about contact us

No posts containing your search terms were found.

Your search did not match any documents.


  • * Make sure all words are spelled correctly.

  • * Try different keywords.

  • * Try more general keywords.

Customer Experience

. Iga

Intelligentsia's barista prepares coffee - Turkish style.

I can say with certainty that I am a coffee connoisseur. And it’s not only about craving of the daily fix, I do like the whole going-to-a-café and hanging-out-there experience. I love the creative ambiance and the social randomness of it.

Fifteen years ago when I came to America Starbucks was it for me – of course, after I had to get used drinking my cappuccino from a paper cup. But I remember how much I loved (after a 20 minute drive to the nearest one), getting inside the café, standing in looong lines, smelling the fresh ground coffee, overhearing conversations, making random chats with other customers, then sitting down with a fresh, steamy cup of my own and having a meaningful conversations, or just reading something that always ended up inspiring me. Sometimes, I just loved watching people enjoying themselves, having their first dates, or business meetings. This was an experience! A point of destination in my daily routine. From the flavor of the coffee to the people and the whole surroundings, this was to me well worth those thirty five bucks a week.

Well, that was 15 years ago. I don’t go to Starbucks anymore, maybe once in a while a grab a cup of hot tea, but the truth is I stay away from their coffee. It wasn’t for a financial reason. What happened is that their business decision at some point impacted my experience as a customer in a negative way, and all of a sudden I realized that this was costing me too much money for what I was getting. They became victims of their own success and adapted a fast food approach to coffee, something I can get everywhere. They went after total expansion, speed-to-market and convenience tactics. That impacted the way they service their customers. They stopped pulling their shots, espresso is now made from pre-made syrup, there is no aroma of fresh coffee, no random conversations with friendly strangers (because the service now is much faster), comfy chairs were replaced for the most part by wooden ones, the music is different, fireplaces are gone, life music is gone, and it’s just not the same. Especially the coffee itself. In the process of streamlining they have lost the charm and the flavor I was after. Even if the coffee was $1, I wouldn’t come back. It’s not about the money, it’s about the experience.

You might make an argument that Starbucks is still very profitable. That might be true, although a quick google magic gave me an insight that their traffic is dropping, but their revenue has little to do with customer satisfaction and more to do with global expansion.

Today, I found myself in a bustling, urban, boutique café waiting for my 6 oz. cappuccino a good 10 minutes, which for a coffee addict is an eternity. I was watching baristas doing their elaborate routines and people being called by their first names when their cup was ready. There was no empty seat. The place was packed with tiny groups of people eagerly discussing their issues, or simply enjoying the moment together. The aroma of freshly ground beans was delightful, and the people were smiling and making small talks with strangers. In coffee business preparation and brewing method are the things that make the coffee. Cutting corners on the process or time it takes to brew – something that Starbucks did – simply will affect the quality, from aroma and texture to the taste. Despite having to stand the whole time I was at the cafe I walked out somehow relaxed with a tiny cup in my hand. The hand made flavor was the best in the world. I had the haute couture of coffee with a leaf pattern on my foam for only $3.61.

So, what is my point here? The customer’s (total) experience is more important than any business decision that is going to impact that experience. In my industry, we often throw around phrases like “customer-centered” design, or solution. First, it is imperative to really understand what constitutes a good user experience. Second, you always must think like a consumer and react to your own solutions as if you were a shopper. The moment you start rationalizing things for the business, you are going to miss the point. In this day and age the customer always wins. Always! We are more held accountable for upsetting a VP at work, than for loosing a customer. The people who are driving financial goals of the company don’t consider the experience of an individual customer, or whether the expansion tactics are relevant to a shopper in any way. The business isn’t concerned with what the customer wants, the business wants to make money. But ultimately, it is the customer - one by one - who controls the money. Therefore customer controls your business. The business should support customer experience efforts and stop engaging in short-sighted tactics that miss the point.


Post a Comment

<< Home