On February 26th, Starbucks closed each of its more than 7,000 stores for 3.5 hours to provide Expresso Excellence training for 135,000 employees. As a culture advocate, I was pretty impressed with the effort after I roughly calculated the cost in lost sales to be near 1.9 million dollars. Though at the same time it seemed like a pretty steep price to teach someone how to press a button.
Starbucks spends less than 1/10th of 1% on advertising- its nearest competitor based on market share in the fast food restaurant category spends 231 million. The story was picked up by every major outlet thanks to a media alert they sent out-- a media alert and got almost 1,500 people to Digg it.
Thankfully, since caffeine-deprived brains might fail us at any time, Starbucks even included some tips on what we could do during the closing hours:
“12,600 Seconds in Time” – 5 GREAT THINGS TO DO IN JUST 3 ½ HOURS
1. Thinking of a change in hair color? A full color with highlights takes just about 3 hours.
2. Watch almost all of the nominated short films.
3. When was the last time you made a home cooked meal? You can roast an 8lb -12lb turkey in 3 ½ hours.
4. What better time to organize those closets, it’s a jump start on spring cleaning.
5. After patiently waiting 12,601 seconds, head to Starbucks to get that espresso!
Was it a PR stunt? They reemerged with a new take on "the customer is always right" policy posted about their stores; it reads: "Your drink should be perfect, every time. If not, let us know and we'll make it right." Even if the answer was yes, good for them.
And, good for Dunkin Donuts who had their own idea- they dropped the price of their lattes and cappuccinos to a mere 99 cents during their competitor's closure and saw a 10% spike in sales.
Did it work? A few blog comments I swiped from cyberspace:
A visit to a Starbucks in Mt. Kisco, New York indicates that no one was paying attention during the training day. The store was dirty. A cigarette butt at one door. A snow shovel against the new coffee makers on sale. Floors that had not been swept recently. The service area for getting milk and napkins in disarray.
Perhaps Starbucks workers should be paid based on the stock price. That might get their attention.
Douglas A. McIntyre
In response to whether or not the Starbucks training night this spring was a success, I belive that the answer was yes. My tall, decaf, non-fat lattes have never tasted so good! I have sampled them at a variety of locations throughout my city and they were all much improved over the ones I purchased pre-training. More importantly, I have seen a notable increase in personalized service at my neighborhood Starbucks. Again, my take from the frontlines was that it was a success!
Posted by: J. Lockwood
It seems the goal of the training was to boost sales. The means to do this was to make a better cup of coffee and provide superior customer service. But is customer service training the way to boost sales? Yes, you are treating the customers you already have, the regulars, better. But how is this training going to attract the new customers that Starbucks needs to grow their business? Without a marketing plan for the training to support, we may never see how successful this training was for Starbucks.
Posted by: Jennifer Miller | Thursday, 24 April 2008 at 07:35 PM
What do you think?