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February 26, 2008

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Shift Super

What was the busiest day?

STARBUCKS GOSSIP WEBMASTER

The Monday after the Wall Street Journal reported (on a late Friday afternoon) that the Howard Schultz memo was leaked to this website. It was just over a year ago.

Aaron

Publicity stunt was one of my first reactions when I heard about it. Sure, a lot of baristas could use the training. I have to say I'm kind of glad that they're getting it. I think it will help. But why close all the stores at the same time? Because it will make all the news papers. On a slow news day it could even make the front page. And perceptions can be more important than reality. Now everyone will know we were closed for training, and that we're supposedly better now. And by everyone, I include investors. I think the sudden, drastic way all these changes are being made is as important as what the changes are. Howard, execs, and the board, want to change the company, and they want customers and investors to KNOW they're changing the company.

michael

haha. I've been hearing this all day.
"MIKE STARBUCKS IS CLOSED TONIGHT. SUCKS FOR YOU."
(everyone knows I'm an addict).

But, Eh. I fail to see how come everyone is making a oh-so-big deal of it.

But, Lately, I have been noticing the starbucks I frequent the most, has been getting some new staff members.

And, My latte comes to $4.60.
I've been charged $4.17 - They forgot to calculate a pump. :x
And, they're constantly thinking I say "hot" when I scream "ICED".
So. WHO KNOWS. Maybe there was a global hiring (of total idiots, seriously) and they want to train 'em?
... Or perhaps it's just my starbucks.

.. and, I'll stop rambling now.

amberbarista

I am an employee and our store loves our customers, but training is always good and were ready!!! GOsanfrancisco!!!

Maybe now I will actually get some foam on my latte. I don't even want extra foam...just the "cap" of foam that is supposed to be on it to begin with!!

Is it just me, or is there something...you know....wrong...about the nation's (world's?!?) largest coffee supplier having to shut down all stores to TEACH EMPLOYEES HOW TO MAKE COFFEE.

What the hell have I been drinking all these years...and why didn't coffee servers (can you be a barista if you don't know how to make coffee?) get trained when they came on...

Oh, wait, I just got a memo that they are closing the OR at the local hospitals for three hours so the anesthesiologists can get trained on pushing meds. I best be off.

Sheik

There's going to be a news story on ABC World News Tonight. In the next few minutes! Tune in FAST!

Carrie

I'm glad for this. I've been drinking the same exact drink everyday for about 3 years now and I know when it tastes "off" usually because of a missing 3rd shot. The color is a lot lighter and I can barely taste the espresso. The misses have become more frequent in the store I go to daily and lately, the Barrista's have an attitude about adding the 3rd shot. Come'on folks, I've drunk over a thousand of these in the past 3 years, I know when it's wrong.

Melanie

I definitely agree with Aaron. That's certainly the most logical conclusion. It could go in two directions:
1) "Oh, they're better! Maybe I'll give Starbucks another try."
2) "Really? They have to teach their employees how to pull shots? REALLY?"

We'll see!

When/If I go into a Starbucks tomorrow I am going to ask for a refund for the sub-par coffee for which I have been paying full price for the past year or so. :-).

bill

Who the hell cares - Starbucks doesn't hold a candle to a good martini. I hope this teaches them a good marketing lesson - "don't f..k with my mind"

Bellevue Shift

Just saw a report on Fox News and the "on site reporter" Tracy Byrnes, said...and I quote "nobody is doing anything right". Great reporting Tracy, well done. *smashing TV before heading to my meeting*

Is it just me, or is there something...you know....wrong...about the nation's (world's?!?) largest coffee supplier having to shut down all stores to TEACH EMPLOYEES HOW TO MAKE COFFEE.

What the hell have I been drinking all these years...and why didn't coffee servers (can you be a barista if you don't know how to make coffee?) get trained when they came on...

Oh, wait, I just got a memo that they are closing the OR at the local hospitals for three hours so the anesthesiologists can get trained on pushing meds. I best be off.

Totally. Agree. Seriously.

For a bunch of people who PREACH about being a coffeehouse to the core, the company has to shut down EVERY SINGLE ONE of its stores for training on how to make coffee? Not so much about the coffee now. Doubt you all will be tomorrow AM, either.

Anonymous makes a great point here. They don't shut down McDonalds for training, or even, it seems Dunkin' Donuts. Training is done, you know, when you first start and then continuously onward.

