Smart Coffee

So, Starbucks, the “evil empire,” is having a training day.

Actually, it’s more like a training half-day, but its the principle that’s so interesting.

Starbucks Coffee is shutting down all 7,100 (yes, that’s seven thousand) of its stores, keeping all 135,000 “baristas” on the clock, to do some necessary, in-house employee training.

I can’t begin to calculate the real costs; it must certainly approach or exceed $10,000,000. Easily.

And you’re agonizing over a few thousand dollars to provide some sorely-needed development to some key managers???

The company said these educational sessions will “provide a renewed focus on espresso standards” and will “transform” the customer experience.

In other words, they’ll do some technical training as well as some learning on customer service, customer satisfaction, and in all likelihood, some mix of communications skills.

Many call these “soft” skills. I think not — especially since it’s these very skills that define a customer’s experience.

So, it’s not the millions of dollars in costs I mentioned above; the return on that investment is so much larger. Consider that their employees are now better trained (read: “more productive”); trained, likely, by a consistent message across the company; and no one can possibly doubt Starbuck’s focus on employee development and customer satisfaction.

To paraphrase Mark Twain:

“The news of training’s death has been greatly exaggerated.”

Even if a triple-venti, non-fat, no-whip mocha does cost $4.35.


Kevin Berchelmann


  1. says

    True story…Had dinner that night with an gentleman who shared the following story. The morning after the training,he walked into a Starbucks in Brookline, MA and he was the only person in line. Eight baristas were busy doing something while he waited. It must have been a good 3 minutes before anyone acknowledged him. He stood there in amazement. And this my friends happened the morning after everyone received training in customer service.

    So you tell me how the training went! It is not about the training. It is about hiring the right people who have a desire to provide a high level of customer service.

    Roberta Matuson

  2. says

    I had the opportunity to partake of Starbucks’ hospitality the following morning and I asked how the customer service and product training went. I loved the response I got from the barrister:

    “You tell me.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *