Venti Sized Customer Involvement

This week, we’re looking at blogging for businesses, and what it can mean for not only them, but their customers too. I chose to look at Starbucks’ website to see what they were doing with their own blog, because I’m an invested customer. Someone go get me a latte while I peruse their blog.

Their site actually navigates to two different blogs – at the bottom of their home page they have featured blog posts from their regular blog, which is usual fare – semi-regular posts about things like coffee bean supply, the economy, how blueberries are going to save our lives. The layout matches their home site perfectly – uniform and minimalist – it’s nice to look at. The content isn’t that scintillating or involving though, and it’s a bit dry.

But that’s not the blog I want to talk about. Starbucks also has another blog – which is actually easier to navigate to from their home page, which is a great thing – called My Starbucks Idea. And this blog is fantastic. It’s still got that uniformity with the main site. Minimalist design, but this blog is all about the customers. The premise is that if you ever stand in line at Starbucks and think ‘wow, they should really do this to make the experience better’, you go to this blog, and submit your idea. Other customers (you do have to register to be able to vote for and submit ideas) can ‘promote’ or ‘demote’ ideas, thus giving them scores so they can be ranked.

In the sidebar, they have an ‘Ideas so far’ widget that separates ideas into categories. There is also a widget showing the current leading ideas with the popular vote, as well as a little poll widget that asks a new product based question every day. It’s a really great setup, and just engenders fantastic customer feedback. Customers are given a voice, and feel like they get an instant outlet for it. Plus Starbucks gets what amounts to instant polling – they know right away what products are being received well, and where they could improve.

Starbucks has a team of what they call ‘Idea Partners’ who are employees who read through the ideas, and they select the most popular and innovative ones, and present them to key decision makers over at Starbucks HQ. So your idea could actually be implemented – how’s that for consumer feedback in action?

Finally at the bottom of the page, they have a list of ideas that have been used in the past – and lets you know whether they’re launched, reviewed, under review or in the works.

Because of the user generated content of the blog, it is almost constantly updated – there is always something new to see, to vote on, and to voice your opinion on. It makes your Starbucks experience more than just grabbing a coffee, suddenly you are a voice in a virtual boardroom of brainstorming.

It’s a fantastic, interactive way to have more input into your coffee order than simply short, tall, grande or venti, and given that Starbucks’ MO is customized for you coffee, it’s not surprising that their idea blog adopts those same values. So join in, and place your idea on the table. You may just see it in a Starbucks near you.

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