Starbucks recently rolled out the next phase in their ongoing plan for world coffee domination, over at [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead]. The Starbucks My Idea is like a Starbucks blog, hopped up on both Web 2.0 and caffeine, and fuelled by customer suggestions of how to improve Starbucks, on which the community at large can comment and vote.
The stated purpose of the site – to seek input from customers, from loyal to occasional, on how their interactions with Starbucks can be improved – cries out from every page. Not only can you post Your Starbucks Idea, but you can join in discussions on posted ideas with other customers and Starbucks Idea Partners, and vote for those that you think have merit. Finally, votes are tallied, with the most popular (and, let’s face it, those that assist most in the aforementioned glorious ongoing plan for world coffee domination,) that will be acted upon shared with the online community. Don’t expect compensation though, either monetary or in beverage form – you may get your name on the site, but that’s it as far as rewards go.
It’s a natural next step in the progression of asking the customer what they want. If “customer feedback version 1.0” was the drab box marked “suggestions” in the corner of the lobby, behind the potted plants, and version 2.0 was the ubiquitous “email@example.com” email address under the “contact us” tab of every web site ever created, then this, the My Starbucks Idea, is a rich and dynamic version 3.0. With a clean and uncluttered design and straightforward navigation, the site is easy on the eyes and easy to use, and information is easily accessible.
But feedback can be a double-edged sword, and sometimes wielded wildly against those who requested it. Remember how the crumpled paper in the suggestions box gathered dust until, just before the annual general meeting, it was opened so that the CEO could truthfully say he’d conducted a full and in-depth review of all input? And how rarely you got (think hard now – did you ever get?) a reply to any suggestions sent to the faceless drones behind the “firstname.lastname@example.org” email address? Feedback is worthless unless it’s acted upon; to ignore it is to ask your customers their opinion and then to put your fingers in your ears and walk away while they’re talking to you, humming and stamping your feet. Hardly good business practice. Yet here, the transparency of conducting the collection, discussion, review and voting of ideas and suggestions on My Starbucks Idea gives us hope that, with continued community efforts, this could advance significantly active and ongoing customer-to-corporation and customer-to-customer communication. It’s a Very Nice Starbucks Idea.
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