This "hard reset" in the training of Starbucks' employees is just another very LARGE indication of the poor customer service Starbucks still needs to work out. This training, as many have said, should have been handled professionally and with EXTREMELY MINIMAL impact on the customer. The training should have occurred before or after the store's regular business hours. This smacks of the continuing entitlement issues Starbucks has that, frankly, puts off the customer.

(...and for those of you who ask would a customer work at 1:30 AM? No. But that's why I'm a customer and you're the help. Plain and simple. I don't have to, and neither do you, but you should have to. Yet, that's another issue.)

My only thought left is how many customers will get a new coffeehouse experience because you all closed your doors? It'll be more than one, and those are dollars that should have been sales. Those missing sales are hurting the investors.

So, Starbucks is in the business of serving itself first and then the customer/ investor. Clearly a very backward mentality here.

Hayley

I (a customer) for one, since it does not seem to be the majority on this thread, applaud this training!!
I think it's wonderful...and also to comment on a previous thread where some baristas got bashed all day by customers making jokes or remarks about the training. I sympathize with you and I hope you were able to let it roll off your back! I hope you just smiled and quietly thought to yourself where they could shove that drink! :)
Good Luck and I look forward to stopping in tomorrow for my beverage!

On a side note...are there any baristas or SMs on here from Tucson, AZ??

I Heart SBUX

Seriously..to ANON at 4:24, why don't you just start signing your posts "Hate the Help" that way I can see it's you before I read your ridiculous posting, you are probably the same person that came into my California store the other day and demanded the $1.00 coffee and when I informed you that I would do it for you this time but that in the future it would be regular price, you informed me that I needed to call Seattle and find out how to do my job correctly. Um...yeah, trust me, if I was supposed to be offering the $1 coffee there would be a button on my register..and I don't have to call Seattle to figure that out. Don't worry, I just said yes with a nice big smile on my face.
Anyway, I digress. I am one of many partners that think this training is the best thing to happen. It's not a retraining because we don't know what we are doing. It's more of a change in the way we were doing things. A way to do things better. How can that be bad?? If you can't go for three hours without your coffee, by all means, try another coffee shop or hit up one of the grocery store locations, I'm truly sorry if this inconveniences you and hope that you will come in tomorrow so that I can show you how much three hours of learning "how to push a button" has improved your drink.

I HEART SBUX

Thanks for the support Hayley! It's people like you that make my job as fun and awesome as it is.

cappuccino charlie

I don't get it, I really don't get it. Starbucks used to time their shots; now they just press a button. And for this they need more training? Just get back to making good espresso and quit the formulatic, calculating, "3rd place", push-button bullcrap.

Ace

This whole thing was a giant PR stunt period! No bar/restaurant/coffee chain in its right mind ceases operation during business hours to re-train staff and boasts about it unless they want to create buzz. The question is (as many are pointing out) what kind of buzz does it create..good or bad? I say to Howard, get the staff back behind the damn counter and make coffee.

 barista jack

Is'nt it interesting , how many people complain, how rude we are, overpriced,the crappy lattes that a monkey can make and dont compare to independant coffee shops. are all up in arms because we are going to be closed for 3 hours, in order to better serve them, all they choose to hear is "training", and all they just assume is we should be trained,,ever heard of sharpening your skills, breaking bad habits, in order just to do better job, some people are just miserable.it must be hard for you being perfect.we dont need customers like that, maybe another coffee shop will

Hayley

Thank you, I do support the baristas!

Here is my thoughts: First of all, I agree with B-Jack; there are going to be those chronic complainers that no matter what you do or say it will never be good enough.

These are the same customers who complain about how their drinks are always wrong or horrible...well how else do you propose an immediate, company wide solution on improving your beverage and experience??
For all the customers who complain on here about the education and inconvenience, I have not seen a SINGLE suggestion on a better way they could have implemented it!!! They can complain but cannot provide a constructive solution and that makes me upset for all the poor baristas who had to put up with the commentary.

And I agree that not every barista needs this training, the flip side to what I believe it is beneficial for is:
To allow those coffee masters or those baristas who have the art down, an opportunity to encourage and support the other baristas who are not properly educated or stubborn and think the wrong way is right.
Not every partner is doing their job wrong and I also feel bad that it gets presented that way!

Anon

Seriously, do you see something a little fishy here. iTunes just released today a MASSIVE update to all iPhone users to 1.1.4 coordinating with the massive 3hr shut down of operations.

BarisTundra

Barista Jack:

with respect to the "don't compare to independent coffee shops" comments...

I'm used to drinking straight-shot espresso, I have some nice equipment at home ( $1500 espresso machine & grinder combo ), and I home roast beans.

