A Hard Lesson For Starbucks About Customers, Employees, Social Media

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May 18, 2015

By Eric B. Meyer

Raise your hand if you don’t own a smartphone.

According to Pew Internet Project research, 64 percent of American adults own smartphones. And that’s just the adults.

So, it should come as no surprise that, in the brief amount of time it takes someone to pull a phone of a pocket, bring it to life, pull up a camera app, and hit record — five seconds maybe — anything you (or your employees) do in public can be stored and shared.

Trouble brewing at Starbucks

That’s exactly what happened last week at a Starbucks in New York last week. NBC4 New York reports that an employee was recorded going off … on a customer. Here’s more about the incident from the NBC4 New York report:

Customer Ruby Chen, the main target of the employee’s tirade, complained about the interaction on Starbucks’ Facebook page and posted the video, provided to her by another customer in the store who filmed the entire incident on Tuesday.”

The UK’s Daily Mail reports that, once the store learned about the video, it suspended (and later fired) the employee.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Starbucks remarked that:

“This customer’s experience is not reflective of the service our partners provide to customers every day. Our leadership team is reaching out to the customer to apologize and make this right.

We take this issue seriously; this experience does not represent the high service standards we set for ourselves. This partner no longer works for Starbucks.”

The NBC4 New York report indicates that the store’s district manager reached out to the customer to further apologize.

Training tip for your workplace

Many of your employees interact directly with customers. Logically, they should grasp the ease with which their actions may be recorded and shared.

But, be sure to remind them of that, whether as part of your training on social media, respect in the workplace, and cultural sensitivity — or just plain old customer relations.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

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