Starbucks: Evaluating The Customer’s Experience

During the holiday season we will be looking back to our best blog posts of the year.

Here is Number 9 by Alexa Frank!

Our TWO Sense: Starbucks

Although you may recognize Starbucks for their signature beverages, green logo, overpriced coffee and long lines…there are many other ways in which Starbucks stands out. It started in 2006 when Starbucks started taking big steps on the digital marketing front by pairing up with iTunes to feature their coffeehouse tracks online. Soon after, Starbucks took another step in the digital sphere by providing customers with free Wi-Fi in the store. Now, Starbucks has taken yet another big step and released their iPhone app.

For those unfamiliar with their app, it allows you to pay, check your balance, load gift cards, and earn rewards! For example, if you receive a gift card from a friend, you can now go and register that gift card on the app allowing you to use your phone instead having the gift card on hand. Also, when your credit runs out, you can easily reload the app using your credit or debit card meaning you no longer need to present any form of physical payment besides your phone when checking out. Best of all, the app allows you to earn rewards such as free drinks and special offers! Overall, the app has experienced huge success. Now 15% of all purchases are made on a mobile device.

What’s next for Starbucks? In 2015 they are enhancing the customer experience by offering free wireless charging stations in the store, a preorder and pickup option on the app, and office deliveries! This means not only will customers be pulled in to order a signature beverage, but now they will also come to grab some juice for their phones and tablets. Starbucks has really outdone itself this time and the results of these trials will be very interesting.

In an interview with Forbes Magazine Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, expressed that “No single competency is enabling us to elevate the Starbucks brand more than our global leadership in mobile, digital, and loyalty. Starbucks is a clear leader in mobile payments and we are encouraged by how consumers have embraced mobile apps as a way to pay.”

How can you create a unique customer experience with your company? Whether you’re building a mobile app or simply evaluating your current customer experience, the key is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Starbucks’ success in mobile payments comes from their experiential marketing approach. They realized that in order to drive usage, the app needed to be very simple to use and add value beyond other payment methods, so they relied on existing ideas (gift cards and loyalty points). Ask yourself:

  • Does your business add value above and beyond your competition?
  • Do you deliver a truly unique customer experience that drives word of mouth referral?

Ponder that over a cup of coffee.

If you are interested in discussing mobile customer experiences, contact me at 

Here is Number 10

Originally Posted on 11/4/2014