Understaffed Starbucks Hits A Nerve

Starbucks Upscale Push

Over the past few years, retail coffee chain Starbucks has implemented a mobile order-ahead option to expedite service and improve consumer engagement. The goal was to make the ordering process easier, but a new survey has revealed it is not quite working out as intended.

Understaffing is a major issue that has been plaguing Starbucks for some time, and Kevin Johnson, Starbuck’s new CEO, opted to survey the company’s workers on Coworker.org to get to the root of the problem. Details from the survey showed baristas were struggling to keep up with pick-up stations during peak hours. Executives are saying this is likely a direct result of the mobile order-ahead service that cuts into already busy morning commuter hours.

Following two consecutive quarters of U.S. traffic declines, Starbucks sought to make its processes more efficient, thus giving managers a way to boost staffing and customer service. Dubbed North Star, this effort has not seen the success executives had hoped for — and the inefficiency is due to understaffed locations.

“All of our metrics show we are moving in the opposite direction of what the survey claims,” said Reggie Borges, Starbucks spokesman.

While Starbucks has added a 15 percent increase in staff to its stores and is looking to add more down the road, 75 percent of polled workers said locations were not staffed to meet the North Star standards. Within the last three months, 62 percent of employees shared that the understaffing issue is impacting quality customer service.

It appears the addition of mobile order-ahead at Starbucks, while a good idea for the customer, has not been the best initiative for employees. The mobile order-ahead option is effectively doubling staff members’ workloads, but the retail coffee chain has not staffed up to cover the added business.