|  June 24 2011  |   Blog   |   0 COMMENTS

Last week, Joanna talked about a situation that McDonald’s faced when a picture of a fake sign circulated around the Internet. The sign, which said McDonald’s would be charging African American customers an extra $1.50 due to a string of robberies, was obviously not good for the company’s image. In her post, Joanna asked if McDonald’s did enough to mend the situation? I would like to ask that same question in regards to a recent incident Starbucks had to address.

This story caught my attention for two reasons – 1. I love Starbucks (as you can tell from many other blog posts on the company) and 2. the incident took place at a store on Long Island, NY, where I grew up. Here’s some background on what happened – a customer wrote a blog post expressing her concern over a situation she witnessed among the store’s employees. According to a Newsday article, “Starbucks Coffee Co. executives in Seattle are promising an investigation into a controversy that began Sunday and centered on the alleged firing or alleged forced resignation of a gay employee at a store in Centereach.”

Just like the McDonald’s story, the blog post started to go viral and many loyal customers were upset and waiting to see how Starbucks handled the situation. In an article on Ragan’s PR Daily, Michael Sebastian looks at how Starbucks responded to the blog post:

  • On the company website — Starbucks posted a letter on its website that basically said how upset the company was by the allegations that it was taking immediate measures to investigate and take any steps necessary to make this right. They wrote “the actions reported do not correspond with our values, who we are as a company, or the beliefs we try to instill in our partners.”
  • On Twitter — The company responded directly to people asking about the incident on its Twitter account. Their tweets said “We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind.” and “We are investigating and will be as transparent as we legally can be.”
  • In the media — A company spokesperson told the media that what the customer  “saw and what she heard wasn’t exactly what was going on.” He explained that the employee resigned on his own and was not forced into the decision.

So did Starbucks do enough? I think they did – they acknowledged the incident and customers’ concerns right away and through various channels – social media, their website and in traditional media. The Internet has provided customers with a new way to vent about their frustrations about a company so these circumstances are very common. I was glad to see that Starbucks took the appropriate measures to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. What do you think?

Image via Atlanta Business Journal

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