Thursday, January 18, 2007

Enough With the Upsell

I am sitting in a Starbucks as I write this.

When I got my coffee, the clerk said, "Do you want to try a cinnamon dolce latte?" I declined. He was asking everybody that; obviously, the order has come down from above that all customers must be offered this drink. (There's also signage up in the store.)

Just now I overheard the barista telling someone, "Oh, it's just, like, the best latte ever!" as the clerk was asking (again), "would you like to try the cinnamon dolce latte?"

Now, I'm one of those people who has become an anomaly at Starbucks. I like coffee. I like the taste. I like the smell. And so I am very happy to have coffee, or a traditional espresso drink. Every now and then I've tried one of their special drinks, and generally found them a bit disgusting. So I stick to my coffee that actually tastes like coffee.

And the people who work at this particular Starbucks, who have seen me a million times, reliably offer me all this crap each time I come in and get one of the same three things that I ever get here.

Does anybody believe the barista raving about the new cinnamon dolce latte? Maybe he really does love it. But if next week's drink is the broccoli chai no-whip mocha, he'll be telling us about that, won't he? How do we know? Maybe the words are being relayed from a chip in his head connected to the Starbucks Hive in Seattle.

Here's a different idea - how about employees who are passionate about something you sell, and tell customers about it because they want to share that passion? How about offering the new drink to someone who looks up at the menu and seems uncertain and might want a suggestion, but not to the person who comes in four or five times a week getting the same thing?

In other words, how about an honest relationship with your customers?

Otherwise, the enthusiasm of your employees comes across as... well... flair, as seen below.

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