engagement, fans / loyalty, Starbucks, strategy, youtube

@Starbucks – what if you defended your employee? #starbucksrant

A tweet from @JGoldsborough caught my eye:  a new video is hitting Youtube “The Starbucks Rant Song” by Starbucks employee, ex-employee, Chris Sizle.   

This isn’t the first rant that I’ve heard from a Starbucks employee [blog post ‘To all you silly, sad caffeine addicts”], which was posted on Starbucks’ Facebook page in 2009 and later removed likely by the employee as Facebook identifies first & last name.  

What if there is a real issue with the treatment of Starbucks employees.  It would have to go beyond ordering a fancy drink (that’s me) or having noisy kids (me again) but I was struck with how similar this rant was to the rant I noticed in June 2009.    Which left me thinking – is there possibly an issue with how Starbucks employees are treated at large?  Are they treated poorly?  (and as a person who has personally funded many a starbucks operation – I wondered in concern for my fellow barristas and if there is authenticity in the relationships I think I have).  


What is the best way to handle this video?  Firing the employee is the obvious and traditional response – maybe deserved since the rant is beyond ‘healthy dissatisfaction’.   But it also seems like shoving an issue under carpet.  What if Starbucks acknowledged the issue (if exist).  What if the response was to have an employee idea jam or appoint the disgrunted employee into fixing the situation.  What if this video was a conversation starter – that at 600K views and growing – it was beyond denying and worth discussing?

I also wondered how many brands could have an honest conversation with their customers about hardships to staff.   I say this suspecting many customers may not want to hear about it.. I don’t know.  I certainly would be open to hearing what employees think is the cause of purported rude customers.  Is it heavy repetition of drink orders?  Weak ties to local communities?  And has our greater social consciousness and willingness for authentic relationships readied the public for such a discussions with brands?

Beyond being a great singer.. I do wonder about Chris and if he is justified somehow in his rant.  I can say that I’m not yet sure what the appropriate response should be for today’s social brand.   I’ll watch this one for a bit.  Notable is that Chris’ rant is now available on itunes..

social networks, Starbucks, twitter

Mobile payment at Starbucks starting WEDNESDAY

Mobile payments have emerged!  Tonight Starbucks announces mobile payments will be available “nationwide”.  as announced through my preferred online news source – Mashable.

Starbucks is allowing a bar code scan from the phone – which is commonly using in the airline business to check in at the gate for flights.  Importantly this is not using NFC – near field communications (a technology I’m still learning about.)  I will be interested in seeing what levels of adoption Starbucks experiences and I would love to understand the costs at retail (new POS or technology in field) and what the payback / ROI would be.  Of course, this isn’t all about payback – its about innovation and testing a payment option that is most certainly coming down to retailers near you.

As a side note – I tweeted Starbucks about their announcement “pay with your phone nationwide”.  God loves Starbucks social media efforts but I often catch them tweeting like the world lives in America.   Facebook wall announcements used to be un-geo targetted, if that is a word, and I would get invitations to try ice cream at a Starbucks near me.  Anyhow – there is a real person at the end of the twitter stream – here are their comments (okay – mostly mine).

Note:  my still love you and others tweet.  I get apprehensive about suggesting monogamy with coffee retailers.  Truth is as a real coffee nut, I am anything but monogamous.   So I can really get into a deep conversation around coffee and various coffee shops.  Starbucks is the best espresso based coffee (read peppermint mocha) but the grind coffee isn’t up to local dark horse/red rocket like local coffee shops and the food isn’t quite there yet.  Tims, of course, is deserved of attention – fresh coffee, chili, plain donut, apple fritter (especially when they were knobby big) and chili – and that a box of timbits will make my kids do a lot.

Blogging, Facebook, retail 2.0, social networks, Starbucks

“To all you silly, sad caffeine addicts” –Starbucks employees pollute FB fan pages

Wow.  There is an incredible rant by Veronica, a current Starbucks employee, on the Facebook “Fan” discussion board. 

To all of you silly, sad caffeine addicts who line up like lemmings for your overpriced lattes every morning: there are some things you should know.

1. We are not your friends. We are usually not your neighbors. In most cases, we absolutely loathe you,

[Added note:  15 hrs after this post, Starbucks removed Veronica’s comments.  But added no comment as if it didn’t exist, Added note:  I don’t think Starbucks removed the comments now.  I think the comment author did as other employee rants still exist.  Which would mean the board is still unmoderated.]

The absolute worst faux pas in employee communications that I’ve ever seen.  One that will likely cost her, her job or more.   Its damaging to the brand, its talking to over 1MM loyal Starbucks fans from around the world and it was posted over 15 hours ago with no response so far. 

