How To Avoid Losing Customers (Like Starbucks Did)


Recently, Zack Swire blogged about his experiences with Starbucks. You’ll want to intimately understand what happened here, so you can avoid making the same mistakes Starbucks did. By understanding what happened, and making yourself aware, you will be in a better position to prevent such experiences.

Let’s revisit what happened:

  • Zack was a loyal Starbucks customer.
  • Zack picked up a Starbucks Gold Card to show his loyalty and received perks.
  • Starbucks came out with a new Starbucks loyalty program and ‘ignored’ their old loyalty holders, leaving Zack in the dark.
  • When Zack found out, he signed up with the new program, but only for the perks. He was no longer a brand advocate.

What happened here?
Starbucks attracted Zack because of his loyalty to Starbucks. They wanted to reward his loyalty. Then they decided to come out with a new loyalty program, and completely “dumped him,” as he put it.

Businesses take too much for granted. Every fan that shares your content, consumes your media, or buys your product, needs to be thanked and treated appropriately.

Another way of putting it: Anyone that spends more than one second of thought or action on something you have done needs to be thanked.

In today’s attention demanding society, it’s important that you reward anyone who gives you the slightest bit of attention. Starbucks tried to do that, but then they dropped the ball. They increased loyalty with a loyalty reward program… and then failed to deliver.

This is an experience gap. An experience gap is the difference between expectation and reality. Zack expected to be treated like a loyal customer, but in reality, Starbucks failed to meet the expectation over the long-term.

Businesses should strive to reverse the experience gap. Reality should always exceed expectations. Never vice versa. The more you make yourself aware of this, the more you can close the gap. The more you can fascinate customers. The more you can create out-of-the-ordinary experiences that give people something worth talking about.

How do you reverse the gap?


Image Courtesy of: Dmitri N.

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  • Anonymous

    Didn’t know you wrote guest blogs Matt. Interesting read. Agree, expectations are seldom addressed effectively by businesses. Most times, they just wish for the best

  • http://blog.goswire.com Zack Swire

    Cool to hear that Ryan :) Nice to have you reading The Wire and cool to connect with you at #CoWorking