Following Dell’s Ideastorm, Starbucks has no opened a forum — also powered by Salesforce.com — where customers can make suggestions then discuss and vote on them. Starbucks, of all companies, with its loyal and opinionated customers, should have been doing this years ago. Every company should be doing it now.
If auto companies had this five years ago, we’d all have told them to force their radio manufacturers to include a damned 39-cent plug so we could hook up our iPods. If airlines had it today, we’d tell them how to get out of their customer-service mess. Why does listening to your customers sound like a web 2.0 idea? It should be a business 1.0 necessity.
Already, there are clear themes coming out in the Starbucks discussion. Many customers are suggesting — and many more are agreeing — that our frequent-sipper cards should have our regular orders embedded in them so we could swipe the card at the door, make the order, pay for it, and avoid that damned line (making that damned line shorter for everyone else). Others are also suggesting they want to do the same with their iPhones. This genius comes not from MBAs or executives but from customers. If you’ll just listen.
More customers want express lines for simple drip orders or sandwich purchases. More want employees manning the cash registers instead of running around taking orders in advance and then messing them up (well, that’s my variation on the theme). Note the underlying chorus: those damned lines.
One customer gives decorating advice to avoid the stores wearing down and looking so ratty, as so many do.
One suggests what I’ve long wanted: a drain at the cream station to drain that excess coffee. Yes, it’d be expensive to retrofit that, but shouldn’t it be part of the spec for new stores now?
Get rid of the tip jars, says one customer — but others in the comments disagreee. That’s what is great about these Salesforce storms: out of the conversation will come some measurement of consensus.
There are calls for whole wheat.
Lots want free wi-fi (which means Starbucks hasn’t done a good job of telling people that it’s coming with its switch from T-mobile to AT&T).
This customer wants softer music. It is, after all, our office.
And, of course, stop the Vente madness.
What an incredible wealth of information, ideas — and caring — from customers. All you have to do is listen.
I believe that Salesforce’s Storms are an important new infrastructure for customer conversation — a forum mixed with Digg mixed with a suggestion box mixed with a company blog. I don’t understand why companies aren’t falling over themselves to at least offer their customers this opportunity. Too often, it’s because they’re scared of what their own customers will say. Except now, they’re saying it on the web anyway. That’s the lesson of Dell and now of Starbucks.