One day I decided to go on a "horrors of espresso" tour and see if there were any decent coffeeshops around worth visiting on occasion. Every single one of them poured disgusting shots made from beans that had been sitting in the doser for lord knows how long, 5 second shots with no crema... one girl told me that she didn't tamp because "this machine is new, it doesn't need tamping" (it was a 2-group rancillio classe6... it needs tamping...)

Starbucks was /actually/ the best espresso in town, followed closely by another national chain.

there are indie shops that are better than starbucks, but they're rare gems in a sea of mediocrity

From a regular customer's perspective... despite my excessive addiction to lattes (we're talking 1-4 daily), somehow I've managed to survive 3.5 hours tonight without Starbucks.

Seriously, why are people whining so much? Haven't any of them attended training sessions or seminars or long meetings during work hours? I've been inaccessible for 3.5 hours, and yet the planet kept spinning and my co-workers managed to cope. Starbucks is a flippin' COFFEEHOUSE, it's not like closing a hospital or police station. I'm not going to keel over and die because of skinny hazelnut depletion. (well, probably not)

It's almost time for the EST sessions to end, looking forward to feedback from partners...

average_customer

Publicity stunt, but a good one because it's all over the news. But it also brought attention to starbucks' flaws and the offerings of dunkin' and mcdonalds.

I've been going to starbucks for about 6 years and i like hanging out there (third place, etc.), but lately i've been just as content sitting at home. The chairs in most stores are uncomfortable or dirty and the ambiance is now that of a target. Plus my home smells better.

riverside, ca!

I am another customer who applauds Starbucks for their commitment. I love my baristas in the Riverside, CA area and want to say that you are the best of the best! My day is brightened when I stop by my Starbucks :)

CoffeeMan

The man's a genius. Stock was up the most I've seen in about a year. He made public awareness of a nationwide training session and got an unbelievable amount of publicity. Everyone in my office knew about it and mentioned it to me because they see me with that familiar cup everyday. Now let's hope there's really more to the "training" than the espresso shots.

DT

I think it's more flash than substance. In the end, it's still just pushing a button.

(and this coming from an ex-partner who had ~8yrs of tenure)

I realized in the shower tonight - the lady at the little sandwich shop behind my office with the manual espresso machine is more a barista than the "baristas" at starbucks. (provided she knows how to steam milk)

ncbarista

Anonymous makes a great point here. They don't shut down McDonalds for training, or even, it seems Dunkin' Donuts. Training is done, you know, when you first start and then continuously onward.

Usually, it is. I think part of the point of this is to just say stop! time out and get everyone on the same page. In the time after Howard left and Jim took over, we were expanding at a crazy pace. People hired in the last two years or so might not have received the full training that they should have because growth and speed were being put ahead of service and training and skills.

Many of us already knew everything that was covered in tonight's training. But sometimes, you slip through the cracks if you work in a high volume store and they're understaffed on the day you come in to train. So tonight, we are just checking in with everyone, re-iterating things, sharpening the saw, if you will.

Another point made by a different Anon: the training is inconvenient to the customer and we should do it before or after store hours.
Well, in trying to be as convenient as possible for the customer, many stores open in the wee hours of the morning and are open until the darkest hour of the night. that doesn't leave much time for training. so this minor inconvenience is really borne out of our desire to do as much for you, the customer, as we can. another good reason for closing during operating hours: respect and dignity. core values at sbux. asking people to come it from midnight to 3 am (when openers have to be in by 4 am) does not comport with our core values.
kthx.

verycold

The drip coffee is well known for being bitter. That has nothing to do with training. The heavily dairy based drinks have become popular because they only have a tinge of coffee flavor coupled with other preferred syrups that appeal to a generation or two that are really not "coffee" drinkers. Again nothing really to do with training. Dairy prices are soaring and so everybody can look forward to an increase in price for these fancy drinks or a smaller offering by Starbucks or lesser quality ingredients. The "big" retraining day was not necessary at all and certainly gives the impression that the quality was lacking according to corporate. They could have easily tested each employee's skills at each store during working hours. That is what a manager is for and it is done all the time. That being said it is extremely hard to find employees that do the best job every single day. Many of the employees do not even drink coffee and thus have little incentive to improve their limited skills. I say "limited" because of the production style set-up Starbuck's uses for fairly decent quality and quick service. It is like taking a picture with the camera set at automatic and thus getting a pretty decent picture, or setting the camera to manual and making small adjustments that might get just the perfect picture.

