Miriam Gomberg

Starbucks: gold standard or evil empire?

Ahh, the beginning of summer down by the Truckee river is fantastic. There are daily events such as concerts, art shows, river festivals and pro kayak races to see or take part in. Last weekend, my good friend and fellow siren, Cate Vail and I went to the river for a mermaid photo shoot.

trying out a new mermaid tail

Walking in a mermaid tail is difficult at best, so when Cate said she wanted to get coffee, I decided to wait behind where we were seated outside. So, like any good mermaid, Cate shimmied up to the nearest coffee house, Java Jungle, a locally owned staple of the Reno river walk.

I began wondering what happened to her when about 20 minutes later, she reappeared holding 2 iced coffees in her hands and a disheartening story to tell.

a mermaid’s tale (ha ha ha)

She started off waiting at the front counter (this is not the bad part, she expected to hang back a bit). There was one person ahead of her, so she patiently anticipated her turn at the counter. After listening to the barista and customer chat for well over five minutes, she realized this was not a customer but a social call. are you kidding me?

Another 5 then 10 minutes eeked by while Cate questioned if the two of them would ever stop yapping. At some point, she had enough and asked the barista to take her order as she would soon be late for an appointment.

The girl behind the counter and her friend gaped at Cate as if she had 3 heads. Now, granted she was wearing a mermaid tail, but she had money in her hand that she wanted to spend THERE! Was it really too much to ask for some service?

why go there at all when Starbucks is across the street?

I know people who choose not to frequent Starbucks for various reasons: too commercial, part of the machine, not personal, so-so quality(?) They are too hip to be seen at Starbucks in general.

I agree they are part of the machine, but sometimes that is a good thing. Starbucks has certainly figured out the customer service piece of the business. I know that the barista is fully trained in how to make a beverage to my specific taste. They are quick and friendly and above all consistent.

consistency is key

When I go to a coffeehouse, tail or not, I want to be serviced in an accurate and timely manner. If you are an entrepreneur you should be asking yourself why people will do business with you versus a mega giant like Starbucks? Are you offering a unique product or service? Is your customer service second to none? Last week, Java Jungle offered neither.

As a rule, I prefer doing business with locals. Growing up my parents had a gift shop where I was first introduced into the world of customer experience. Shopping at their store was a unique experience not only because of the merchandise carried, but the personal service received by all customers.

Although, I no longer own a small business, I realize the importance of supporting other entrepreneurs. Without our continued patronage, they might be swallowed up by the evil empire (kinda like the death star).

Here is the deal: give me a reason to come in and be converted into a repeat customer. Share your thoughts and stories about your service expectations,

This entry was published on June 11, 2012 at 5:59 pm. It’s filed under Customer Focus, Personal Brand and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Starbucks: gold standard or evil empire?

  1. I like to find Starbucks all over the world …

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