Bridging the Gap: How Starbucks Uses Technology to Create Human Connection

Published On
Jun 14, 2022


Tim Glomb, VP of content and data at Cheetah Digital, recently sat down with Barbara Spiering, VP of marketing technology and quality engineering at Starbucks, to get her take on using technology to foster customer loyalty. For Starbucks, Spiering explains, it’s really all about human connection — even when those human relationships are initiated via technology.

“The goal of technology and my team is to create that bridge between the physical and the digital. So customers feel as seen and known in all of our digital channels as when they walk into the store.”

What does this look like in practice? Baristas use technology to provide a seamless experience for customers. For example, when someone places a mobile order through the Starbucks app, the barista receives that customer’s name and can greet them in person when they pick up their drink. In fact, 60% of Starbucks orders are customized as the company focuses on relationship marketing any way it can.

Another way Starbucks connects with customers is through its digital loyalty program. “For a lot of our senior members, Starbucks rewards members,” Spiering said. “One of the big interactions they’ll see from us and Cheetah is when we send out streaks [such as] ‘Hey, come in four times this week and [get] so many stars.”

Spiering also explains how Starbucks incorporates zero-party data by asking direct questions to get psychographic data from customers and create an ongoing relationship.

“To me [that’s] the biggest strength of technology. It’s not to remove the human experience. It’s to allow it to be richer and to create a vehicle for those conversations.”

View the full interview here to learn more about Starbucks’ relationship marketing strategy.


Jun 14, 2022
Cheetah Digital

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