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Who Drinks Tea at Starbucks Anyway?

Posted at 1:31 PM on Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I do.

Why? Because I don't drink coffee.

Yesterday morning I went into my local Starbuck's for a meeting and ordered a Grande Earl Grey tea, because, like I said, I don't drink coffee.

They were out of Earl Grey, so as I paid for my flavored hot water I said "just give me Awake", knowing that it is another good black tea flavor.

And they were out of it too.

I ended up drinking some herbal tea variety which was fine, but not the reason for blogging about the experience. I blog about it because as they handed me the Vente size (the big size - larger than I ordered), they also handed me my money back.

Some people, with a different perspective who might be having a bad day might have been quite peeved by this lack of inventory management. While I was inconvenienced I was happy to pay for my drink regardless of the flavor. But they insisted on giving me my money back.

It is a simple gesture, done automatically and without thought - in other words they didn't wait to see if I looked upset (I think I was quite pleasant) to offer the refund and no one went to a policy manual either.

It was simply good Customer focus and Customer service.

You may be thinking it is easy to give me my money back because their real cost was insignificant - a little water, a cup and two tea bags. And while that might be true, but if you stop at that you have missed the lesson.

Starbucks won more of my meetings, and many coffee and tea orders, even though I can't be on wireless internet access there for free, because of the gesture. Their residual revenue from my decision is significant.

They won more of my business for the gesture, but the gesture came from great hiring, training, and systems that made it a very pleasant and automatic service recovery.

And whether you drink coffee or not, you can learn from that.
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