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China is an amazing place.
I love it.
I literally love it.
I love it’s madness, speed, energy and down right weirdness.
But despite that, I still need a bunch of creature comforts and one of those is coffee.
Every morning, as I walk to work, I pop into Starbucks to get a latte.
Yes, I know Starbucks coffee is not real coffee.
Yes, I know Starbucks is about as corporate as you can get.
Yes, I know Starbucks is pretty much shitty all round … but in a land where good coffee is hard to find, beggars can’t be choosers.
That said, I think Starbucks is pretty amazing in China.
Not because of their products or their stores or their service, but because they almost single-handidly brought the coffee culture into one of the greatest tea adoring nations on earth.
Sure, it cost them an immense amount of time, money and training – but to achieve that is way more impressive than what most brands can claim.
But that’s not what this post is about, no, it’s about standards.
Last week, when I walked into Starbucks, I saw this:
Yep, it’s a heat sleeve dispenser.
Now I appreciate that might not seem much to you, but a brand that has built part of its reputation on its customer service, I found it interesting they decided it was time their customers sorted out their own coffee sleeve requirements.
This might seem a petty little thing – and it is – but it’s the implication of doing this that disturbs me.
What happens if they decide to charge for their sweetner?
What happens if they decide to charge for using a spoon?
OK, so I’m being alarmist, but the thing is, once a brand sets a minimum standard of experience, you cannot ever go back on it.
Well, actually you can, but you better have a good reason for it [ie: helping the environment] and you’d better make sure people know about it.
People might have bad memories … people might have better things to worry about and do … however they are very quick to notice a decline/change in something that has become part of their routine which is why while a brand might not think it’s a big thing, they’d be surprised how quickly people can turn it into that, especially when they feel they’re losing something they’ve previously had and it’s gone for no reason.
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