A Starbucks barista sent this objection to the "skinny platform" to the corporate bosses. She tells them: "At the risk of being reprimanded for insubordination, I will not be following this new method for calling and marking." The "skinny" drinks debut this week.
My name is xxxxxxx and I currently work at store number xxxx in NY. I am a barista. At the beginning of January, I know that we are to begin using a "Skinny platform" for calling drinks, as well as marking cups. I would like to say that I think this decision is a poor one, and, at the risk of being reprimanded for insubordination, I will not be following this new method for calling and marking. I feel as though there are several flaws that will cause confusion, frustration and, potentially, a waste of product and time for partners, and far worse, alienate both partners and Starbucks customers. I've composed a detailed list of problems that can and, more than likely will, arise from the "Skinny platform.
1) We have been trained since day one to follow a specific method of drink calling/marking. Changing it up now will cause FAR too much confusion. For all stores, high volume stores in particular, this can severely impact speed-of-service, drink quality, customer satisfaction, labor, and product usage. Miscommunication between customers and partners, partners calling drinks and partners making drinks, and partners making drinks calling the drinks to the customers waiting to receive their drinks will inevitably lead to drinks having to be discarded after being made, customers becoming angry and impatient, assuming it is employee incompetence that is behind errors, and partners become frustrated and angry at one another after having customers criticize and yell at them. Customers will not want to come to stores where they have had such negative experiences, and coming into work will become something that partners dread as opposed to look forward to. Furthermore, from a financial perspective, the amount of product wasted could impact profits to the company, and time wasted making and then remaking drinks will affect labor hours at all stores.
2) Customers already find it difficult and confusing to order drinks at Starbucks. After spending the time to remember exactly how to order their favorite drink to make things easier for baristas, and maybe even impress us, to have things changed in such a drastic way can upset customers and make things even more confusing. People have spent so much time trying to figure out just how to order a drink at Starbucks, why change things so dramatically. It also allows for a HUGE margin of error. A "Skinny" drink is a drink made with sugar-free syrup, non-fat milk, and no whipped cream. Unless this is CLEARLY spelled out for customers, people will ask for a "Skinny" drink without really knowing what they're asking for. People may want sugar-free syrup but 2% milk, or non-fat milk but still have the whipped cream, or any number of other combinations that are NOT "Skinny" according to the recipe, but are still modified in a "Skinny" fashion. Moreover, partners who have been with the company for an extended period of time have grown used to the current procedure. We have gone through the process of learning how to call the drinks, and how to listen to customers struggle to ask us for everything they want in their drink, and translate the order into correct format. This change will throw partners off and, once again, lead to frustration and mistakes. Why complicate a system that, for the most part, works?
3) It is politically incorrect. Should we start calling drinks with 2% or whole milk and regular syrups "Fat" or "Obese?" Consider what customers on line waiting for their turn to order their drink will think if they hear the drink before them being called out as "Skinny." It leaves the door open for the next person on line to be offended. Additionally, the word "skinny" itself can have many different interpretations, not all of which are positive. In today's society, the term "skinny" often refers to a person who is considered TOO thin or unhealthy looking. People will not want to order a drink with a name that they associate with an unhealthy appearance.
4) The fact cannot be disputed that in society today, people are just waiting for an opportunity to sue major corporations. Without question, people will be leaping at the opportunity file a lawsuit against thefor discrimination. In this country, statistics show that more than two thirds of the population is overweight or obese. Calling a drink "Skinny" could easily be considered a form of size discrimination. This is not exclusive to people who are overweight as a result of their lifestyle or eating habits. There are a number of medical maladies that result in people becoming overweight regardless of eating habits or how they live their lives. Whether the corporation cares to recognize the fact or not, Starbucks is a target by society and there are a lot of people who would love to bring it down. This is just giving them the means to do so. Regardless of whether these people are justified in their claims, it is foolish to believe that people will not use this for their own gains.
5) Aside from customers who do not fit societies standards of "skinny," there are partners that are employed by Starbucks who are "overweight," and it is ridiculous to think otherwise. Imagine going to work for several hours at a time, and hearing the term "skinny" being called out countless times. It will undoubtedly have a negative affect on a person's self-esteem that may already be low from living in a society that is generally not accepting of people who do not fit the mold of a "beautiful" person. It creates an environment that people will not want to be in. It will exacerbate self-image issues that partners of ANY size may have. Why would ANYONE want to go into a store where they will hear potentially hurtful terms called out repeatedly with no regard as to how they may affect people?
I have no doubt that there is no malicious intent with "Skinny" platform. I'm sure that it is intended to make our jobs easier, and maybe show the public that Starbucks has options that can eliminate many of the calories and fat in the drinks we serve. Maybe it is even an attempt to use a different kind of lingo that could be considered hip or exciting. But the problems I have brought up cannot be ignored. They are real, and they will affect every single Starbucks that implements this system. As a company that is a part of the service industry, you are alienating customers and employees, and there will be repercussions. On a deeper level, this in essence goes against every one of our six guiding principles in one way or another.
I am not the only employee of this company who holds this opinion. I have yet to come across a single partner in any store who thinks that this is a good idea. There are several policies Starbucks enforces that I do not necessarily agree with, but this is one that I refuse to adhere to, and I will not let this be something that I complain about to coworkers and do nothing about. I am speaking on behalf of myself, and any partner who shares my beliefs but has decided not to voice their opinion. I love my job. It is a part of my life that brings me joy and makes me feel as though I am making people happy. It is for that reason that I believe this "Skinny" platform is a policy that, if nothing else, should be reconsidered by the company, if not completely eliminated. I will accept any consequences that I may face for not following this policy, but I would hope that it does not come to that.
The "Skinny" platform is not legendary.
I thank you for your time and hope that you will consider all that I have said.