I’m a fan of Starbucks, and I’ve written a few posts now about the Facebook Starbucks fan pages [1st post 1MM fans, go wild] and [2nd post Still ignored] .    But even I have to admit the Starbucks facebook pages are poorly run.   It is an example of a corporate communications effort rushing out to use social media but not putting in place the right resources, strategy plan nor risk mitigation plans for engaging in the conversation. 

Starbucks is a great example of what not to do on Facebook – chiefly, ignoring and not moderating the discussion board which has gone absolutely WILD with complaining employees, to unaddressed loyal customer complaints, to passionate feedback about pike place roasts and via instant coffee. I’ve been searching and I’ve only seen one moderator commnent (on a via discussion I think).

Moreover, I find the event pages very North American focused when I find the fan base is quite international.   Facebook with its continued global growth will require business to communicate using a global voice.  I suspect we will see some cottage industries emerge as loyal fan and employee moderators from around the global will be needed to support the pages.

At the moment, I dont’ really know a lot of examples of well run Facebook business pages – certainly, I’ve seen a lot of tweets  asking for FB business examples.

Want a great website example that incorporates loyal fans?  Go to Moleskine and mymoleskine pages.  Absolutely fantastic and all on the Moleskine website.

Facebook, social networks

Still ignored: Starbucks FB discussion board

I’m finding this Facebook  “disappointed by Starbucks” discussion thread very interesting.  I wrote about this earlier – how with over 1MM facebook fans, Starbucks should consider some moderation of its discussion pages.  Hmm.. I would be interested in raising this issue up the chain. .

Its clear there is a lot of passion about Starbucks [great entry Dave Rice] [equally passionate Torgenson] and yet I don’t think the super brand loyalists amongst us can take the place of an official corporate responder.

Someone suggested to me that maybe Starbucks is purposely allowing its fan base to moderate this discussion but I think that’s a weak approach.  They seem to spend so much time on announcing the front page shyt…

What I like about Dave Rice’s thoughts – is that it was the same as my experience.  I had just joined and visited the discussion area and this was my first read.

Btw – Dave Rice – my upset was the price increase in kids’ drinks from $1 to $1.25 in Ontario only.  BC remains at $1.  I wrote a long letter to Starbucks about this – generally – charge whatever you want on my latte but don’t make money on my kid.

Importantly – the folks that complain in this thread are rather constructive.  I hear their passion and not a bunch of gripes.

And now … with my comments.. we are back up at the top of the discussion board once again!

Blogging, Innovation, social networks, web 2.0

1, 433, 939 starbucks fans but no corporate voice – go wild

Welcome to the Starbucks Facebook Fan discussion page – go wild. 

First of all – I’m fan of Starbucks.  I joined the “Starbucks Fan” facebook site because I should own shares for how much I’ve dropped in lattes, americanos and blueberry scones.   And whereas I do try to prefer the local yokal, small biz, organic fresh roaster ,  Starbucks’ free wi-fi two hours really seals my allegiance to the coffee king.   I love getting a free coffee coupon if my order is forgotten, and my daughters’ drawing is still taped to the back of my local Starbucks espresso maker. Its my office, my newspaper site, my cup of sanity with the kids.  

So join I did, added a wall post and watched it disappear after a refresh.  Hmm.. obviously there is protectionism on wall posts. 

Then I pursued the Starbucks discussion board and found “disappointed by Starbucks” – a discussion started by Florida’s John Parkes on February 9, 2009.   

There is a bit of John Parkes in all of us.  He loves Starbucks – wishes it was what it once was.  He posts and re-posts with the constructive, supportive criticism that can only come from a heavy user, loyal consumer.   Crap – he is just the kind of guy that oozes innovation.  His discussion posts are long – several paragraphs.  Over 33 people have commented and added their own voices.  He answers and reanswers  – all the while adding the kind of posts that qualitative researchers would die for.   Thru it all – I couldn’t see any corporate response.  None.   So I asked John if anyone from corporate ever answered his posts.  He admitted a few employees tried but as far as he can tell – no one from corporate office did.  It appears that the discussion board is completely unmoderated – at least in this thread.  So what is the point??

Interestingly – every time I added a comment to John, his “disappointed with Starbucks” discussion floated to the top of the discussions because the forum is organized by reply recency.  So that means his discussion has been at the top of the discussion list over 50 times.

John speculated that the Facebook fan site may not be ‘starbucks sponsored’ but with over 1MM fans,  join our Starbucks twitter feed, and corporate video section, it no longer matters who is sponsoring the site.  [added note – there is a community link from Starbucks.com straight to the facebook fan page – and so it appears that community participation is valued..].

Get in there Starbucks!  If you don’t have one already – get a coffee lover (both employee experienced and customer only experience) and create a country specific starbucks community chief [or advisory board].   Pick up groundswell and read up on Charlene Li’s pages (great section on Bob Lutz’ authenticity).  Hey – I know business is hard right now – store closures, the lay offs etc.  But it might be the best digital head count spend you make.   Your fans want you to.

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