Starbucks embraces customers' input
by Charlene Li
Today I tried out Starbucks' new customer feedback and idea generation site at mystarbucksidea.com, which is powered by Salesforce Idea (it's the same product that's behind Salesforce's own Idea Exchange and Dell's Ideastorm). Josh and I feature these two sites in our Groundswell book, as an example of how a company can execute an "embracing" objective.
On these sites, people like you and me can "share" an idea. Then other people can "vote" for them, and the ideas with the most votes float to the top. People can "discuss" an idea by adding comments, and finally, to close the loop, Starbucks will provide feedback and status reports on the most promising ideas.
The results: Starbucks "launched" the site on March 19th. The top idea as of today is for Starbucks to offer a "punch card" to provide a frequency discount or free drinks. It has 29,410 points, which means that 2,914 people have voted for it (each vote counts as 10 points). The site's "Ideas In Action" section has a post (sorry, no permalink!) has an entry on March 24th saying that this particular idea is being reviewed and will be incorporated into the Starbucks Card Reward program.
The reason why I was so intrigued with the Starbucks site is that I'm a loyal user of Starbucks, so I have plenty of ideas on how they can improve their service. Just how much do I use Starbucks? It's my default place to work on weekends (the empty office is too depressing and having spouse/kids at home is a recipe for non-work) and my remote office when I'm traveling. As a result, I know where the electrical outlets are at all of my local Starbucks and bring along an extension cord. I also have a list of Starbucks stores bookmarked on my phone browser.
What's impressive is that I'm feeling more connected with other Starbucks fans, especially those craving healthier breakfasts, automatic ordering with my Starbucks card (mine is a simple Grande decaf), and my pet peeve, more power outlets.
But Starbucks, please don't let this engagement end! I want to subscribe to your Ideas in Action "blog" via RSS so that I can find out more about what's new -- and to see if my favorite ideas are being implemented. I want to comment on your blog too, to let me know that I'm happy/not happy about your future decisions. Close the loop, and you've not only got me hooked, but I'll walk the extra block in NYC or drive the extra mile to go to you rather than another coffee house.
Update: It hit me that I'd like to know your experience with Starbucks Ideas. What do you like/don't like about it, and more importantly, what brands/companies would you like to see adopt something similar? I'm curious to see if you would participate and contribute more to personal, consumer brands like Starbucks, or if there's also an affinity to business-oriented companies like Salesforce.