@Starbucks – Your “Tweet a Coffee” leaves a bad after taste!



@Starbucks – Your “Tweet a Coffee” leaves a bad after taste!


Let’s start by reviewing “The Starbucks Experience”. As +Joseph Michelli writes in his book, the magic behind the company’s success lay in its ability to “create personalized customer experiences, secure customer loyalty, stimulate business growth, generate profits, and energize employees – all at the same time”.

I had to test this “Experience” for myself. Not only did I start to frequent my local Starbucks more often, but also downloaded their Starbucks App. I quickly found myself engaged and rewarded. I even linked my App to automatic “refill”, for my Starbucks card of course.

I quickly reached the Green reward level, and was on my way to Gold. I valued the variety of content and specials they offered via the App, therefore Starbucks had a loyal customer in me.

On October 31st, Starbucks posted on their App the new “Tweet  a Coffee”






What a brilliant idea. Here was an easy way to send a gift using Twitter, or so I thought. As I mentioned earlier, the promotion came via the App, and since I have my +Starbucks Coffee  card linked to the App, I expected this promotion to be easy and direct. To my surprise, the link on the App required me to register and set a new form of payment!? Why, if you reach out via the App, you would automatically assume that Starbucks would use all the information they already have on hand. That’s when you find out that this program is run via a third party. At this point Starbucks loses control of their customer experience.


Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the promotion. Therefore, I reluctantly re-registered and entered my credit card details for payments. The promotion suggested rewarding your followers and your favorite bloggers. I immediately thought of +Gary Vaynerchuk @garyvee. He often reaches out to his followers asking if he can do anything. A few months ago a follower came back saying he was hungry for a cheeseburger. Gary went ahead and had one delivered! That’s when I thought, how cool would it be to send him a coffee, in order to give back and show our appreciation for sharing his insights.






To my surprise there was no formal acknowledgments, and several days later I received a notification that the gift card had not been redeemed yet!?

I decided then to reach out to two other bloggers I had just engaged with that day: +Jeremiah Owyang  @jowyang and +Kate Nasser @KateNasser.






I immediately received a FAV, so was eager to see how the experience of receiving a gift via Twitter was going to work @Starbucks.

Several days went by, I then received a new notification that none of the 3 gifts sent were redeemed!? Now this was getting weird. I proceeded to reach out to all 3 bloggers wondering if they were anti-coffee? Starbucks offers other drinks and food too. What gives?

That’s when I decided to go on my own #Customer #Experience study, and proceeded to send another gift, this time to my daughter’s Twitter account.

I found out why experienced bloggers would not want anything to do with this Starbucks campaign:




You can’t redeem the gift card I PAID FOR without authorizing Starbucks and their “Tweet a Coffee” provider to get access to your timeline, see who you follow now and in the future, profile and Tweets.

I could not believe it. Starbucks is adding restrictions behind my back, and creating a very negative experience for those receiving my gift!!!

How can companies focused on their customers not see this promotion as being deceptive and counter productive?

The value in this promotion for any third party company should reside in the success of the campaign. That success is driven by positive experience of not only the sender, but the end user as well. You don’t automatically need full access to each user Twitter accounts to gain valuable data from the transaction at hand, especially as you would anticipate those same users to continue sharing similar experiences with others in their network, without any further nudges by Starbucks.

I immediately requested a refund for the 3 gifts sent, and “Tweet a Coffee” did oblige.

Will Starbucks learn from this lesson? There are several other areas Starbucks can improve their customer experience, especially with customers that are connected with their mobile and wallet.

Why do large companies fail to realize how critical it is to incorporate 3rd party programs and solutions within their entire customer journey, in order to deliver the right customer experience? You can read my previous post related to Target, where they too failed to fully understand their third party requirements to really deliver the right experience for their online customers:


If you didn’t have to give access to your entire network, would you be willing to try this “Tweet a Coffee” option?

Would you be more willing to sign up for a mobile wallet option in order to easily participate in gift giving via Twitter or other social media sites?

Starbucks, let's work together on strengthening your #customer #experience.

Written by Eric Silverstein



A customer experience executive always ready to navigate the next business and social trends. Implements solutions that deliver and improve company bottom-line.

Twitter @Eric_Determined: https://twitter.com/Eric_Determined




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