#CEX #Customerexperience

Bye, Bye, Bye @Starbucks !!

Written by: Kushal Dev | Co-founder, Customer Guru

“You’re not going to be served here. Bye, Bye, Bye,” is what a Starbucks supervisor yelled at customer Ruby Chen.

According to Chen she was pulling up the Starbucks app when the supervisor asked for her name. The supervisor may have felt that Chen was browsing while she was trying to serve her and many others in the queue behind Chen which triggered the rant.

The supervisor accused Chen of stealing, threatened to call the cops and denied to serve Chen or allow her to make a payment. This wild rant might have stemmed from a misunderstanding but it got her fired.

Customer Experience

Taken from Facebook

Starbucks got in touch with Chen to explain the situation and update the action taken.

“The district manager Alexis emailed me last night wishing to apologize over the phone. I called her this morning as of 5/15/2015. Ms. Alexis sincerely apologized, clarified that Melissa is the shift supervisor although she claimed she is a manger, and Melissa is no longer working for Starbucks. Ms. Alexis confirmed that leadership team would do everything to prevent terrible customer service of this kind from happening ever again and asked me not to consider this as their usual standard. At the end, she offered me $100 gift card and ensured they take it very seriously.”

Starbucks invested so much in “firefighting” and also offered a $100 gift card but is there something that they could have done better? Is firing the supervisor just an easy escape and face saving exercise?

There are some important lessons to be learnt here.


  • Hire right – Service with a smile is inherent nature. It’s not something which can be taught and expected to be delivered. It important that you hire people that are happy and then provide a work culture which allows them to continue to be happy.
  • Train to enhance – It’s possible to attain a skill or be born with it, but it’s equally important that you regularly brush it up and put to practise to retain the skill. If you will, the woodcutter needs to sharpen the axe to be efficient.
  • Keep it Happy!  – A happy work environment is key to happy employees, and happy employees to happy customers. Don’t wait for your annual shareholders meeting to recognize good work and appreciate employees, make it a daily affair. Empower them, encourage them and help them grow. Authority, growth and success are emotions that drive human motivation.
  • Be sensitive – Your employees are humans and they have needs. Don’t follow a script and be the strict taskmaster always. Mistakes can be genuine, you need to understand the cause and address it. Nervous breakdown can happen to anyone. For a near and dear one would you listen to what is bothering them and help them address it or just FIRE them?


If the measure of your business success is increase in shareholder value at any cost then you should rethink. You can deliver good returns to your shareholders only when your employees are happy to continue working for you and your customers are happy doing business with you.

Would love to hear your comments, thoughts and ideas.

Reach me at kushal@customerguru.in