customer.
The reason I felt it necessary to mention the new Starbucks UK personable approach on this blog? It is all public relations. Starbucks have taught all of their staff the art of being conversationalists. They have recognised that those who purchase coffee want an escape from shopping, travelling or wish to work in a peaceful atmosphere. I feel this approach is in direct contrast to visiting Costa Coffee whose coffee is as strong as the sense of urgency.
Over time Starbucks’ image may adjust to being a coffee place where one is treated as a human, a loyal customer, even a local customer, who has chosen Starbucks not just for their coffee but also their service.