Believe it or not, Starbucks has made itself known in the social media world by launching MyStarbucksIdea, an online community site where customers can share their thoughts and opinions on how Starbucks can improve. Customers can log in and share their own suggestions or vote on what others have posted. Topics range from product offerings to the Starbucks experience to social responsibility.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Starbucks team of “Idea Partners” respond and act upon customers’ ideas. The site encourages visitors to check out their “Ideas in Action” blog for updates on how they’ve progressed with bringing to life people’s ideas. Many have already voted. Currently, the most popular vote is to implement a punch card program so that after a certain set number of drinks one can receive a freebie. Perhaps the Starbucks Duetto Visa card, their current rewards program–basically a hybrid of a credit card and a Starbucks card–just isn’t doing it for them.
I admire their decision to dabble in unfamiliar territory and open the communication pathways with their customers. It shows they care about what their customers think and are at least willing to listen to them. You may recall Dell’s similar move with Ideastorm.
I am no expert in social media and online communities, but I would think it’s a pretty risky move for Starbucks, or for any business new to social media, to put themselves in such a vulnerable position. This is a lot different than the old fashioned “suggestion box,” which was much more privately controlled. MyStarbucksIdea allows practically anyone to share and even vote on a way to improve Starbucks. So what happens if they don’t like what they read? How far are they willing to change the way they do things to satisfy the majority of customers? Though it’s too early to tell how successful this will be, I’m just hoping Starbucks keeps an open mind.