Saturday, September 6, 2008

Oh cruel Starbucks! Why do you mock me so?

I read an article in INC magazine online today about Starbucks, authored by one of my favorite bloggers Joel Spolsky and was inspired to write an entry wherein I do my usual thing; offering free advice to those who did not ask for it and certainly won't take it.

Many people already know what is wrong with Starbucks, what I am going to do is identify 3 ways to fix it.

1) Well Designed Kiosk Systems - I've been harping on this one forever! Some people say that Kiosks would impact the illusory atmosphere of a little coffee house escape that Starbucks has so carefully crafted, and I'm not sure that they are wrong. What I sure of however, is that the daunting rush hour lines crush that illusion in a way no well-designed kiosk could ever deign to. Picture walking into a Starbucks (even during rush-hour) and passing a little fob (which knows who you are, what your favorite drink is and your preferred form of payment - including credit card, just like amazon) over the kiosk. The kiosk presents your typical order (which is transmitted to the barista), along with an upsell pitch (offering a free biscotti if you buy a travel mug) in a way that does not require you to take ANY extra steps at all (much like a banner ad on a web site) if you chose not to touch it (of course the kiosks are touch screens) and also presents you with any other recent orders you have made (like when you came in with your insanely hot girlfriend and ordered her favorite drink too). You touch your choice, the order is submitted to the barista, your card is charged, you read the paper until a barista calls out: "Herman! Your grande non-fat ice latte is ready!". At which point you enjoy your drink.

Get it?
  1. Walk in
  2. Flash an RFID embedded fob
  3. One touch for a typical order
  4. Read the paper / check email on your phone / chat up your girlfriend
  5. Drink your expensive coffee beverage
You can't tell me that is not a remarkable experience.... well you could, but I would think you were lying, joking or not too bright.

2) iBucks iPhone App - Picture an app on your iphone that knew all the starbucks locations, your calendar and your location too(if you allowed it to). You could:
  1. tell it to have your favorite drink ready in 5 min for when you walk in (of course the charge is handled in the same way as it is described above)
  2. have it offer you text-alerts 20 -30 min before certain meetings with discounts on your favorite drinks
  3. invite your other iBucks enabled pals to join you
3) Solve the actual problem at the root - Create a position and hire a "Chief Experience Officer" whose job it was to continually infuse and reinvigorate every location, every system and every employee with the essence of the Starbucks brand promise - A truly great coffee drinking experience.

Oh yeah, almost forgot... If Starbucks already has a CXO. Fire him/her and hire a new one who will actually do their job well.

Starbucks rush-hour experience - Garbage

4 comments:

Kari said...

Love the kiosk idea! Why hasnt anyone thought of this already? Maybe you are just a genius! LOL!

furiousBall said...

or... wow, this would be fun. give customers a super soaker water gun filed with piping hot coffee and then fight it out or shoot a barista or two

beer posse

Grant Cook said...

We've invented here in New England a way to avoid the rush of Starbucks TOTALLY! Its called "Dunkin' Donuts"...

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