Those loyal to the Starbucks brand were meet last month with the start of many changes to the company’s loyalty program. In addition to revamping the loyalty rewards Starbucks has also announced a partnership with the mobile technology company, Square. This change marks a continued push by Starbucks to enhance its digital integration.
Gold card members have initially reacted negatively towards the recent changes. This is due, in part, to Starbucks decision to end free soy and syrup options for its gold card members. Although, the company will alienate some customers due to this decision they are hoping to heal the wounds by offering a free drink or food every 12 stars instead of 15. Extending the free offer to cover food could mean an almost $6.00 value if customers opt for one of the several Paninis which most Starbucks locations offer.
Among other new changes, rewards are now uploaded directly to your account. This is a relief for many customers that frequently forget to bring in their postcards to claim their free drinks, but this change has upset many less tech savvy customers.
The real excitement for the digital change at Starbucks will come later as the company pursues further integration with Square’s more advanced technology including the automated location aware feature that will allow customers to pay simply by stating their name.
Starbucks is clearly seeking to the set the stage for a whole new customer experience. If the plan is seen to fruition, then a customer will be able to order before they get to the store and walk in to be greeted by name, with their handcrafted beverage ready to enjoy (even if they have never been to that location before). The customer is then free to leave without ever having to touch cash or plastic.
Starbucks is redefining what a transaction feels like, and it seems very consistent with the company’s overall goal of creating the exceptional customer experience. What are your thoughts on the evolution of loyalty programs?
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