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Friday, August 22, 2014

Strategic CSR - Starbucks

The article in the url below, which reports on a series of events that occurred this week at a Starbucks in St. Petersburg, FL, is a good story to start the weekend:
"The acts of kindness began at 7 a.m. Wednesday with a woman, her iced coffee and a stranger's caramel macchiato. The woman paid for her own drink, then asked to pay for the drink of the person behind her in the drive-through. That person returned the favor and paid for the person behind, and so did that person, until the employees at the St. Petersburg Starbucks on Tyrone Boulevard began a tally on green laminated paper near the drive-through window. By 1:30 p.m., the chain had reached 260 customers."
How did the chain keep going?
"People ordered a drink at the speaker. When they pulled through to the next window, the barista, Vu Nguyen, 29, leaned through and said with a smile that their drinks had already been paid for by the person in front of them. Would they like to return the favor?"
Now, I recognize that a degree of peer group pressure was involved in extending the chain, with some customers saying "they didn't want to be the jerk to end it." But, still, there are not enough good stories to go around for me to pass this one up:
"The baristas inside began to think of what they might do if it lasted until 10 p.m., when the Starbucks closed. Perhaps they could put the final amount on a gift card and continue the next day? They tallied 378 people by early evening."
In the end, the chain lasted 11 hours. That is, an uninterrupted sequence of 378 customers who found out their drinks had been paid for by the customer in front and, in turn, agreed to pay for the customer behind them. There are stories of customers pulling up, hainvg only ordered a small coffee for themself, but being willing to pay for the order behind them of multiple drinks and sandwiches. There was also a report of one guy returning for another coffee later in the day to see if the chain was still going. Moreover, once news got out, it was reported that the line started up again the next day. The NPR story covering the event is here:
Now, if we could just get everyone to care about each other's planet to the same extent as they clearly care about each other's coffee!
Have a good weekend                                                  
David Chandler & Bill Werther
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Nearly 400 people 'pay it forward' at St. Petersburg Starbucks 
By Weston Phippen
August 20, 2014
Tampa Bay Times