Starbucks Customer Appreciation II: How To Make It Better And STILL Pinch Pennies

in On Entrepreneurship

Yesterday I wrote about When Penny-Pinching Defeats Customer Appreciation – A Starbucks Tale of Marketing Woe. Interesting comments and discussion ensued, and I want to add another thought… and a suggestion for how this could have been a knock-em-dead promotion and STILL pinch pennies.

One of the tried and true methods of closing a sale is the alternative close.

“Mr. Jones, are you thinking of going with the red or the black convertable?”

The magic is in getting the prospect to stop thinking in terms of whether they want what you have to offer or not, and to shift their thoughts to choosing between multiple options… all of which you are happy with.

How does this relate to the Starbucks tale?

They reversed the process!

Having felt good about what was happening, and being pleased I was getting a “freebie”, I suddenly faced the option of getting what I wanted (my usual drink) OR getting something I didn’t want (a drink that is too small to last till I make it out the door) but could have for free. Yes, a very “small thing” … that triggers a massive mental shift.

Let’s trace the steps. grin

  • I have a good feeling AND I get a drink I want free
  • I realize the free drink wasn’t what I thought (Anyone else wonder why they didn’t write TALL instead of 12oz on the paper when they’d use TALL anywhere else? I did.)
  • I’m now forced to decide between:
    1: Getting a drink I don’t want b/c it is too small
    2: Getting the drink I want and tossing the freebie coupon
    3: Getting two drinks so I can have what I want and make use of the coupon

No matter what I choose there is a sense of disappointment. Yes, it is small. Yes, if I weren’t a hardcore marketing geek and student of the human condition I might not even notice the negative shift engineered into the gift.

Once the shift was made from feeling good to thinking about 3 alternatives none of which I particularly like, the nice effect from the gesture was… at a minimum… diminished. Simple state shift as my focus was redirected.

What could they have done differently to make this a knock-em-out-of-the-park gesture and STILL pinch pennies?

Whoever chose and wrote my name also knows my favorite drink. They could have skipped the corporate coupon and hand-written the following inside the card:

“Hey Michael, your next latte is on us!”
- Barista(s) name

It now is a BETTER promotion. The thank you and appreciation are more personal. My relationship is with my local baristas much more so than Starbucks the corporate giant, so the additional personal nature only strengthens the relationship much more. The company doesn’t have to print and track the coupons. And, of course, I get my grande latte.

(Starbucks: I usually refuse to invoice, but in this case, it is in the mail. grin )

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anonymous December 14, 2005 at 10:12 am

I have to agree with CoffeePundit. This time you are reacting in an excessively complicated way. Enjoy your small drink or ask for a bigger one. It’s not such a big deal. Really.
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2 Anonymous December 14, 2005 at 3:12 pm

I have to agree with CoffeePundit. This time you are reacting in an excessively complicated way. Enjoy your small drink or ask for a bigger one. It’s not such a big deal. Really.——-

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3 Anonymous April 3, 2004 at 8:04 pm

Michael, I love Starbucks too! I think you’re making this freebee offer way too complicated. I would suggest a a 4th alternative that I use all the time. Simply ask your friendly Barista that you would like to “upgrade” your free “Tall” to a “Grande” or “Venti”. Now pause a second and wait. You’re of course willing to pay for the upgrade, but if they’re like the fine Baristas/and cash terminals that I’ve dealt with they’ll come back and say “no charge” for the upgrade. Superior customer service strikes again. While I’m not guaranteeing this, suggest you give it a shot. Note: I don’t have my “coffeepundit.com” site up and running yet but hopefully soon so I can wax poetic about Starbucks.

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4 Anonymous April 4, 2004 at 1:04 am

Michael, I love Starbucks too! I think you’re making this freebee offer way too complicated. I would suggest a a 4th alternative that I use all the time. Simply ask your friendly Barista that you would like to “upgrade” your free “Tall” to a “Grande” or “Venti”. Now pause a second and wait. You’re of course willing to pay for the upgrade, but if they’re like the fine Baristas/and cash terminals that I’ve dealt with they’ll come back and say “no charge” for the upgrade. Superior customer service strikes again. While I’m not guaranteeing this, suggest you give it a shot. Note: I don’t have my “coffeepundit.com” site up and running yet but hopefully soon so I can wax poetic about Starbucks.

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