Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Power Of Twitter & Starbucks

Let's face it: Starbucks was not going to lose me as a customer. I love their coffee too much—I'm addicted to the stuff—and I'm a sucker for their snacks and Frappuccinos. And while their sandwiches are not the greatest (for me, no coffee shop makes a better sandwich than Bridgehead), there are a couple that I like.

I like the Thai tuna wrap: it has a nice zest and I always feel full after eating one. But my first choice for sandwich at Starbucks is the ham and cheese panini. It's like comfort food for me. And when it's heated up, the cheese nicely melted and the tomato softened, it's great. Especially when it's washed down with a green tea Frappuccino (no whip).

So imagine my disappointment when I had a bad experience with the last ham and cheese panini, last Tuesday.

Tuesday nights are my nights to either go to my Toastmasters meeting (which I haven't done a lot of, lately) or to find a place to write—either on my blog or my book. I like to work downtown because it's far-removed from my home environment and I find inspiration from the sights and people. And when I arrived downtown, last week, I was hungry.

Not knowing what I wanted, and not wanting to spend a lot of time searching for a place to eat and a lot of money on food, I chose the closest Starbucks, on Albert, between O'Connor and Bank.

I've been to this Starbucks before but I'm not crazy about it because it doesn't have WiFi. At least, there never seems to be WiFi available when I'm there.

When I saw their sandwich selection, there was almost nothing, but I wasn't surprised: it was late in the day and this location is in a particularly busy part of town. I was left with a couple of vegetarian paninis (as if!) and a single ham and cheese. Guess which sandwich I chose?

When I asked the barista to heat the sandwich, I was told that the oven wasn't working. Bummer. This sandwich is good, but it's far better hot. My Frappuccino was cold; so was my sandwich.

I took my meal and sat on a stool at the windows, watching the commuters waiting for their buses out of the downtown core. As I was unwrapping my cold supper, the barista told me that they were closing in five minutes, and could I take my dinner out.

Hmph, I said. It wasn't a big deal: there were tables within the office tower, just outside the back door to the Starbucks. But I left feeling that I had to take care that the door didn't hit me in the ass on the way out. I wasn't made to feel that they wanted me to come back.

Don't worry. I won't. Not to that location. My regular downtown Starbucks wasn't that far away. I still intended to visit it the next time I commuted to work by bus.

And then things went from bad to worse.

After a couple of bites, I bit into what I thought was a thick, bendy piece of plastic. Nothing came off the sandwich and into my mouth. I inspected the sandwich, expecting to remove a foreign object, but the hardened substance turned out to be the ham itself. It had a tough piece of cartilage that seemed to occupy a large portion of the ham. And while I examined the sandwich innards, I saw that the cheese was very dry. Unappealing.

The doors to the Starbucks were locked, the staff seemingly in the back. I was loathe to bang on the doors to make a fuss. I was prepared to give up the cost of a poor sandwich.

And then I had an idea.

I wasn't going to demand a refund, but I was going to make my displeasure known. And so I turned to Twitter.

Since I've had my iPhone, I've snapped a lot of instant photos and posted them on Twitter through the Instagram app. If you've seen the pictures on my blog lately, most of the photos are Instagram shots.

I took a picture of my sandwich and posted it to Twitter with a simple message:

"Worst sandwich ever from @starbuckscanada. Throwing it out :("

There. I said my piece. And by including @StarbucksCanada in the message, I let the company know my feelings. I felt better already. But I was still hungry. I threw out the remainder of the sandwich and hoped that my Frappuccino would carry me until I got home.

I moved on, wanting to continue my evening.

Less than an hour later, I received the following tweet:

And so I responded, outing the offending location. I did mention that normally, I enjoy this sandwich.

A little later, this is what I read:

So I said:

And they said:

So I sent a direct message, and a little later I received a notification that @StarbucksCanada was now following me on Twitter. And then I waited, hearing nothing again until the next day, when I received the following tweet:

Wow, that was great. Not necessarily expected, but not a total surprise. Starbucks is known for stepping up when they offer less than stellar service. I've even received a free voucher for a beverage just because the staff felt I waited too long for my drink (I didn't think I had). I thanked whoever was running @StarbucksCanada and waited for my e-mail, which I expected would contain a coupon.

And so I waited. And waited. When Friday came, I wondered when they thought I'd be returning to Starbucks.

The weekend came and went, and by lunchtime on Monday, I figured that I had been forgotten. If only one person was looking after the Twitter account for Starbucks Canada, I wasn't surprised.

Was I upset? Nah. It wasn't @StarbucksCanada's fault that a single Ottawa shop served a bad sandwich. It wasn't as though Starbucks had lost a customer. Come Tuesday morning, on my morning commute, I was still planning to visit my regular shop.

And then, on Monday afternoon, six days after my sub-standard sandwich, I received the following e-mail:

Success. The love was solidified. And just in time, for I would be visiting my regular downtown Starbucks the next day. Now, I would be treating myself to a delicious breakfast. (By the time you read this post, the deed will be done!)

My thanks go out to Vicki—@StarbucksCanada. I think all Starbucks lovers who tweet should follow her. Not just because she stepped up when I complained, but because she's obviously someone who cares.

And I've learned that we all have a voice, and thanks to Twitter, we can be heard.

1 comment:

  1. I remember your tweet. I'm glad that the company heard you and did something about it!