Starbucks has eggnog on its face.
The coffee kingpin will bring back its seasonal Eggnog Latte nationwide this month after a customer revolt spread from letters to phone calls to social media. It had dropped the beverage, a seasonal offering since 1986, to try to simplify its expanding menu. “We made a mistake,” says spokeswoman Linda Mills. “We are very sorry.”
Well, they’re not handing out free Eggnog Lattes. But Starbucks hopes to have the drink back in all stores by the week of Nov. 17, says Mills. Because it has always been so popular in the Pacific Northwest, it was re-introduced there Nov. 1. The problem, she says, is quickly getting enough eggnog from suppliers.
The move to very rapidly respond to consumer complaints isn’t unusual. Last spring, after the company began selling its lemon cake and pumpkin bread in miniature loaves instead of slices, it got complaints and quickly changed back to the slices.
For retailers in the social media era, instantly responding to consumer gripes is critical. Quick action is especially critical for Starbucks in the holiday season, by far its most profitable period.
Starbucks started hearing eggnog complaints Nov.1 when it began its holiday push at U.S. stores by switching to red cups from its usual. The consumer blowback began with complaints to baristas who had to explain that the beverage had been discontinued, says Mills. It evolved into complaints to its customer call center, e-mails, letters and social media posts on Facebook, Twitter and to its MyStarbucksIdea.com site.
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