Goodbye Starbucks’ Benefits

Okay, at first, I wanted to give Starbucks props for making a great move forward. Unfortunately, I can only congratulate them on the changes to the app.

What did Starbucks do?
Well, they finally listened to their customers and decided that their mobile payment app will soon track your free drinks and allow you to redeem from the app instead of mailing you a postcard. (Announced via email and a blog post entitled, “Bringing You Rewards Faster (and Tastier)“).

I don’t know if that is part of their Square partnership, but I do congratulate them on that! They stated this has been their number one request. Really? No kidding. If you read my previous post about this, Starbucks’ Kind of Loyalty, you’ll remember my frustration in how sending a postcard (to reduce redemptions) doesn’t create a truly loyal customer (and is super wasteful).

So, what’s the problem?
Instead of making this a positive brand experience, they decided to wrap in two items they’re removing from their Gold Card members. I guess they thought that giving a few new benefits would soften the blow. Well, it didn’t.

See the comments…
Shortly after the release of the post, you could see the hundreds of comments stacking up. 456 by the time I wrote this post. Mostly people upset about the removal of the free addition of Soy or Organic milk and free syrups for Gold Card members.

What could they have done…
Instead of trying to soften the blow, they should have kept that separate, or better yet, just kept providing that benefit. If they truly needed to remove those items, then, they should have given a window between the new benefits and taking these away. I’ve seen similar actions done by big brands with “rate notification” letters. Give something positive but take away a few existing benefits or charge more. This never seems to go over as well as the well intentioned marketing managers who plan these campaigns. Not saying that brands never have to communicate bad news, but it’s better to be honest and open why it’s being done, versus trying to hide the bad news away.

Agree? Disagree? Think I think way too much about Starbucks’ loyalty?


Related Posts Mentioned Above:

This entry was posted in , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • David Parsons

    Nicely written. Like the thought process… funny to me how often companies don’t consider the full effects a post or content can have on their customer service efforts. Goes to show how important it is to weigh all options, evaluate all consequences, and listening to the customer (to take into consideration what’s truly important to them) before making a strategic move.

  • Kathy

    I have been a loyal Starbucks customer for years,
    and this will definitely push me away from the entire brand. To make me to pay 50 cents to add classic (i.e. simple syrup or SUGAR) to my iced drinks when it only costs them a few cents per serving? Horrible idea. That extra $6 would make it equal out to the 3 less drinks I’d have to buy. I’m not dumb and I’m not fooled by their give and take.

    Also, I always bought our coffee beans from their stores, as getting a tall beverage treat made it worth it, but now I can buy their coffee for less in the grocery store (or not buy it at all – though I do love their House Blend).

    I really didn’t care that I had to bring in a postcard for a free drink, I didn’t. I know a lot of people (hint hint) complained about it, but how many didn’t? So I would like to say they really didn’t do their market research well enough.

    I think Starbucks really messed up with this one, and I really hope they heed all the negative feedback and reconsider their new “plan”.