How Starbucks Engages with its Customers

Meg Walsh    October 13, 2015

Organization name: Starbucks

Industry: Coffee Company

Starbucks logo

The way an organization communicates and interacts with their customers is a very delicate process, especially in this day in age with social media. Word is now spreading quicker than ever and one little mistake can ruin a whole organizations reputation.

If the risk is so great, why are companies communicating with their customers on social media? It’s simple, it’s the customers who have migrated over to social media to communicate with organizations, and in order to secure their brand reputation, an organization must keep up with the times.

People are now as impatient as ever and expect a response to their questions right away. Traditional methods of customer care such as email, can have you waiting for days for a response. Calling in by telephone can have customers sitting on hold for hours, which can be a very frustrating process. Social media allows organizations to respond to their guests, when their brand is mentioned in a customers post, and take immediate action whether it’s a positive or negative experience that has been shared.

Social media also gives the customer a more personal brand experience and develops a sense of community around the brand. Most responses sent over social media to customers are more casual which reminds the customer that it’s an actual human being on the other end. This helps build the companies reputation and allows for the consumer to engage with the brand on a more personal level.

One of the main reasons it’s important for organizations to participate in customer care on social media is the transparency of it. If you have customers your brand will ultimately be discussed online whether you want it to be or not. In order to protect your brands reputation, and have repeat customers, it’s important for organizations to participate in the conversation in a timely manner.

A study by Lithium Technologies found that 53% of customers who ask an organization a question on Twitter expect a response within 1 hour regardless of when they tweeted, with that percentage rising to 72% if it’s a complaint. Therefore, providing fast customer support through social media is crucial for any brand’s social media strategy.



One organization that engages with their customers well on social media is Starbucks. This company, which has over 21,000 stores in 65 different countries, reported record net revenue of $16.4 billion for fiscal year 2014 (an increase of 11% from the previous year). A company that provides you with tasty food and coffee, as well as free Wi-Fi, is proving to provide its customers something else — a personal relationship through social media, and so far they are doing an amazing job.

starbucks twitter image

Starbucks is quick to respond to their consumers on both their Facebook and Twitter accounts and they know when to act ‘corporate’, and when to be light and fun. Like many organizations (who are managing social media well) Starbucks has an additional Twitter handle (@mystarbucksidea) to engage with their consumers. While this account is not as active as their main Twitter account, it’s a place where customers can submit their ideas to make Starbucks better. Starbucks even uses YouTube as a way to communicate answers to commonly asked questions from their customers.


The role social media plays in customer care is one of the most important uses of social media for organizations today. Not only do social channels make a place for companies to house their Q&A’s, it’s also a place to learn from their consumers to improve their products. Organizations need not only to listen but to communicate back to their consumers in order to protect their brands reputation. Unanswered questions or complaints can spread like wildfire leaving a brands reputation in the wind.

For more information on how to engage your consumers and manage customer service on your social media platforms, check out this podcast from OtterBox.

Web referencesStarbucks, Social Media Today, Brandwatch, Forbes

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