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Starbucks Quietly Made a Change Customers Hated

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Starbucks Quietly Made a Change Customers Hated

(CTN News) – Starbucks handled the cholera pandemic better than anyone. In the years before the pandemic, former CEO Kevin Johnson focused on refining operations and building out technology.

It turned out that decision — which Howard Schultz didn’t like — was prescient when the company had to close its dining rooms and switch to a drive-through, delivery, and curbside pickup model. Johnson’s efforts gave the company the infrastructure to make that change pretty smoothly (Schultz wanted to focus on building out the brand’s premium offerings).

Starbucks kept some rules in place during the height of the pandemic, even as dining rooms opened. Many stores still have indoor seating with social distance even after most states stopped requiring it.

Even after Starbucks opened its dining room, it closed its condiment bar. There used to be a selection of milks and sugar/sweeteners so you could customize your coffee.

When COVID was an issue, it made sense to remove the condiment bar since people touched milk and sugar. Since everything in society is back to normal, Starbucks hasn’t brought back the condiment bar.

Starbucks makes it more difficult for customers

The Starbucks app lets you customize your drink a lot. It’s easy to order your coffee or tea exactly how you want it. The problem is that how much milk or sugar/sweetener you want in your coffee is really a to-taste thing that might change depending on the day or your mood.

Under the old system, customers could add a touch more milk or sugar or even order their drink black. The condiment bar closed, so now you have to ask for them from the barista, which is awkward, especially if you want them after you get your drink.

If that happens, you have to awkwardly try to get someone’s attention. That’s difficult when a store is busy because employees move right on to the next order.

However, once you get someone’s attention, the problem persists. It’s easy to find sweetener packets (as long as you know which color is which), but getting milk is difficult because the chain doesn’t have a cup. If you just want a spot of cream or 2%, you’ll find it in a “short” cup, which may have way more than you need.

There’s a big Starbucks problem with a small customer complaint

It’s a small thing, but it’s part of a wider shift at Starbucks. Simplicity and efficiency have taken precedence over maintaining a classic cafe vibe.

Starbucks locations are well-oiled machines that rely heavily on technology. It’s often a positive for customers, but not at the condiment bar. In that case, the chain has opted to eliminate labor from its process at the expense of customer service.

Chains always have trouble maintaining condiment bars. Often, there was a mess because one type of milk (or more) was missing. Although it’s understandable why the company would want to eliminate that hassle, and how it might save money, it’s a poor choice.

Technology solves a lot of problems, and Starbucks has the most effective app. However, some problems cannot be solved digitally. People don’t take their coffee exactly the same way. Bring back Starbucks’ condiments.

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