Starbucks’ Shot At Web 2.0:

This week, Starbucks rolled out their new customer service site to mixed reviews. seeks to act as a social networking site for Starbucks customers, but falls short by a long double shot.

The site allows users to interact through discussion boards, and to share ideas for ways the stores, products and company can be improved. Users vote on each other’s ideas, and then see the changes in action. It seems that in an effort to really learn their customer, Starbucks has engaged Web 2.0 with the age-old suggestion box and slapped it with the popular "social networking’". Wrong.

The 40-some odd "Idea Partners" describe their site by saying, “My Starbucks Idea is an online community dedicated to sharing and discussing ideas and allowing you to see how Starbucks is putting top ideas into action,” mentioning that issues specific to your Starbucks experience should still be mentioned in the Contact Us section of

So this site is for high-level, pie-in-the-sky ideas, right? As it turns out, not really: It’s actually a popularity contest! As the site says, “Everyone helps decide by voting. Ideas posted to the ‘Popular Ideas’ section of the website (determined by using an algorithm based on number of points, number of comments and recency of post) will be considered, but our Idea Partners may also choose ideas simply because they think they’re promising.” So, if you’ve got an idea, submit it—it’ll be up to the user community to determine the idea’s validity and relevance and vote it into popularity.

The site gets it right in its intention to be an arena of community discussion for consumers. Because I’m a big advocate of networking—and an even bigger advocate of brainstorming—the basic functions of this site may be useful for someone like me, who enjoys (nay, needs) her perfect daily double shot of espresso, with two inches of steamed soy, with soy foam on top, please. And, at $3.79 a pop (plus the occasional pastry. Okay, who am I kidding?)—my voice had better be heard.

But enough on this, I need to go finish my coffee.

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