Fear and Confusion at Starbucks and Best Buy
Fast Company recently sent a bunch of reporters and volunteers out to various Starbucks locations to try out the mobile payment app Square. The results were shared under the headline Starbucks's Shoddy Square Rollout Baffles Baristas, Confuses Customers. This is what I was talking about when I wrote how Best Buy's BlueShirts scattered in fear and confusion when I asked them about using the shopkick app.
Square Wallet is the mobile payment app from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, and the arrangement for Starbucks to accept Square payments was much publicized. The idea is you open the app on your phone, and the store can scan the phone at the register and collect the payment.
Fast Company tried Square at various Starbucks locations and had mixed results, with some scanners not being able to read the phone, and some baristas who didn't know how to accept the payments. A number of baristas said they had never been trained on the service.
Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman responded to the criticism, saying that because the company is so large, it can't wait to be perfect before rolling out new technology. Another issue was that about 30% of Starbucks locations were licensed, and did not accept Square. That's fine, but it shouldn't be on the consumer to know which stores are company owned.
The initial shopkick rollout to Best Buy was only to a few locations, but all of the locations should have been trained so that if a customer comes and asks about it, the response won't be a blank stare.
The story underscores the fact that no matter how much money executives put into an idea behind closed doors (in this case $25 million), the success of the customer's experience depends on the people on the sales floor. Don't forget the people on the front lines and keep them happy and well-trained.
Related story: How shopkick Exposed My Social Retail Wounds