I'm an Idea Partner in Seattle and on the Partner Resources (a.k.a. Human Resources) team. It has been great to see the passionate discussions between our customers and partners on this topic over the past few days. I truly appreciate your honesty and different points of view—it's refreshing! As a partner and loyal customer of Starbucks, I definitely understand both perspectives on this idea. Many of you feel that adding names to faces will facilitate a better connection and make the interactions even more personal. On the other hand, some of you feel that it's too formal, it creates a fast-food feel, it's not necessary, or it's too personal.
Our store partners are the first point of contact for many of our customers. Besides the quality of our coffee drinks and products, it's the service and human connection our partners provide that keep customers coming back. As I reflect on how the human connection is created, I think of many possibilities...a smile, a hello, an acknowledgment, an introduction, an inquiry, a conversation, or a simple "thank you." Also, you may notice that we have a sign in our stores saying, "Your barista is..." This is another way for us to foster that connection. In my view, these types of actions and interactions bring a sense of belonging and the third place to our customers the moment they step in the door.
Could nametags or sewn aprons facilitate the human connection between our partners and customers? Possibly. We tested the nametag idea in the Northeast several years ago. At that time, we decided not to move forward because the feedback was that it created a "fast-food" atmosphere. It's something we’ll continue to evaluate and discuss and we’ll definitely update you if it gets implemented in the future.
Connection is what makes us a different kind of company to our customers. If you have ideas on other ways we can enhance that connection, I encourage you to share them with us! Thanks.