Starbucks discovers customer conversations


Love it or loathe it, everyone has an opinion on Starbucks. The fact is you can’t mention the word without somebody offering a tale of: ‘it used to be better when’…before being shouted down by one of Starbuck’s loyal followers. Well, now these people have a place to vent their grievances, make suggestions and then openly discuss and vote on them on My Starbucks idea, an online forum ala Dell ideastorm.

And who better to give an overview than the man who made Dell sit up and listen, Jeff Jarvis – who has written a powerful post on Starbuck’s entry into the world of social media. Jeff’s post is a beautiful early phase case study of how listening to your customers is both simple and massively rewarding for brands – or any organisation for that matter.

When put in these terms, it’s very difficult to argue with the power of social media. And you really can’t argue with the logic. Or as Jeff puts it:

“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.”

I for one will be encouraging clients and anyone else who will listen to not only read Jeff’s post, as i think it’s one of the better social media overviews that I’ve read, but to follow the evolution of the Starbucks forum to see just how much simply listening to customer’s conversations will change the Starbucks offering.


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