The buzz on Starbucks these days is about getting back to their core business: Coffee. Through the Customer Experience lens, their other other core business is Community -- and it's conspicuously absent. In an attempt to process large quantities of hand-crafted lattes in robotic fashion, most Starbucks locations lack the "personal touch".
I discovered one exception when hanging an art show at a Starbucks in the center of Lexington, Massachusetts. This particular location was as close to a corner coffee shop or local pub as one could get. Regular customers were recognized and their coffee preferences embedded in the baristas' brains. Newbies and tourists were greeted like old friends. Artists like me (I'm a CMO the rest of the time) were welcomed to show their work, borrow hanging tools and talk with customers. Despite the winter weather, it was a warm place, indeed.
Customer-centric Marketers, including Paul Paetz of the Anti-Marketer and Marketing Profs have served up some black coffee for Starbucks' team to ponder. Let's hope it wakes them up to the fact that even with exponential growth, the little things still count.