Research into Customer Service at a Branch of Starbucks

This assignment looks at research of a popular Starbucks coffee retailer based in a busy area of Blackburn. The manager of the store has requested research to be carried out following a number of recent complaints. The store is a franchise Starbucks store owned by Eurogarages which is a well established company and has opened four Starbucks stores so far, three of which are Drive thru Starbucks. The Blackburn Beehive store is a Drive thru and is their busiest store as it is located in the centre of a large business park and the Royal Blackburn Hospital is also situated in the area.

The store has received a number of recent complaints regarding the standard of service, a number of comments that the service is very slow, customers have received the wrong drinks through the drive thru and drinks that are supposed to have been hot have been given to customer’s cold. Customers have also returned drinks to the store and claimed that they have been half full. They have also received some negative feedback and scored low from the recent mystery shoppers. The first essential part of research was finding out what exactly it is that Starbucks prides itself in.

In order to carry out further research into the Starbucks Blackburn store and find out if the store is meeting the correct service standard and quality of drinks compared with the standards and quality that the Starbucks brand strive to maintain. The Starbucks mission statement is shown in appendices 1 and shows that Starbucks aims to source their coffee ethically and maintain the quality. It is shown that they aim to recruit passionate staff and have a friendly working environment.

Staff are supposed to “connect and engage with customers” and customers should receive the correct beverage made in the correct way every time. The store is supposed to be somewhere where customers can relax and feel welcome and at their own pace “Enjoyment at the speed of life, sometimes slow and savoured, sometimes faster” (Starbucks mission statement). This mission statement has been useful in highlighting the standards which are expected from the Starbucks Blackburn store and can be used as a template to see if the store is meeting the required standards regarding quality and service.

Customer questionnaires Questionnaires were designed to get an idea of why the customers choose Starbucks over other coffee retailers and whether the customers were happy with the standards of service and the quality of drinks which they receive. A number of customers in store were asked to complete the Questionnaires and were asked to be completely honest. The information received from these questionnaires has given an insight into where it is that Starbucks Blackburn are going wrong and where there is room for improvement.

The questionnaires are shown in Appendices 2. The information generated from the questionnaires was then taken and the results have been displayed in the following pie charts to make it easier to analyse the data. Displaying the information in pie charts makes the information readily available in a format which is easy to view and where the percentage of each of the answers is shown clearly for each questions asked. The data has given a good insight into repeat customers and general customer satisfaction.

Pie chart 1 shows that 63% of the customers that filled in the questionnaires visit the store often which shows that the store gets quite a lot of repeat custom. Pie chart 2 shows that 37% choose Starbucks Blackburn for convenience which shows that it is set in a good location and 33% said they chose it for quality however only 12% said that they chose to go to Starbucks for the standard of service which shows there is room for improvement.

Pie chart 3 shows that only 4% of the customers thought that the service they received at Starbucks was poor, 35% of the customers asked thought the service was excellent and 35% thought the service was good. However 31% of customers asked thought the service they received was average which shows that the service is not always meeting the starbucks legendary standards and exceeding customer expectations.

Pie chart 4 shows that the drinks standards are met 75% of the time however 25% of the time the drinks standards are only met rarely or occasionally. This also shows that there is room for improvement as customers should be getting what they pay for 100% of the time. Pie chart 5 was useful in highlighting that the speed of service needs to be improved as only 21% of customers asked said that the service was fast. The rest of the customers thought that the service was either average, slow and 21% of customers thought that the service was very slow.

Pie chart 6 shows that only 50% customers felt that they were always made to feel welcome in the store this suggests that Starbucks Blackburn are not fulfilling the Starbucks mission to “create a sense of belonging” as shown in the mission statement in appendices 1. Pie chart 7 shows that only 38% of customers felt that they can sit and relax in store which again suggests that Starbucks Blackburn is not fulfilling the Starbucks mission to “create a haven, a break from the world outside” which is again shown in the mission statement in appendices 1.

Pie chart 8 shows that 79% of customers asked would choose Starbucks over other coffee retailers this is positive and shows that despite having a few issues customers would still choose Starbucks. However, it is the 21% of customers that say that they would not choose Starbucks in future which shows something needs to be done in order to retain their custom. Interview questions (other coffee retailers) Interviewing members of management from other coffee retailers gives an insight to whether other stores are facing similar problems and how they tackle these problems.

The information in appendices 3 in the interview carried out with the assistant manager from Cafe Nero shows that they also receive complaints regarding the quality of the coffee and the standard of service that the customers receive. It also highlights that they have previously received complaints about the cleanliness of the store regarding the toilets. They tackle the complaints by trying to resolve the matter in store and area managers over see that these problems are corrected. It’s shown that baristas are trained in store and go to training days and complete a skills book.

The way in which Cafe Nero educates their customers regarding the drinks they offer involves leaflets in store and from menu boards and advertising. An interview with the manager from a Costs store was also useful and again highlighted that they also have received complaints regarding quality. This interview did not highlight as much information regarding Costa as the interview had to be done quickly as the store was very busy. However the information was still useful in highlighting there training procedures involving hands on and workbook based training for a period of 3-4 months.

It was also useful in understanding how they communicate the quality and content of the drinks through TV advertising, information leaflets and material in store. Finally an interview was carried out with the assistant manager of a different Starbucks store in order to compare the standards of a non franchise store and to see if they also receive similar complaints. This was an extremely beneficial interview as it highlighted lots of information regarding a different Starbucks store in which should have the same policies and views with regards to quality and standards as the Starbucks Blackburn store.

Interestingly as with Costa and Cafe Nero the Starbucks Wrexham store also receives complaints regarding beverage standards, the cleanliness of the store and as with Starbucks Blackburn they receive complaints about the speed of service. Starbucks communicate the beverage information through menu boards, the website and through members of staff in store but unlike Costa they do not take advantage of TV advertising. It has been clearly shown from these interviews that Starbucks Blackburn is not the only store to have issues regarding quality and service and it appears that it is a problem that other stores are also targeting.