Monday, May 2, 2016

You Get What you Pay For

When my husband picks up a drink for me, it sometimes
comes with little notes from the baristas who made it.
Last week, I was sitting at my favorite Starbucks -- the one where I know all the baristas except the newest hire -- and an off-duty barista sat down at the table beside mine. She was working on an assignment for school -- an interview -- and asked if I'd mind being one of her interviewees. Since the topic was Starbucks' Frappucino Happy Hour, I figured I could speak reasonably intelligently, so I agreed.

Somehow -- I don't remember whether it was through a direct question she asked, or the conversation we had as a result -- we came back to the value for the price question. This is the one that stumps me whenever I'm asked about it in a customer satisfaction survey and whenever I consider the splurge that is my daily Starbucks habit. No matter how frugal I am in other aspects of my life, I still plunk down more than $4 a day at my local Starbucks. I refuse to do the math in any serious fashion because even without crunching the numbers, I realize there are so many things I could buy if I simply quit my Starbucks habit.

And yet I don't. I love my Starbucks (the drink), my Starbucks (the place) and my Starbucks baristas. It's one of my few indulgences.

But it was only when I went off-topic and told this young woman (as I tell everyone) how much I like Starbucks' customer service model that it began to dawn on me. Something I should have figured out a long time ago.

It's all tied to the price of the drink.
Enthusiasm and encouragement are
never in short supply :-)

Sure, it costs nothing to be nice, and my Starbucks baristas have that in spades. But Starbucks takes care of its employees (or "partners," as the company calls them). They get health insurance, company stock and educational opportunities, along with the typical food service product freebies that help to offset the disadvantages of a job where you work as hard as a barista does. And they earn more than minimum wage.

That's why my daily drink costs more than $4.

When I plunk down that chunk of change -- or, more accurately, use the bar code on my phone -- I'm helping to improve the life of the person behind the counter. I'm contributing to the fact that she has health insurance for her family, that he can go to college, that she can advance in the company that hired her and invests in her training.

And I like that idea. After all, considering how well they treat me, it seems only fair to return the favor. And it seems really sad that all companies don't want to invest in the very people who are creating their success.

So, the next time I fill out one of those surveys, I'll have to think a bit more about my value for the price rating. Sure, I'd like it if my daily drink cost less.

But would I really like it if my barista friends suffered because of it?

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