Six Sigma at Starbucks
Starbucks is a coffee-making giant in the retail sector that has experienced tremendous growth and profitability since inception. The company’s success to an extent that its renowned as one of the leading coffeehouses across the globe is attributable to its relatively effective business operations and processes. Starbucks Coffeehouse has a huge customer base that has contributed to a significant market share and competitive advantage. This coffeehouse targets customers from all walks of life and provide coffee products for a wide range of customers based on their needs and preferences. However, the firm’s major customers are urban and affluent populations, especially on-the-go white-collar professionals who want to take coffee to their workplaces (Bowman, 2016). This target population is Starbucks’ favorite customer given that the firm considers its major customers to be educated professionals with an average income of $90,000. Additionally, Starbucks targets customers who are looking to relax with a tasty and enjoyable beverage. The priorities of these different customers include to enjoy a tasty drink when relaxing and enjoy coffee while working in order to boost their energy levels.
An important aspect of Starbucks’ profitability and success in the competitive retail store sector is its business process. There are three major aspects of the firm’s business process that are geared towards delivery of tasty beverages to customers. These three elements are order placement, processing the order, and delivering the beverage to the customer. Once the customer visits the store, he/she orders and pays for the kind of beverage he/she wants. Upon receipt of the payment, the store processes the order (i.e. makes the beverage) and delivers to the customer within a period of 5 minutes. This process has acted as the cornerstone of Starbucks’ operations as the firm seeks to provide excellent customer service within a relatively short period of time upon order placement.
Despite the role of this business process in Starbucks’ profitability through the years, the company faces the need for lean improvement of operations in order to enhance customers’ experiences and satisfaction. This need is demonstrated in the firm’s mission to ensure their customers enjoy their beverages and experiences at the store. Additionally, recent customer feedback has indicated the need for improvement of customer services and the quality of beverages produced at the store. Since most of Starbucks’ customers are on the move, the speed of order processing should be enhanced without compromising the quality of beverages produced by the company across all its stores.
In this regard, a suitable Six Sigma project for Starbucks would focus on reducing the wait times per each customer, friendliness of the staff, and improving the quality of beverages. According to Collie (2016), Lean Six Sigma is a crucial component in the modern business environment, particularly retail operations because of today’s consumer-driven culture and society. For Starbucks, the project should entail handpicking of the coffee beans before they are placed in the machine for roasting while the milk is steamed. This will help in improving the quality of beverages by ensuring that high-quality raw materials are picked for processing. Secondly, while the firm’s business process suggests a 5-minute wait time per each customer, the huge number of customers visiting Starbucks’ stores have made it difficult to maintain this time period. Therefore, Starbucks should increase the number of machines that are utilized in processing the orders or making the beverages. Through increasing the number of these machines are rearranging the stores to accommodate the new machines, Starbucks will achieve speedy processing of orders, which will in turn lessen wait times. Finally, the firm should conduct staff training on delivery of excellent customer services and introduce a reward scheme through which the best employees in customer service are rewarded based on customer feedback.
Bowman, J. (2016, June 16). Who Is Starbucks’ Favorite Customer? Retrieved April 3, 2017, from https://www.fool.com/investing/2016/06/16/who-is-starbucks-favorite-customer.aspx
Collie, E. (2016, November 1). Coffee and Lean Six Sigma: Reimagining the Potential of Industrial Engineering. Retrieved from University of Pittsburgh — Swanson School of Engineering website: http://www.pitt.edu/~eec58/3.pdf
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