Aaron

"The training should have occurred before or after the store's regular business hours. This smacks of the continuing entitlement issues Starbucks has that, frankly, puts off the customer."

Some stores are open 24 hours. My store would have to use almost its entire after hours time to do this. Come in at 1 AM and after closing, or then open at 4:30? No thanks. I feel entitled because I want to have reasonable hours? I'm the one that's unreasonable? You're the one complaining because you can't go to your starbucks for a measly 3 hours. Nearly every coffee shop around the country (like dunkin) is jumping at the chance to steal you from us. Go there. I really don't mind. If you come back, great. I really truly do appreciate that you don't think anyone else compares. If you find they're better, well then, maybe that shows why this was needed. Oh yeah, and like I said, publicity stunt. Still, even if closing all stores could have been avoided, it's not the end of the world. Quit complaining, please.

And starbucks has entitlement issues? I thought it was our customers. We ask them to feel entitled at every opportunity. We beg them to. We thrive on it. We thrive on the sense of belonging that having a really complicated drink gives people for whatever reason. Most of them really aren't that bad. They're nice about it and appreciate it. But sometimes it does bite us in the ass. Oh well. But honestly? Starbucks has a sense of entitlement? If we did, we wouldn't be doing this training. We would just make mediocre drinks and feel entitled to your business all the same. You may notice that some people are really, REALLY excited about Howard Shultz being back in charge. That's because anyone who knows much about him knows he actually gives a shit about really damn good coffee. Yeah, of course he wants to make money. But he's not trying to do it the way we have been for the past several years, by constantly adding more and more products, more and more stores. He wants to start with good. coffee. Then you grow by adding other products, and more stores, making sure you don't outpace yourself. Bah. I'm rambling now.

Northern Latte

I've just returned home from my stores espresso excellence training and I feel that as a whole we are re-energized and more passionate mostly about customer care. I really liked the team commintments at the end for us to hold one another accountable and this as much better then other store meetings because we got to move around the store as groups and we had fun! It's snowing like crazy here to only about 10 customers even came to our door. Our manager went over to each one and explained what was going on and gave then service recovery coupons to use later.

Joe

When Starbucks was at its peak, it was truly the mind-share leader in quality coffee in the US and in the world.

Not so anymore.

The press continues to cover the rise of the quality-focused independent coffee shop. The Specialty Coffee Association of America and the World Barista Championship, among other entities, have raised the quality-bar out of reach of even a small regional chain, much less a multinational like Starbucks.

Quality-focused artisan roasters like Counter Culture, Intelligentsia, Stumptown, Terroir, Batdorf & Bronson, 49th Parallel, and others, are leading the quality-end of the industry.

Starbucks could create a "Lexus-like" up-market brand to help maintain industry leadership, but that's unlikely... that would undermine their core brand and give it a lower status.

Lead, follow, or get out of the way. It's gonna be a tough few years for Big Green.

Neevan

Just got back from my meeting, and I have to tell you, it was great. We went over what we needed to: espresso quality, milk quality, and customer care.

We had a couple customers come and try to get in, but we gave them a sample of Colombia Narino Supremo and a customer recovery coupon. They didn't seem too aggravated.

Beth

Soo, I just got back from my meeting.
It was amazing. I feel inspired in every way.
I hope other baristas feel the same.

FLASM

Ours went great as well. It's funny that we spent all this time recommitting to providing a great experience for our customers and they're complaining about it. But - such is life.

I'm excited about the new beverage standards and the enthusiasm of my team in upholding them.

Honestly, I really didn't learn anything new personally. I've never used to resteam milk nor did I ever let it sit on the counter even if it was within temperature range. When we went through our training on how to steam milk, it looked like everyone understood what proper foam should be.

But when we took turns practicing with each other as customers, half the baristas were back to making way too large bubbles. Our ASM let the shot sit for 40 seconds as she steamed the milk. Woopie.

At least the training ended to the warm reception of our customers. First customer in the door said "I guess you guys forgot you're supposed to open at 9". The time was 9:01.

eleanor abernathy

DT--why were you thinking about the sandwich shop lady in the shower? Thanks for the info. :)

Douche who said Starbucks is serving themselves by closing during regular business hours--I'd hardly say that sacrificing all of those sales to retrain the "help" is self-serving.

And yeah, the employees could make the sacrifice and come in at 1 A.M for training, but that would exclude many, many employees who are under 18 and are prohibited by their states' laws from working that late. It just wouldn't be practical; the idea here is to get every single employee up to speed.

