Long time readers know I’m a big fan of customer service. There are many articles about customer service, from the superior, to the hideous. We strive to deliver a world-class customer service experience at Thompson’s Realty, it is the foundation of our brokerage. This isn’t a revolutionary concept, in fact it is a simple as it gets ”“ customer service should be the foundation of any service-based industry.
A key element of providing customer service is getting feedback from your customers / clients. We here at Thompson’s Realty have not done a good job of that, yet. But that will change, soon.
Starbucks’ Customer Survey ”“ The Epic Fail
Bright and early this morning, my lovely bride headed to Starbucks to start daily the caffeine infusion. When she called and said they had a new drink offering ”“ the Toffee Mocha ”“ she got the green light to bring one home.
Our favorite (and outstanding) barista gave Francy a handout that had instructions for filling out an online survey about the new drink. Starbucks wanted our feedback. Makes perfect sense ”“ introduce a new product and see what the customer has to say about it. Nice of them to throw in a coupon for a free coffee too!
So off I went to MyStarbucksVisit.com. Hey, who am I to pass up a free beverage? They wanted the feedback, they asked for it, and I was happy to provide it.
Here is what I saw after I entered the “customer code””¦
So I tried a different browser.
Who knows why, but I tried entering the code a fourth time. And guess what? I didn’t get the error! The site thought about my code for a few seconds and returns this”¦
Expired? My “invitation” said the expiration date was 11/30/2010 ”“ over two months away.
At this point, I suspect 95% of the population would have bailed out of this process. Actually, most probably would have said, “the heck with this” after having their code rejected repeatedly.
Being one to never give up however, and having this odd desire to see how this thing would play out, I called the toll-free number shown on the latest screen.
After all, Starbucks asked me for feedback, and they’re still saying “we’d still love your comments”. Damnit, I want to help them! (and I want my freaking free coffee).
Here’s how the phone call went”¦
“We’re sorry, this number has been disconnected. Please call 1-800-782-7282.”
At this point, I suspect 99.99% of the population would have said, “F this!” and given up.
But I trudged on. Calling this latest number, I was immediately delivered into voicemail prompt hell.
“Press 1 for this, 2 for that”¦” all the way up through number 47 or something. (OK, I exaggerate. But I’m annoyed as hell by now.) Naturally, none of the options really fitted what I wanted to do, that being GIVE THEM THE PRODUCT FEEDBACK THEY ASKED FOR.
So I made a selection that was the closest I could find (comments about Starbucks.com or a recent store experience) and a very nice young lady answered the phone. After explaining what was going on, she put me on hold to investigate.
Tick tock. Tick tock.
4 or 5 minutes later, she came back on the line. Very apologetically saying they would send me a couple of coupons for my trouble and they’d still love to have feedback on my “store experience”.
This lead to another discussion about how I wasn’t really looking to provide a “store experience” but that I was trying to give them my feedback on a new product. You know, feedback that they freaking asked me to give them”¦
“Sure, no problem,” says the nice young lady. And she commences to ask me a few questions. Where I live, what store I went to. What the store number was. Store number? Who the heck knows the store number? Were the baristas nice and helpful. Things like that. But not one single question on the new coffee ”“ the question that really started this whole thing.
Then she says, “OK, we’re sorry about the website hassle, and we’ll be sure to let the store know about your experience!”
“Uhm, don’t you want some feedback on the new product I tried?”
“No, I think we have everything we need. Have a nice day!” ”¦click”¦
Where Starbucks Went Wrong
Clearly this was a frustrating user experience. There are almost too many failure points to count. “Customer code” invalid, offer expired, phone number disconnected, no right category in the voicemail prompts, and finally once I got to a human being to give my product feedback they didn’t even ask product questions.
At this point, I have to assume the feedback Starbucks is getting on their new drink is at or near zero. Good on them for asking for the feedback, but if you make it impossible to receive said feedback, what is the point?
The lesson here is clear. Getting feedback from your customers is a very good idea. Acting on that feedback, changing your processes and procedures to improve the customer experience is an even better idea.
But you have to get that feedback first. Find a way to do that. An easy way. And for the love of Pete, TEST your feedback gathering process before you launch it to ensure it doesn’t evaporate into the ether”¦