starbucks philippines is tops in customer care

If there’s one principle that Starbucks as a corporation has become famous for, it’s their tenet of giving the customer utter and complete service satisfaction. It’s what built their fortune. People had gotten tired of surly counterpeople at quick service restaurants, and Starbucks made up for its overpriced coffee by pampering and cossetting customers to an unusual degree, in surroundings that were genteel, warm, and relaxing.

Here in Manila, I’ve generally had a good experience with Starbucks. If you don’t like the way the barista made your drink, or if they made a mistake with your order, they’ll do it over. If you were inconvenienced in some way, you get a free beverage coupon. They hand you your drink with a smile, and if you happen to visit certain locations often, the baristas there make an effort to remember your name and call you by that next time you come in. Depending on the barista, they also remember your favorite drink and ask if you’ll be having “your usual”. (“Hi, Miss Jenny, going to work? Tall Raspberry Mocha for you today?”)

Some weeks ago, I was at the Yupangco branch waiting for my sister when I happened to fill out a customer satisfaction survey form. In it I deplored the lack of Christmas Bearista bears and Peppermint syrup, seasonal offerings we had gotten used to and looked forward to through the years.

I didn’t expect an answer. I suspect such survey forms are displayed only to make customers feel happy that their feedback is being solicited, and I’m not sure if the replies are fed into a CRM database. So I was surprised to receive an email from Rustan Coffee Corporation’s Operations Services Manager Carlo R. Lopez, thanking me for my feedback on the bears and the syrup (he mentioned it in detail, meaning they had actually read the form I filled out), and asking for my postal address so they could send me coupons.

Today the coupons arrived the mail. Not just the one I was expecting, but two.

Letter from Rustan Coffee with two free beverage coupons.

RCC is “an authorized licensee of Starbucks Coffee International”, it says right there on their stationery. RCC is also a “member of the Rustan group of companies”, which is well-known in the Philippines for their Rustan’s department store, which is the most upscale establishment of its kind in the country. They’ve taken their retail expertise and merged it with the Starbucks way to run their operations profitably. I haven’t heard that they are closing locations in the Philippines; in fact, they seem to be expanding, putting stores in newly-opened malls and beside 24/7 call centers.

Here’s another thing – the 2009 planner promotion was such a hit that they ran out of stock. The campaign started maybe five or six years ago, where customers are given a card every November that they fill up with stickers corresponding to a certain number of drinks. Half of the drinks required are the seasonal offerings like Peppermint, Toffee Nut, Dark Cherry, Praline, whatever. At the end of the promo period, the first week of January, there were no planners to be had. Customers were asked to wait until January 16.

The date rolled around. I went the next day – the 17th – with my promo card. I was told that there were no more planners to be had, again. In just 24 hours all the planners were snapped up! I was asked to leave my name with the branch nearest me – which is Rockwell. So I did, and I was given a free beverage coupon to make up for the inconvenience.

I used it the other day at Starbucks Rufino to get a Grande Ice-Shaken Raspberry Mocha. I handed the cashier my coupon. She asked, in a low voice, ”Planner”? I nodded. My order was rung up as a “service recovery”. The machine spit out my receipt. The cashier handed it to me with a smile and pointed out some text at the bottom. “You have another free drink with the “Customer Voice” promo. Just go online to get the code.” The baristas chattered excitedly. A free drink with another free drink? That was rare!


To cap it all, yesterday I got this text message: ”Thank you for making this year’s planner promotion a success. Due to the overwhelming response, we have unexpectedly experienced a shortage of planners. We have placed another order to arrive by March 20. We apologize for the delay & as a token of our appreciation & your understanding we will be including a Starbucks bag with your reserved planner. We sincerely apologize & thank you for your continued patronage and understanding. – strbks r0ckwell”

To sum up, I’ve received coupons for four free drinks, and will be given another freebie, the bag.

Is Starbucks great, or what? This is why I love this place. Not so much for the coffee, which is more milk than espresso anyhow, and frankly I’ve had better. But I keep coming back to Starbucks as a loyal customer for the experience, the ambiance, and the service which is second to none.


Fountain pens, ink, and coffee at Starbucks Rockwell.

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15 Comments on starbucks philippines is tops in customer care

  1. wella
    26 January 2009 at 1:02 pm (4182 days ago)

    Just want you to know you’re luckier than you think you are. The Starbucks here in the U.S. do not give away free drinks on a regular basis. What you’re describing sounds distinctly Rustan’s.

    Starbucks is one of my favorite brands. I got “converted” 10 years ago on a trip to Seattle. I visited the very first Starbucks cafe and my friend bought me a Frappuccino in a Pike Place-themed tumbler. One sip and I was hooked. I don’t drink coffee, but I’ll have a Frappuccino every now and then… as a dessert or special treat. Starbucks elevated the cuppa coffee to a luxury beverage and the humble coffee shop to a hip hangout. I still have my Pike Place tumbler.

  2. TAO
    28 January 2009 at 1:30 am (4181 days ago)

    Yay for the blog being up for so long! I don’t drink coffee but I often wish there was a good tea house somewhere around me. We don’t even have a Starbucks to get a chai latte at here. I am glad to see they are practicing the best way to bring customer back again which is making them happy.

  3. jing
    9 February 2009 at 2:33 pm (4168 days ago)

    in expressway mamplasan ..if thebaristas see that you have a starbucks gc..they just mock you around..they thought you got it for free . we’ll they didn’t know that i bought the gc at valero that my hubby willnot know about it.
    They are racist in the expressway.

