There was an interesting article on Yahoo! news yesterday about how Starbucks launched a website to get feedback from its customers to improve the overall customer experience. While most people saw this as just another marketing gimmick I see it as an excellent step towards enhancing their reputation and opening a dialog between their customers and them that is hopefully transparent.
The site is MyStarbucksidea.com and its designed to let customers voice their opinion on what they think is great about Starbucks and what they feel should change. For such a large company this can prove to be a very risky move as the site allows for a free form discussion and commenting. What happened though is the exact opposite because Starbucks engaged its customers, admitting that it had drifted from its core business values and asked for help from the very people that made them a success.
In turn, the site has received thousands of posts, comments, and ideas. Starbucks has even considered implementing some of them right away. The best way to build a customer relationship is to open the communication paths and let the voices of people you do business with be heard.
A brilliant move by Starbucks? I certainly think so, I think that they took a huge risk but in return the enhanced their reputation, built customer loyalty, and by being transparent allowed customers to voice complaints and get feedback on them without any corporate sneakiness.
Every day more and more company’s are looking at reputation management services to no only fix negative visibility on the web but to proactively enhance their reputation, brand, and visibility. While Im not sure if Starbucks had outside consulting to make this move it sure seems that someone new a thing or two about current web trends and the risks and payoffs of making such a move.
I must confess that I visit Coffee Bean allot more than Starbucks ( its just closer to my office, and I’m to lazy to walk far ) but by making this move, and if I see changes implemented because of it could sway me to walk a little farther next time for me coffee.