Starbucks Triggers Customer Service Drama

Ignore your customers when making a business decision, and they’ll let you know it. Take the example of café chain Starbucks, which recently announced discontinuing free soy milk and syrups for loyal customers. Customers weren’t happy and responded. Your customers are probably the same. Customer service is an important thing, and if you forget about it, even for the benefit of your bottom line, you may find other unfortunate results. Here’s more on the story and what other business bloggers have to say about the importance of listening to customers.

Where Starbucks Went Wrong

They giveth and they taketh away. Free soy milk and syrups that is. These usually cost 50 cents extra, but have been offered free to customers as a reward for making at least five purchases on a registered Starbucks card or mobile app…until now. Of course, the company says they are now tweaking another part of the rewards program by offering its gold-level members, those who make at least 30 purchases over the year, a free drink or food item with every 12 purchases from the cafe chain instead of after every 15 purchases, as before. Wired

Here’s the announcement from Starbucks. Customers were not impressed. One possible reason is that the cafe chain tried to spin the news into something positive, even though company representatives should have known it would be unpopular with customers. After all, the “rewards” they were adding to the program (a free drink or food item) were less popular than what they were taking away. Some customers make the choice of soy for health or other reasons, so it is more than a preference. You can see some of the customer comments below. Starbucks Blog

From your customer’s point of view. Small business marketing consultant Steve Miller insists Starbucks’ biggest mistake was not trying to see things from their customers’ point of view. In other words, Miller says Starbucks just called up their marketers and had them create an announcement that tried to make their unpopular decision, probably made purely for business reasons, sound like something good. Had they taken a moment to see things from their customers’ point of view, they would have known better. Two Hat Marketing

Small Biz Customer Service Ideas

Meeting your customers’ expectations. Consistency is critical in every business. Customers must get the service they have come to expect, or they may not remain customers. This is most important when the customer relationship moves from the offline to the online world, says business owner and blogger Joanna Ellis. Creating the same great customer experience online as in your offline experiences translates into better conversion rates and more revenue. Property Management Insider

When things go bad. Customers who do become perturbed have never had more tools at their disposal to express their anger at your company or brand. One of the most popular places to do this online is Yelp. When you read a bad review of your business there, the first instinct is to strike back. Keep calm, says Rieva Lesonsky. Take some time to figure out what went wrong with this particular customer and the try to reach out and make things right. Grow Smart Biz

Awesomeness is as awesomeness does. The key to being awesome at customer service is not just shining on your good days. Customers should be able to count on the fact that even on your business’s worst days, you will meet or exceed expectations. Belinda Weaver, blogger at Copywrite Matters, argues that a business owner must desire to make good customer service decisions, even when things go wrong. In fact, she says, business owners should treat these problems as opportunities to do the right thing. Copywrite Matters

Making them drool. Blogger Sharyn Sheldon says there is a way businesses can go beyond merely satisfying their customers on a regular basis, to a point where, as she so colorfully puts it, competitors will be drooling with envy. That’s because Sheldon thinks she has the answer for the kind of customer service every business owner dreams of, one where you not only meet customer expectations, but gather input to improve from their suggestions. Byte-Size Learning

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