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More about the Starbucks shutdown

This is a follow-up to last week’s post about Starbucks shutting down for three hours.

1. What did the employees think?

I interviewed a few baristas about their thoughts on the experience.  Their take was pretty positive. 

  • The message they received was that it really is about the coffee.  They said that there was some pep-talk involved, but mostly it was a message about quality and customer service.  They also watched a DVD about making better drinks.
  • One barista said that she had been working there when Howard Schultz left, and said that there was a down-turn in corporate culture and enthusiasm. She’s encouraged by the changes.
  • Was it a cheesy or meaningful? The baristas took it seriously, which is all that really matters.

2. The baristas had an opinion. 

I can’t imagine getting the same level of feedback and insight at Dunkin’.  Whatever Starbucks problems might be, their people are head and shoulders above any other fast-food clerks in the world.

3.  Was it a publicity stunt?

Of course.  But a good one.

Conversation about Starbucks has been negative and skeptical. It takes dramatic gestures like this to get people talking.  We need something to talk about, and they gave it to us. Without a doubt, Starbucks earned a word of mouth home run. To keep the word of mouth moving, they need a series of equally dramatic conversation-starters.


4. What do Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart think?

What else matters?


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  1. Michelle Riggen-Ransom March 3, 2008 at 9:05 am #

    I was working at a Starbucks the other day and some of the employees there seemed a little bitter about the whole thing. One woman said loudly, in full earshot of customers “I guess it doesn’t matter that I’ve been here seven years, I don’t know what I’m doing!” with much eye-rolling and head-shaking. That said, some of the other employees seemed to be even more friendly, so maybe it all evens out.

  2. Lewis Green March 3, 2008 at 1:52 pm #

    I’m not surprised by the Starbucks employee (partner) responses. And having been a corporate manager at the Starbucks Support Center in Seattle, I don’t believe this was a publicity stunt. Howard Schultz was preaching values, ethics, authenticity and passion long before those became corporate buzz words. He believes passionately that store partners are the most important people at Starbucks and he believes passionately in putting people first. Nice post, Andy.

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