A video of a Deaf Florida woman has gone viral with more than 11M views on YouTube. In it, she arrives at the St. Augustine, Florida Starbucks drive-thru window. When the Barista notices she’s unable to audibly speak her order, she pops up on a screen at the drive-thru menu board and they have a two-way chat using sign language.
This is so cool and full inclusion at its very best.
The technology, the empowered employee, and the result of this video captured on cellphone has generated buzz, press and lots of good will for Starbucks. Let’s talk about what Starbucks did right to garner this positive impact:
- It’s authentic. While Starbucks didn’t develop a slick marketing campaign to a launch the video chat, the service enhancement is seen through the eyes of a customer, Rebecca King. This wasn’t forced or contrived and is grainy and honest. While the company hasn’t deployed the video technology yet nationally, it gave opened minds and shifted paradigm in in 45 seconds and within 10 days, millions have viewed the video on YouTube.
- Customer service is the underlying theme of the video. Customer service to consumers with disabilities is the most credible form of marketing. Exceptional service delivery, enhancements and recovery (when things go wrong) garner trust, leading to repeat business. In the video, an empowered employee is free to use all the tools at her disposal to provide a seamless experience for the customer.
- The universal application wins! The high tech video solution was tested in 2,200 stores over the past couple of year to determine if it provided a more personal experience for all customers. It certainly indicates appeal for those who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing who may sign or read lips. This isn’t anything that is ‘special’ but merely a high touch option that humanizes the customer experience for all.
- Starbucks wins. The press and goodwill created by the video has done more for the company than ad buys and media placement to launch the service. National news outlets featured it as a ‘feel good’ story and the video was shared more than 250,000 times from Ms. King’s Facebook page alone. The comments received by an inspired public allows created raving fans and strengthened the brand’s equity.
There is something even more remarkable that is going on beyond the “likes” and “shares”. Countless decisions are being made as a result of this simple and compelling video. Consumers are thinking of Starbucks as a company that uniquely understands the needs of consumers. Competitors are wondering what they can do to position themselves before Deaf consumers. Deaf consumers are most certainly sharing this video within their social networks and making sure that the next cup of premium coffee they buy comes from Starbucks. All of these connections, dots if you will, create opportunities. Opportunities for increased revenue for Starbucks. Opportunities for greater understanding, recognition and respect of the Deaf community.
At SMG, we believe in opportunity. We are in the business of helping businesses understand and connect with consumers with disabilities in ways that are both meaningful and profitable. Give us a call and we’ll help you connect the kind of difference.