My Starbucks Idea. The Future of the Contact Us page

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starbucksideac.jpgThey're so close and yet so far. I watched with increasing interest the launch, promotion and growth of My Starbucks Idea. On the surface, I really like it. It is an enthusiastic effort by a social brand to be more social. If there's anyone who should be really embracing social media, its Starbucks because the brand is about community and people.

It's a simple concept - users are invited to tell Starbucks what they should be doing. Users publish their ideas and others comment and vote on them. Every now and then Starbucks takes an idea and moves it to the "See" section. Acknowledgment that the idea has legs and is being turned in to reality. I like it.

But its missing a few things. The first is best represented by this user comment in the Idea section.

I don't know how long this ideas website will be up for, but I hope this idea is reviewed soon by the ideas people in the company.
Starbucks doesn't participate in the conversation. It doesn't respond to comments directly rather it responds more broadly in the "See" section when they're making reality out of an idea. That's disappointing. If you expect your customers to help you, you should be willing to participate in their conversation. Not stand by silently or only speak from a pulpit.

What's also missing is there's no form of reward for ideas turned into reality. Imagine if every person who participated in the discussion around a frequency card, were added to a beta list for that card? That would be a great way to thank those customers for their thoughts. It would seed the concept with passionate consumers too. Opportunity missed.

On the whole though, I'm impressed. It borrows from the Dell Ideastorm concept and applies it to the Starbucks world. I believe that concepts like these are the future of the contact us page. Every site will need to have an area like this - a place where the brand solicits feedback from its customers and responds to their comments. If a brand doesn't want to be social in this manner, it shouldn't really be on the web at all.

Follow me on Twitter (@shivsingh) for more insights on digital strategy and social media.


Toby Vann said:

That's so funny. I was looking at the Dell site just this morning (specifically the suggestion box portion) thinking the same thing the starbucks users did regarding the "idea department"

Asking the age old social media question; How do you sift through the inevitable chafe in order to get to useful content on consumer or B2B sites without losing customer loyalty?

Hey, where's my credit on the picture? :)

I really liked how Starbuck's promoted MyStarbucksIdea. I noticed both a full day of ads on the Digg home page and an unavoidable call-out on

It's rare to see this much support for a "social" idea.

Shiv Singh Author Profile Page said:

Yes, you totally deserve the credit for that picture! I did warn you that I would be using it. There was a lot of media buying even on the NY Times. I wonder how they are measuring the ROI of this initiative.

Ashutosh said:

>> Every site will need to have an area like this - a place where the brand solicits feedback from its customers and responds to their comments.

That's what discussion forums are for. With a simple voting plugin (in vBulletin or phpBB for example), your ideas forum is good to go.

HLovett Author Profile Page said:

There is a site I saw present a few weeks ago that is aimed at getting feedback from the web community for any product - it is called kluster. Companies can offer incentives for design/ideas/what have you or they can simply canvas the community for feedback. Perhaps companies such as starbucks would be better served using a platform such as that one.

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