Mobile or Not, Here I Come

I admit it; I’m a one-a-day Starbucks coffee addict. It’s a mandatory stop before getting to work. On days that I work out from our office gym, I stop and order at the Starbucks down the block, given the early hour. And on days that I get up and run in my neighborhood, I place a mobile order on my way to work on the Starbucks app. While mobile ordering is exceptionally easy, pickups are chaotic. The allocated store space is overcrowded and the staff is rushed, so can’t spare any interest in engaging with the mobile mob scene. You have no choice but to manhandle the many cups and pastry bags on the counter to find yours. Still, it sure beats waiting in the even more crowded in-store queue.

Last Wednesday was a home workout—or mobile ordering day. But when I tried placing my Starbucks order, my usual store was not appearing. Fully convinced it was user error, I kept closing the app and retrying, but kept getting the same result. Being totally confused—and in desperate need of my grande dark roast—I decided I’d just deal with waiting in line, so walked on to my usual Starbucks. But once I arrived, the mystery was solved—the store was closed, with a sign in the window stating it was undergoing repairs.

Undergoing repairs? What kind of repairs and why didn’t they tell us the prior day, while fulfilling our orders? Well it must have been an emergency closing (e.g., a burst water pipe) and the signage was just unclear. Fortunately, there is another Starbucks just two blocks away (isn’t there always?), so I successfully placed my mobile order and headed over. When I arrived, I was pleasantly greeted by a mobile order concierge (is this the same brand?!), who asked my name and was able to immediately tell me how soon my order would be ready.

I wondered if this was temporary, to help manage the overflow from the store closed around the corner. Just to be sure, I decided to visit this location the next day, and the mobile concierge is a fixture! Are they testing the concept in select stores? How come I didn’t know the experience was much more civilized just two blocks away? Is this really the same brand?

Looking back, what failed me that morning was Starbucks’ communication. As a loyal customer, I should have experienced the following:

  • The mobile app should have told me the location I was trying to order from was closed, and suggested that I visit another store, maybe even offering an alternative address.
  • The store sign should have read “We’re sorry; emergency air conditioning repairs today. Please visit our neighboring locations.” Then I would have felt bad for the staff and anticipated a reopening the next day.
  • And the mobile concierge? As much as I loved the service, he should have said something about this being a pilot (or whatever they’re doing) so I could determine if I want this store to be my new mobile ordering pickup location.

Regardless, I will be back again and again, as the product still trumps the other local coffee options, at least in my view. And I guess they know that. Still, I can’t help but wonder what would Howard Schulz think?

 

Starbucks-UniversityAve

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