A grande idea that’s anything but vanilla, unless that’s what you want

Starbucks is a master at creating buzz… in more ways than one.

MyStarbucksIdea.com has thousands talking and the people at Starbucks taking action.

I am typically very impressed when companies have revelations to become more customer-centric, especially when their ideas work.  Being one of the most popular brands of coffee in the world, Starbucks stands out from the crowd when it comes to listening to and responding to its customers.  In early 2008, Starbucks launched MyStarbucksIdea.com, a community Web site that allows customers to post feedback and provide suggestions on the Starbucks products, experience, and involvement.

MyStarbucksIdea allows customers to write about what they like or dislike about the Starbucks brand across a wide array of categories.  Site visitors can post anything and everything they want about changes – innovative or straightforward – and others can vote on the ideas in order for them to hopefully take effect.  The people behind the scenes at Starbucks promise to do all they can to transform the brand into an experience like no other.  Why should you pay the extra buck – or two, three, or four… – for a cup of Starbucks rather than ordering a cup o’ joe from the competitor?  Starbucks is taking notes on what we coffee drinkers want from new flavors to new technology to opening shop in our hometowns to playing better music to going green to serving alcohol (a process in the making).

The goal of MyStarbucksIdea is to connect with customers, giving them the chance to make a difference in the organization’s everyday processes.  By sharing ideas, discussing ideas, and then voting on them, Starbucks customers have seen MSI as a groundbreaking (no pun intended) facet of their favorite coffee company. The site is a frequently used media outlet where customers gather and feel a personal connection with others.  Starbucks tells Forrester Research, “Traffic to the site has been immense right from the beginning. But the participation rates have been what are truly exciting.  We’ve had nearly 75,000 ideas submitted in less than six months, with many ideas receiving thousands of votes and hundreds of comments.”

Now more than ever, customers are given the opportunity to make a difference.  Starbucks has effectively used social media to engage in conversation with its loyals and advocates.  Daring strategies like the one Starbucks has taken have been proven to be successful.  When you enter a Starbucks with a client, co-worker, friend, or date, what do you do? You talk. You take sips of your skinny cinnamon dolce latte with extra foam and cinnamon dust while the person sitting across from you chats about their latest music findings or research courses.  Sip slowly, soak in your surroundings, spread happiness.  Share your Starbucks idea today.  They’ll notice you.

“The Roast”
I think Starbucks is moving in the right direction with the MSI campaign.  Although some of the feedback on the Web site is negative, Starbucks is quick to respond to upset customers.  The company continuously improves upon its business decisions and carries out its mission to be the best.  MyStarbucksIdea is a great tool for the staff and customers to interact with fellow java junkies.  It also motivates consumers to speak their minds, giving them a boost of satisfaction when others agree with their fresh ideas.  Starbucks appears in a number of social networking outlets, all of which are valuable to their customer online base.  It is difficult to point out a tactic upon which they can improve.  MyStarbucksIdea even has its own Twitter account on which it posts the most popular submitted ideas.  Easy registration and site navigation make the experience even more fulfilling.  If MSI continues to be successful, Starbucks will experience a sweet-smelling and flavorful future.

Drink up!

  1. I can’t drink coffee. I have an allergic reaction that causes my head to shrink.

  2. I think that Starbucks’ MSI is a brilliant concept because they make it work for them. A lot of companies now have online forums where they encourage their customers to give them honest feedback on current products and services as well as how they can improve. The problem is, a lot of companies hear from customers, but the customers don’t hear back from them. Starbucks makes MSI work because they not only respond to positive and negative feedback, but as you mentioned, they go as far to promote popular ideas on Twitter. Because their customers feel like they’re being listened to, they’re excited to help make their favorite coffee shop better than it already is. Starbucks is a perfect example of how powerful engaging your community can be.

  3. Really well done article. Have you heard about starbucks developing a pay with your cell phone app? I dont know much about this but it sounds like a rechargeable giftcard type application that the cashier scans at the register in order to speed up the already fast service. Stay caffeinated!

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