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Service Provider Analysis and Recommendations.
November 21, 2017
The location that I have chosen is Starbucks at Astor Place.
One of the very important questions that I have been asking myself for the past few month that I have been coming here is whether the Baristas are providing the perfect customer experience and delivering the main product which is coffee and coffee based drinks in the best possible time that they can to their clients. My ideal situation would be to learn for myself whether the customers for the most part are leaving satisfied and whether the service is being delivered in the most optimal amount of time. By service I mean not only the fact that they serve coffee or coffee based products and food, but also the overall experience of customer service. I would ideally want to learn what type of hold ups is Star Bucks experiencing in their daily routine and why some people leave dissatisfied which ultimately was part of my observation.
The methodology that I used was hands on experience by going to the location on 6 different occasions at different times of the day when going to classes at St. John’s University Astor Place Campus. I visited the Starbucks location during the lunch hour and then during the afternoon / evening time about the time before the 6pm classes would start. So figure first was around 12 – 1pm and the 2nd time was around 5:30pm right before class starts. I not only acted as a customer and on all 6 occasions I was ordering my regular double espresso and in the evening I would order a red eye, which are my standard drinks in any coffee shops. I was able to observe the fact that probably and this would be a really rough estimate around 60 – 70% of all the Drinks that are being ordered at Starbucks are what I called complicated drinks which means they are the “Chai Soy Lattes, Cappuccinos with Caramel Spice, Pumpkin Spice Latte, etc.” I am only providing the names as to the general references only. The reason why I am mentioning them is to simply explain the fact the complicated drinks take time to make, they use syrup, warm milk, steam, and it takes roughly by my watch estimate about 2 – 3 minutes to make each drink. A simple cappuccino probably will take 2 minutes at best to make. I measured the lines of customers and how many customers were typically in line during that period of time. I also measured how many drinks on average were in the queue. I also took notice of the customers reactions and interaction with the Baristas and how in my opinion they were being attended.
My finding were very interesting to me as what I have observed that during those peak hours when coming to Starbucks there is always a line of people that ranges from minimum of 3 – 5 people up to 8 – 10 depending on the hour and the day. Considering the amount of time that it takes to optimally make each drink on average I had to wait between 6 – 10 minutes and this is not considering times when people would order their food and would ask for the food to be warmed up in the oven. I one occasion I spent almost 15 minutes waiting for my order at the location. I would like to remind myself that I was ordering either double espresso or a red eye, which is a simple espresso with just coffee on top of it. What I have observed is that Baristas do not prioritize no matter what type of order comes into their line they simply put it in the back no matter how complex or easy the order is they never prioritize and never utilize the full capabilities of the espresso machine. I have also noticed that on many occasions they make mistakes and people get tired of waiting and simply leave and they end up having an extra cappuccino or a Latte and since the person who is taking the order in most cases is not the person who is making the drink it so happens that the person who is making the drink later starts screaming out the name of a person who supposedly this drink belongs to, but they are no longer there and the drinks gets gifted to someone randomly. Believe it or not this circus has happened and I witnessed this on more than one occasion. Some other observations that I have noticed is because of the extremely populated environment Baristas often make mistakes and they put wrong mil into drinks. For example someone will ask for soy milk latte and they will put regular milk, in this case they will obviously announce it, but the person who ordered it will say no I ordered it with soy milk, in which case they will apologize and change the order. Basically to summarize my conclusion of observations I have noticed that there is a clear miss communication between the people who are taking the orders and the people who are making the actual drinks and this often at busy times creates total chaos and not only seriously impacts that mood of the customers, but seriously impacts the customer service and wait times, as well as overall customer experience.
The deductions that I made is that Baristas in Starbucks are totally ignoring the methods of prioritizing clients and their orders in a Fashion that traditional coffee baristas are trained to do. They fail to differentiate the fact that it only takes a few seconds and my seconds I literally mean probably between 15 – 30 seconds to make an espresso and no manual labor at all, yet they will take that order and put it in the back of the line behind the 8 – 10 Cappuccinos and Lattes that they have to make for people ahead of time. This made totally no sense to me as to why someone who only needs 15 seconds of attention has to wait for up to 15 minutes to get the order processed and received. I also noticed that when people ordered food and drinks at the same time on numerous occasion the person taking the order would start warming up the food and would put the drink on the side and only after getting the food done they would pass the drink to the barista to pour. Not to mention and I will not question there concept of asking every one for a name, but being in a global environment and having people from all over the world they constantly screw up the names of many different people and customers have to correct them as to my name is such and such, kind of seemed a bit time wasting to me and totally unnecessary, but possibly this is part of Starbucks concept and design. Again being the coffee drinker I come there for coffee and frankly from coffee point of view if there was a mom and pop coffee / expresso shop I would definitely choose it vs Starbucks any day of the week J
Based on my observations I would say there is definitely a lot of room for improvement. First of all I have observed that a number of customers who do go to Starbucks including myself are not 100% satisfied with the service and especially the time it takes to process the drinks and leave with a coffee in your hand. I have noticed that there is a lot of room for optimization and training for Baristas in a way that they should learn how to optimize orders and understand that if someone orders espresso or a red eye, black eye, you can always put it ahead of the line as all it takes is to put the cup to the espresso machine and press a button so that the coffee starts to pour. They are not even manual machines like traditional espresso machines and even those in Europe the baristas known how to prioritize. This would seriously speed up the lines and would quickly release at least 20 – 30 % of customers who are not ordering complicated drinks, ultimately create more space in the café and create a less crowded environment. Another observation and perhaps something that might be considered is to eliminate this name calling process and instead create a ticket number process similar to how they operate at Five Guys burger joint. You place an order and you get a ticket which is #52, once the order is processed the Barista calls #52, and there is no need to ask for Andrews, Aleksey, and Jermaine’s, as well as there is no need for the whole coffee shop to know that you have ordered a Chai soy latte with pumpkin spice only to later find out that no it is a mistake and you did not ask for pumpkin spice. If there is a number system than things are crystal clear, what you order is what you get, you have ticket # and you present that ticket to retrieve the items from Baristas. They can cordially ask at the time of presenting the ticket, but there is no need to scream through the whole cafe shop and waiting until someone answers. This level of optimization I believe is key in order to create a less crowded and a more enjoyable environment where customers can concentrate on enjoying their coffee and their food without the hefty waiting and ordering process.