Starbucks Drives a Digital Connection with Customers

Starbucks Drives a Digital Connection with Customers

Starbucks Drives a Digital Connection with Customers 1440 428 Chute Gerdeman

While geared for ease and convenience the traditional drive thru can still be a point of frustration for many consumers. Over the years, fast food brands have implemented efficiencies like two lane drive-thrus, digital menu boards, and order preview screens, all with the goal of speeding up the process. With the average time spent in the drive-thru averaging almost three minutes, it’s understandable why many brands are still on the hunt for innovations to make the ordering process even faster. While speed may be of value for some of these brands, accounting for as much as 70% of sales through the fast lane, it’s also worth noting that it can be the shortest and least personal experience with the brand. Seattle-based coffee chain Starbucks has been on a mission to change this by bringing the in-store experience into the drive-thru.

Starbucks’ Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz previously stated during an investor’s conference, “Our brand is defined quintessentially by the experience in our stores. And our stores come to life by our people.” Creating a personal customer experience in the drive-thru presents a challenge, but they may have found a solution. Over the last several years they’ve been quietly testing two-way video putting their Barista’s at the forefront of the drive-thru experience.

Most first caught wind of the brand’s experimentation with two-way video screens when one customer’s experience went viral online. For many hearing impaired customers the drive-thru experience just isn’t an option, but for Starbucks customers in St. Augustine (also home to a large deaf community) it’s not only possible, but also maybe preferable. Starbucks regular Rebecca King documented her surprise and delight after learning about the chain’s drive-thru digital integration. Starbucks barista Katie Wyble had studied American Sign Language, and when she recognized the regular in the drive through she conducted the order completely through sign. What seemed natural for Wyble who often uses sign with customers has been widely recognized for the brand’s continued commitment to create experiences that are uniquely relevant to the communities and individuals they serve.

Since then Starbucks has been working to roll out the screens to locations throughout the US and recently announced they’ve successfully implemented in 63 of their 200 stores in Canada. When many brands are opting solely self-service, Starbucks is choosing to integrate the human element with technology to create a personal customer experience.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg

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