Starbucks Computer Outage Creates A PR Win

A nationwide computer outage earlier this week inspired Starbucks to take a bad situation and make it better.

Starbucks coffee bars remained open earlier this week after the company’s computer system failed. A computer system failure means registers were down and baristas couldn’t charge patrons for their morning cup of joe.

Did this minor setback stop Starbucks from giving the people what they want?

Of course it did not.

Starbucks enthusiasts were shocked and overjoyed when many locations not only kept their doors open but began not charging for drinks. Twitter exploded with delighted responses to the surprising outcome of what could have been a sad day for coffee addicts everywhere (PR Daily).

This happy turn of events was the result of a corporate decision that closing stores would likely create a public relations issue.

Unfortunately not every store got the memo.

It seems some stores had already closed shop for the day by the time the decision was made. At least that would be what to hope for, because who would dare deny anyone free iced caramel macchiatos.

This miscommunication beside I would rate Starbucks a ten in its handling of this situation.

The big guys up stairs were probably right in thinking closing shop for a full Friday would distress some Starbucks die-hard-fanatics to the point of no return.

Instead of having thousands of caffeine fiending Americans tweeting angrily for 24 hours about their unquenchable need for a Java Chip Frappuccino® the general response to the whole fiasco was pleasant and cheerful.

I have to say I would give Starbucks an A+ for fast thinking but maybe only an A- for execution. Starbucks may have missed its full opportunity when the company allowed for the only promotion of this unexpected event to happen through word-of-mouth.

This would have been one of those times engagement through social media could have made all the difference. If more people (myself included) would have known it was essentially free coffee day at Starbucks the incident may have received more coverage and had a more lasting effect.


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