I think this is Howie's way of showing everyone that he means business.

Kathy

to ANON at the way top:
we already know how to make drinks. Most of the meeting was a refresher and handled customer care. The meeting was more about how to kindly serve ignorant customers like you. We're a coffee shop, not an OR, its a litttttle bit different.

I think the fact that Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds don't do ongoing training is exactly their problem. That's why the aren't good at their jobs

TurboSpaz

I just got home from the training session and I have to say it was great. It put us all on the same page and let all of us know that the standards have been raised and we WILL be held accountable for it. Not everyone remembers it. This meeting wasn't to teach us how to make coffee and thats what a lot of people are missing. This was about making the BEST cup we can EVERYTIME, no exceptions. It was about how to give you customers what you pay for and more. Not to mention it laid down some new guidelines to make sure that if the customer does not get what THEY think is the perfect cup of coffee WE WILL MAKE IT UNTIL YOU ARE SATISFIED. We learned the vision of Howard and what he expects of us as a whole company so that not just some stores but ALL of them are doing the best everytime. I personally thought it was informative and helpful, especially to the new hires in our store who don't know yet what they need to do and reminded all of us how to provide our customers with a place they want to be. To be perfectly honest with you I think that there are a lot of baristas out there (and if you have read some of thier posts you know what I'm talking about) that we are not only in the coffee business but also the PEOPLE business.

Peaches

poke fun if you must, but I found out where the power button is on the verisimos for the first time tonight.

Our training was great. No, it wasn't anything terribly ground breaking. Just a re-focusing and a renewal of the expectations. And a nice parter bonding time. Seriously, I love my co-workers.

Annnd I might have drank 10 shots (of espresso)

We had about 10 potential customers try to come in. Most of them read the signs and walked away. One guy stood there for a long time and looked irate.

All in all, it was a positive night.

BOSTON STARBUCKS REBEL

Our training went well. We enjoyed the videos. Most of the time we were just standing around.

C

I am an assist manager and helped run the meeting tonight. It was received very well. Our team for one is recommitted to our customers and know that we mean business. I wouldn't say it was so much a retraining of how to "make drinks," but letting everyone know that after today accountability is number 1. Customers did not seem too bothered, though the weather is bad where I am. I am excited to light the fire of passion in our teams. Most thought of it as inspirational; I did too.

Kittymoose

It was more motivation than training.

We had this one guy refuse to leave after we'd kindly explained that ALL the starbucks locations were closed for the evening and gave him a service recovery coupon. He literally shoved the barista at the door, barged in, and DEMANDED a cup of sumatra. It took us maybe five minutes to get him to go away.

rawrrr barista

our training really got us fired up and ready to serve the customers to the very best of our ability.

sure we got trained when we started,
but this gave us a chance to get everybody back on par.

it was all in all, very fun

rawrrr barista

oh and by the way, some confused customers faces were priceless when they tried to open the door and found it locked..

ohbee

"hate the help" guy- you think that those 3 hours were too big a sacrifice? to crack down on standards and unite the partners? to BETTER SERVE YOU?!

sure maybe we lost a lot of sales, and the dvd players we were provided with and the hours to pay each partner cost the company a few bucks...but dont play the "it'll hurt the investors" card. check the stock prices. you're just wrong.

baristagirl

just got back from my training a little bit ago and i have to say it went AWESOME! i can definitely say for the first time ever, my entire store is all on the same page.

it wasn't just about "learning how to press a button" or "learning how to make coffee." it was about customer care. making our customers our #1 priority. getting back to the whole "third place" mentality. quality over speed of service.

yes, we also were making sure that we are pulling the perfect shots and making sure that we calibrate and time our espresso shots correctly. and steaming our milk to Starbucks standards so that we can make your decaf quad venti soy stirred 180 degree 3-pump vanilla 6-pump white mocha with light whip PERFECTLY EVERY TIME.

we also learned about what steps the company would be taking to get back to the good old days of Starbucks and reaffirming our commitment to the company, each other, and most importantly, our customers.

i agree that not everyone throughout the company needed to be trained to do something if they already knew how to do it correctly. but even if you didn't need the training, it's still a good job on the part of Howard's to MAKE SURE every barista, shift, ASM, and SM in each store are on an even keel with training. I applaud him and my fellow workers for taking this time out and dedicating ourselves to our company and customers. those who think this was silly (customers and partners alike) just don't understand what Howard is trying to do with making this company not just the way it used to be but BETTER.

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