I cannot remember clearly, when I became a Starbucks convert. It probably happened some time after I graduated from university, when I was first introduced to Java Chip, which was not as sweet as Coffee Bean’s Belgium Chocolate frappes. I got addicted to Java Chip, loving its strong taste and good blend of coffee and chocolate, while munching on its java chips in the mixture.
I fell in love with Starbucks there and then.
It wasn’t so much the drink, but the whole Starbucks experience. I’ve always been a coffee & cafe person, where I’d find millions of reasons to sit at a cafe with affordable drinks and cakes the whole day – to simply read or to do work, or to chill with a friend and talk until the sun sets and the cows come home. Starbucks drew me towards it with its very friendly demeanor and I love the way their partners make conversation with you as they serve you, it makes the experience feels really homely. It makes me feel attached to the whole experience, and want to frequent Starbucks more.
The book, How Starbucks saved my life, gave me new insights as to how things worked in Starbucks itself. I was really impressed with the work culture, and the various efforts they put in to integrate with the community at large and go green at the same time. I just bought myself a tumbler from Starbucks, a red classic looking one, and I intend to use it whenever I frequent Starbucks in future, to reduce the use of plastic to-go cups (and save fifty cents in the process). I admire Starbucks for using this honest-to-go approach with its customers and make them feel entirely at home at any Starbucks outlet.
I received the exact same experience in the local Singapore outlets and the Taipei outlets (when I found Starbucks with glee during my recent trip to Taiwan). All the Partners were friendly and keen to serve, to make your Starbucks experience a wonderful one. I remember once, when I was at Plaza Singapura and I just purchased an Iced Caffe Mocha with an Apple crumble cheesecake (yummy!) and the Partner who was serving me my drink and cake made quick conversation while we were waiting for the drink to be ready. She took the active approach of asking if I was done with work and waiting for friends, and exclaimed wonderously when I said I was done with work (because it was only 5ish in the evening – I had an early day off from school).
The Starbucks Partners at Jurong Point are lovely, especially their female manager, Karen, who is always greeting customers with a smile and helped me out with my tumbler selection this afternoon. She was not pushy, but friendly and informative when I asked her about the functions of the various tumblers. I remember one very important occasion when the JP store was packed with people and customers started getting a little impatient because the drinks were not coming out as fast as they liked. I was just waiting very patiently for my drink at the back and I think she noticed my waiting (which was really quite a while, but because I was happy to wait for my drink I just waited patiently), she thanked me for my patient waiting profusely when she finally served me my drink. Where else would you find such service?
If Singapore were to sincerely want to improve their service, I’d suggest they take a leaf out of Starbucks’ book and learn the true meaning of sincere service. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy their drinks and cakes, and curl up in one of their big sofas any time with my work, or my books (or, my ahem Kindle).
I was never paid in any way to promote Starbucks in this entry. I just really really really admire Starbucks for their service and experience. ;)