  4. ligaya
    9 March 2009 at 2:09 am (4140 days ago)

    yes talk about being racist. my husband, who looks very filipino and bohemian in his style, tried talking to the barista in tagalog every time he was asked for the details of his orders. the barista would always reply in english eh pareho namang “maiitim ang gilagid” nila. he immediately felt the discrimination! later on when he was given his orders, it’s such a contrast to the other customers they called out to for their orders. it was really rude. that’s the branch in timog avenue near panay. tsk tsk… wait till Howard Shultz hear about this!

  5. rj
    28 May 2009 at 1:12 pm (4060 days ago)

    My friends and I went to the Medical City this afternoon to apply for a Nursing job. It was sooooooooooooo hot that we had to treat ourselves for a nice cool java. Guess what????????? I got myself a customer voive receipt. What a treat! It’s actually my third time to get one.hahaha

  6. Jonathan Espiritu
    23 June 2009 at 7:27 am (4034 days ago)

    Hi Ms. Jenny, thanks for that wonderful blog about Starbucks Philippines. I myself work for Starbucks Philippines and its a great pleasure to serve you the best cup of coffee every single time. Thank you mam for the inspiration!

    Jon Espiritu
    Starbucks Team Ortigas Home Depot

  7. dang
    2 July 2009 at 11:42 am (4025 days ago)

    while most starbucks baristas are friendly and accomodating, i recently encountered one who was rude and unpleasant. her nametag said NICA and she works at a new branch on retiro st. corner spkr. perez st. in QC. i’ve encountered her three times already and in all those times, she never smiled and the last time, she was actually slamming my tumbler on the counter while she made my drink! even my sister noticed that said barista seemed mad or pissed off for some reason. i hope the managers/bosses really take notice of their baristas’ attitude because one rude barista will make everybody else look bad.

  8. Mariah
    21 July 2009 at 1:19 pm (4006 days ago)

    Hello ! I need your help badly, i wanna work in starbucks, i love their coffee too. I wonder how can i be an ideal starbucks barista? please help me. Thank you. Godbless po.

  9. Mishap
    7 August 2009 at 4:38 pm (3989 days ago)

    Hey MARIA, if u want to work in Starbucks Philippines, it’s easy to apply , just bring so much confident on the interview. They have a different type/kind of interview, unlike in the other company. It’s like ur in a panel interview there. There’s one interviewer and 10 or less applicants are there. If u pass it, then ur on ur way to be a barista. They will train u. I know it coz i work there for more than 2 years. Just be ready that being a barista is not an easy job. I nearly get fired bcoz of my cash handling problem. U need to learn the cashiering as well as doing the coffee and the Starbucks store standard. Its like ur going to school when ur a new “partner”… There are modules to be answer, the coffee passport to be answer and classes at the support center (head office) on ur first two weeks. And if u do the cashiering when ur a regular employee, when ur over or short of 16php and above, thats an offense and if u get 5 offense, ur fired! Eventhough ur a regular employee there.. And also be ready with the shifting schedule, i thought its easy but doing like this : 6:30pm-4:30am – 6:30pm-4:30am – DAY OFF – 7am-5pm >>> really stressful. There are also store projects to be handled as a barista, like the inventory of merchandise or flavorlocks (the coffees for sale). But what i like there is that there is no boss, they call themlselve in a first name basis. And people are not bossy eventhough they a higher position than u. But not all people are the same, there are some that are rude to other’s. I can’t blame the other customer’s who’s saying that there are rude barista in Starbucks eventhough they’re supposed to be kind..
    Working in starbucks is not forever, they can fire u by getting cash handling offenses, or if others don’t like u (eventhough ur a good worker) . Actually u can just resign, coz manager’s will give u feedback from time to time.

  10. dr. willy chua
    7 September 2009 at 1:38 am (3959 days ago)

    starbuck people support , across makati med, manager, liza, is very discourteous. . .

  11. vernie
    12 November 2009 at 1:58 am (3892 days ago)

    Hi! I just created a social networking site for all coffee and starbucks lovers.
    I am not affiliated with any starbucks franchise, I am simply a Mom who loves coffee and collects tumblers.=) I hope you can join or any of your blog readers is welcom. Thank you.

  12. chi
    17 December 2009 at 12:57 am (3858 days ago)


    i think we encountered the same at that retiro branch! you are right, she is so unpleasant! while the rest of the staff there seems so nice and accommodating, you were spot on in your description.

    really sorry to rant out here but i hope these wayward baristas will consider everything about customer relations very seriously and give a high regard to the brand they carry.

  13. dang
    23 May 2010 at 7:28 pm (3700 days ago)

    hi, chi!

    wow, i thought this girl, nica’s problem was just with me. apparently, she’s rude to other people too. i didn’t see her at starbucks retiro for a while so i thought she stoppped working there. but, a few days ago, i saw her again. she was sweeping the floor. i hope they don’t make her work at the counter anymore because she’s really not fit to deal with customers. they should just make her sweep the floor all the time. or clean the restroom. or wipe the tables. or take care of the garbage. or anything that would keep her from any client interaction, or at least keep it at a minimum.

  14. Bea
    2 June 2010 at 7:03 am (3690 days ago)

    I keep getting those free drink receipts but I keep forgetting to use them. XD

  15. a n
    31 October 2012 at 3:50 pm (2808 days ago)

    why starbucks iloilo drinks taste like ordinary coffee from other near coffee shops,,but when i get back to manila they made my drink the way it should be..plz shortcuts on preparing our drinks we pay a lot.

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