Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Starbucks mobile ordering system does what it says it will do, and I think that's admirable

Every two weeks I visit my sister Deb's salon for a haircut and conversation.

I really don't need the haircut every two weeks, but I do look forward to the conversation, so the haircut is just an excuse.

I'm there every other Saturday morning, and invariably once she finishes shaping up what hair is left on my head, I walk over to the nearby Starbucks to grab a coffee.

Before I walk over, I fire up the Starbucks app on my phone and place my order online: Small blonde roast with a splash of heavy cream.

And it's there waiting for me every time. Every time, without fail. And not that it's a complicated order or anything, but they get also get the coffee/cream ratio right every time.

Now, before I talk about how impressive that system is to me, I realize you may have your own opinions about Starbucks, whether it's the quality of their coffee, the price of said coffee, or their corporate politics. And to that I would say:

  • QUALITY: You may be right, but I have no standards when it comes to coffee, so I'll drink almost anything.
  • PRICE: You are undoubtedly right there. Even if you're paying for "ambience" and "experience," it's still too much. Yet I continue to make regular purchases there because, well, because I don't really care.
  • POLITICS: Speaking of don't care, it would be difficult for me to care less about what Starbucks advocates for when it comes to social and political issues. I'm just there for the coffee.
Now, you could argue that we should expect brands to deliver on their promises to us, and that when they do so it is no more than the price of gaining you and me as customers. And you're right.

Still, having spent part of my career in consumer goods, I can tell you that marketing and distribution for most products is way, way more complex than you think it is. And any company that, on a mass scale, can promise you a positive experience and consistently come through is to be commended.

Because many don't, you know. And here I'm thinking of cable companies. God bless them they try, but the number of technical issues they experience and customer complaints they absorb suggests to me that most operate their networks on essentially a wing and a prayer. They promise a positive experience and deliver it a shockingly low percentage of the time.

But not my friends at Starbucks. They make it easy to use their app, easy to place my order, and easy to pick it up. Maybe I shouldn't be blown away by this, but I am.

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