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Starbucks: Delivering Customer Service вЂ" Case Study

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Starbucks вЂ" one of the fastest growing companies in the US and in the world - had built its position on the market by connect with its customers, and create “third place” beside home and work, where people could relax and enjoy others or themselves. It was the motto of Starbucks’ owner Howard Schultz and mostly thanks to his philosophy; company has became the biggest coffee drink retailer in the world. However, within the new customer satisfaction report, there is shown some concerns, that company has lost the connection with customers and it must been taken some steps to help Starbucks to go back on the right path regarding customer satisfaction.

I will briefly summarize and examine issues facing Starbucks. Starting from there I will pick the most important issue and study it from different positions. In the end of my I will try to suggest what steps should be made to keep the company in continuing its quest to become one of the most recognized and respected brands in the world.


With clear core values towards providing quality coffee, the best service, and atmosphere, Starbucks has enjoyed great success since it was founded 30 years ago. The company has being doing very well for last 11 years with 5% or more store sales increase, even with the rest economy still reeling from the post-9/11 recession. However recent research, conducted to Starbucks, have showed some concerns regarding company’s problem meeting customers’ expectations. To increase customer satisfaction level, Christine Day, the Starbucks senior vice president of administration in North America, suggested a plan to add additional 40 million annually for extra 20 hours of labor per every store. This move should help the company to accomplish lower time of service to three minutes.

Analysis of Exhibits from the case:

Exhibits 1 and 2 show the growing of the Starbucks during the period of five years from 1998 through 2002. As I can see, company has experienced huge grow both geographically and financially. During that period net income more than tripled and amount of stores worldwide almost tripled. The next exhibits show payroll structure and income volume per location in 2002 and product mix for North American company-operated stores. Exhibit 6 shows US retail coffee market predictions till 2005 years. It clearly shows changing in Americans’ coffee drinking style into specialty coffee. It is very important for Starbucks because company’s main market is specialty coffee. Next of the exhibits, shows positive customer snapshot scores for North America stores. Those snapshots suggest further company’s success. The only issue we can find is the product quality. According to the exhibit product quality went down during 3rd quarter of 2002.

Exhibit 8 shows customer retention information. We can find from this data, that established customers and new customers are quite different in respect of education, income and attitudes toward Starbucks. According to the exhibit, customers who first visited Starbucks five years ago have higher degree of education and higher income level. Beside that, new Starbucks customers do not see it as a brand of high value, while established customers believe Starbucks to be brand they trust (50%), offering high quality product (51%). Next exhibit suggests, who customers visiting Starbucks stores often, are more satisfied, than customers who buy coffee from the company average four visits per month.

Exhibit 10 informs us about importance of key attributes in customer satisfaction during 2002. According to this data, customers put store cleanness as the most important attribute of the Starbucks stores. Next places on the list took convenient, treating as valuable customer, friendly staff, coffee taste and fast service and right prices. On the other end are selection of merchandise, new beverages and whole bean selection.

We can clearly see that fast customer service is not the most important attribute for Starbucks customers.

Last exhibit shows factors driving “valued customer perception. From 34% of responders indicating better service as a factor, 19% want see friendlier staff and only 10% want to have faster service. From 28% of responders indicating better prices and incentives as a factor, 19% of them believe “free cup after x number of visit” as the most important improvement. Therefore, we can clearly see that adding additional employees to speed up the service is not a solution to fix the company’s problems.

Solutions and Suggestions

After reviewing the case I believe there are some possible alternatives to fix the Starbucks situation.

1. Investing 40 million per year to increase labor hours per store. This solution does not appear as the best way to fix Starbucks’ problems. As we clearly saw from the exhibits provided with the case, there are some more important issues for



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