We are on first name terms at Starbucks
It is hard work convincing the customer you care. You have to care. If you really do care it shows. You don't need gimmicks and rounds of intense customer focus groups to tell you that.
The recent news sheets have been covered with stories of Starbucks latest attempt to personalise their service. But does it in fact only prove that big brands can't be personal?
The idea was to appear more friendly by writing your name on your cup of tall caramel macchiato or that venti mocha light frappuccino. "From now on, we won't refer to you as a 'latte' or a 'mocha', but instead as your folks intended: by your name," the coffee chain claims.
The basic idea is a good one and very practical. "When a barista calls 'latte', sometimes 20 people might think 'is that mine?' "If they call my name, I'll know when my coffee is ready."
However writing Arthur (or Arfhur, or even arrfur) on my cup doesn't make my Starbucks experience feel any more personal.
Unfortunately this latest piece of customer engagement has quickly gone pear-shaped. It started with Stabucks giving away free lattes in exchange for customers giving the barista their first name and continued with Starbucks staff still happily writing customer names on cups but with frequent misspellings leading to a host of spoof starbucks names sites springing up like http://whatsmynamestarbucks.blogspot.co.uk/, http://starbucksspelling.tumblr.com
A prime example of an idea spoilt because someone had not thought the potential problems through, culminating in negative publicity.