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Starbucks War Continues: No Cameras Allowed
The Starbucks on the corner is still on my bad side.

Photo Credit: weedezign / Shutterstock.com

Remember Blockbuster? How about Radio Shack? Ever been to Shoney’s? At one point, many companies were given the “great” tag. At the highest points of these brands' histories, if you would have offered anyone the chance to invest their life savings into the company for a 50 percent ownership that activates in 2015, people would have fought for that chance. The value of those companies today is far less and declining.

Starbucks, which I love as a brand, product and from an executive leadership standpoint, will hopefully never be a once-upon-a-time great brand. However, if the Chicago & Franklin store is any indication of where the future is headed, the leadership team should look at it for a fix.

Clearly, the store is high grossing. It is never free of long lines – not at 6 a.m. and not at 6 p.m. It is crowded and active. However, many of the staff don’t count their blessings. Why? Perhaps they don’t feel ownership, or perhaps it’s simply because they don’t care.

If you didn’t read my previous column about the Starbucks at Chicago & Franklin, you can read it here. That’s the starting point to the disappointment. However, my love for Starbucks and the convenience of that location hasn’t prohibited me from spending more money with them. And, locations like the one on North Ave. and 25th St. in Chicago provide me hope that the right management can lead to the right consumer engagement. Let me explain.

In 2014, our agency probably spent in the range of $20,000 at that Starbucks. That’s a lot of money, given there is a Dunkin’ Donuts right around the corner, a tea shop that popped up over the summer (that has since closed), and even another three or four Starbucks locations within a short walking distance. It is also a lot considering half of it came from myself for agency celebrations.

We love celebrations at our agency – and challenges. In fact, on a cold January day, after defeating Patrick (who works at our agency) in a “best of three” ping pong tournament, I won (because we gamble on almost every battle) him going to Starbucks and having to order and carry, by himself, the complete order for our entire staff. I looked at the clock and even had him wait to try to make it less overwhelming for the staff to handle 25 newly-placed drink requests.

We sent someone with Patrick, not for help (he lost a bet, duh), but to video tape his superhero-like efforts. Unfortunately, though, we don’t have a fun video to share – the person working the Starbucks register yelled at her to turn off the camera.

Here was Patrick, ready to make a pretty heavy investment (compared to the average ticket) being yelled at. Hmmm, is that the right approach to customer service? Or, does this particular Starbucks just not give a (bleep) about the loyal customer?

We order, as an agency, at least 20 times a day from this location. And, unfortunately, will continue to do so out of convenience, a love for the brand and a love of the product. But, eventually, it would be nice for them to say, “Thanks for being a great customer to us – we finally understand that you order a Grande Blonde every morning. And hey, for that $20 bill you put in our tip box every month (on top of whatever everyone else gives), we appreciate that, too.”

When I arrive on Sundays a little past 6 a.m. at the Starbucks on 25th and North, they are happily waiting for me with my drink ready. No asking. There, they appreciate me and I only go there once a week.

I bet if Blockbuster could have said “thank you” to a few more people when they were rocking, they would have. At the end of the day, the customers will ultimately decide your path. Perhaps a little “niceness” training would go a long way at Chicago & Franklin to help them appreciate those that appreciate the brand.