Starbucks: Inclusive Culture? I think not...
January 18, 2009 4:24am CST
Starbucks may have started with a great aim and idea to make coffee houses unlike anything the world had ever seen, and since their introduction to Pike Place in Seattle, WA, they have taken the world by storm. However, with the power that comes from a business like Starbucks taking off as quickly as it did, and as successfully as it did, comes greed and corruption. The Kroger Corporation implemented a new way of thinking of their customers, in terms of "internal customers" and "external customers." External customers are the customers who come into the establishment, spend their money, and hopefully come back. The internal customers (the employees) are considered just as important to please as the external customers, because without happy internal customers, the external customers are less likely to receive the type of service that would make them want to return. Starbucks may aim to please their customers, and give the customers something that they want to come back to, however, quite often, Starbucks has been negligent of their "internal customers." Although it may not be as well known to external customers, Starbucks is notorious (especially among former employees) for treating their internal customers, very poorly. This wasn’t always the case, and there probably was a time that Starbucks was a great place to work, however, since Starbucks has expanded so rapidly, and franchised out their name, the company has continued to spiral downwards in terms of the satisfaction of their internal customers. Franchising out the Starbucks name continued to add to the downward spiral that internal customer satisfaction was headed in. Franchising out the name, allowed business owners to “buy” and operate a Starbucks for a certain amount of fees, as well as royalties on profit. However, by allowed Starbucks franchises, this put non-Starbucks employees in charge, and free to put their own policies in effect, in addition to the basic Starbucks policies, continuing to add to the tense and stressed work environment that many employees complain about. Starbucks internal customers from all around the globe have generally the same chief complaints about the company. Their complaints include, poor management, poor pay, being forced to work on what is supposed to be their break, as well as little to no benefits, and an overall tense and stressed work environment. These complaints seem to be the most prominent. Starbucks is also an incredibly wasteful business. In my experience as an internal customer of Starbucks, I learned exactly how wasteful their policy on supplies and products was. Of course, there are general guidelines to how long things can be in stock, for example, pastries removed from the freezer have a maximum shelf life of 3 days, depending on the type of pastry, while frappuccino mix has a maximum refrigerator life of 2 days, and tea bases as well as the mocha mix and chai tea mix, are discarded at the end of the day. These policies (which are due to health standards) are important, however, Starbucks massively overestimates how much poduct they need, therefore creating even more wastefulness. While working at Starbucks, I don’t believe there was ever a day that I closed the shop down, and wasn’t required to dump 3 completely full tea pitchers, 3-5 pitchers of frappuccino mix, as well as nearly full mocha and chai tea mixes. Another huge incidence of waste, is the brewed coffee. Within the last couple of years, starbucks decided that their brewed coffee needed to be brewed fresh every thirty minutes, instead of the standard 4 hours or as needed in most coffee shops. This means that every 30 minutes that the shop is open there are completely full urns of coffee being poured down the sink. I can’t even begin to guess exactly how many urns I would dump in one shift. The thing that bothered me, is that when I asked my manager if we were allowed to take home items that were just going to be dumped or thrown away I was told that to do so was “prohibited and would lead to termination.” I found that this was an even more ridiculous policy and lowered my opinion of the company by a great deal. Starbucks claims to be a socially aware, and caring company. Starbucks also tries to claim it’s earth friendly (being one of the first chains to use partially recycled paper and cardboard for their disposable cups) yet, Starbucks policy states that items that have exceeded their shelf life are to be thrown away, and any employee found taking these items home is to be terminated? This seems just as ridiculous as it is wasteful to me! In regards to external companies, Starbucks doesn’t score too highly with me on that chart either. Starbucks prices are much higher than most of their competitors, and the quality of the product the customer is receiving, in my opinion, is generally inferior to the competitor’s product. The first coffee shop I worked at automatically gave one shot of espresso for a short drink, two shots for a tall drink, three shots for a grande drink, and 4 shots for a king (the equivalent of the venti.) Starbucks, however, gives one shot of espresso for a short and a tall drink, and only 2 shots of espresso for a grande and a venti. Starbucks is also incredibly stingy with how many pumps of syrup are added to flavored drinks and charge for each additional syrup added, regardless of how many total pumps are put into the drink, and with as weak as the starbucks syrups are, I have had many customers complain that they can’t even taste the flavor. I would never again work for this greedy corporate giant. Overall, Starbucks, even though it may have started with good intentions and great goals and aplan to achieve them, has done what many and most other companies that hit it big have done. Starbucks has sacrificed customer satisfaction (both to internal and external customers) for the sake of making more money by giving less and charging more. ((Side note: An interesting site to get more information on the problems with internal customers of Starbucks is http://www.ihatestarbucks.com ))