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Starbucks UK vs Costa Coffee

I am a huge coffee fan. I buy coffee, I drink coffee and and I conduct business over coffee. I have meetings in Costa Coffee Covent Garden near IQDigital’s offices, and sometimes near my house in North London.

Now, I want to tell you a short story about coffee. This is a story about customer dissatisfaction, and how Costa Coffee and Starbucks UK reacted.


A couple of weeks ago, I was at Costa Coffee. I was there for quite a long time. I had two meetings and worked on various things for a couple of hours. Overall, I was at the coffee shop for four hours and I bought three coffees. I usually drink Americano, but that day I decided to indulge in a latte.

Here was the result:

Now, please remember that I’m a loyal client at Costa Coffee. Here’s my card:


I do not like complaining. When I’m not happy with a product or service, I will forgive. I will forgive a company once, and maybe even twice. But, when it becomes a habit, I think that speaking up actually helps companies to improve themselves. If you want to succeed, you must listen to your criticisms, and not your praises. That’s the truth.

After I posted the tweet above, Costa Coffee replied to me:

I sent an email to [email protected], and, after a week, I received a reply from Costa Coffee:

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 01.18.39


What did Costa achieve? They made a client happy, and kept him loyal. What did it cost them? One tweet, one email and one coffee.

Ok, now onto Starbucks.

A few days ago, I really felt like a Toffee Nut Latte.

Costa Coffee, my usual coffee hangout, doesn’t offer this drink. So, my cravings led me to Starbucks. There are two Costa Coffees near my house. One is a five minute walk, and the other is ten minutes away. Now, Starbucks is thirty minutes away by bus and another ten minutes of walking.  Getting to Starbucks takes me almost eight times longer than getting to Costa Coffee. Yet, I decided to venture all the way to Palmer’s Green with the promise of a hot Toffee Nut Latte, as well as needing to stock up on Starbucks filter coffee and some of their delicious vanilla syrup.

When I arrived, I ordered my Toffee Nut Latte and bought my products. I paid £13 in total. Just so you know, Starbucks is one of my favourite coffee houses, and I purchase a lot from them. Here’s my card:



When I received my coffee, I realised that it felt very light. I used to work in the industry many years ago, and I recognised the familiar feel of too much foam and not enough coffee. So, I opened it up, and this is what I found:

Doesn’t Starbucks get enough profits from selling Venti coffees, Fairtrade Chocolate Chunk Shortbread, thermal mugs and all the other merchandise that they try and sell us. So, why do they sacrifice quality? Their prices are not cheap, and I, at least, except good quality for the amount of money that I’m dishing out. When you pay £4 for a coffee, you expect a certain standard.

Please take a wild guess as to how @StarbucksUk responded. That’s right, they didn’t. They have not adapted to the #GiveOrDie concept.

What I really can’t understand is that they have the time to tweet THIS at 23:35:

But they don’t have time to reply to their clients. Their clients are their foundation. They are the ones who are paying their salaries, and keeping Starbucks in their no whip Venti Caramel Latte business. I can see thousands of Twitter users asking Starbucks UK to follow them and reply to them. They’re asking Starbucks to acknowledge them; to engage with them. But what does Starbucks do? They ignore them. These opportunities on Twitter should be treated like gold to any company. People are actually talking to you and about you, and you’re ignore them? If I were to walk into a Starbucks and start talking to a barista, would they ignore me? I don’t think so. Why should it be any different online?

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And I’m not even going to get into how much money they spend on interrupted marketing, rather than permission marketing. Instead of spending thousands on ads, why don’t they invest in engaging with their clients? I didn’t even mention that they didn’t have bags for my merchandise, so I had to carry them in my hands on my forty minute journey home. Starbucks needs to wake up and shape up. They need to start investing in customer experience.

To sum up, Costa Coffee made a mistake. But they listened and reacted. They have kept a happy client who will continue visiting their stores, and buying more coffee. What did Starbucks achieve by their actions (or lack thereof)? They have lost a once loyal client. I definitely will not be wasting forty minutes of my day to receive 40%milk and 60% foam. Actually, even if I was near by, I wouldn’t even waste five minutes of my day.


Just writing this article, I’m thinking about how much money is spend on advertising, and how it compares to the time invested in training employees to use social media correctly. Starbucks: you have a lot to learn. ( and I guess we can learn a lot from Starbucks as well, they are a very successful global brand after all )

I forgot to mention, some of you might say that I only tweet when I have something to complain about, well it’s not true. I love when companies deliver WOW service and I always praise them using my business oriented account, not my personal account! Here is one of my recent tweets to moo:


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