How Starbucks balances automated and human insights

Stephen Whiteside

In any kind of retail environment, tending to customers' best interest is an implicit part of the full marketing experience.

Starbucks Corp. – with more than 20,000 coffeehouses around the world – needs to keep a keen eye on customer satisfaction as it serves up an estimated 10.5 million servings a day.

The simple truth is that it's enormously frustrating to stand in line for a cup of coffee. Consequently, consistently improving the customer experience is an integral part of the value proposition.

Automation is an important tool for Starbucks, not just in terms of moving the line through the store more quickly, but also in getting to know its customers better. "It's just a tremendous way to save money and get there faster," said John Goedert, the company's manager/operations testing and innovation.