Previously it’s been mentioned in the news that Starbucks would soon be ending customer service functions in Seattle.  For those who wonder what I mean, when customers call or email Starbucks with a comment or complaint, previously a representative in Seattle, located inside the headquarters, fielded this function and responded to the customer.  The New Mexico call center goes live on September 23, 2010.  From that point on, all calls are handled in New Mexico except if “escalated” to Seattle.  Escalation means that there is a problem or concern that requires the attention of a Seattle partner.  The customer service representatives in New Mexico work for a third party call service center and are not partners.

If you are looking to reach Customer Service, here’s the link with contact information:

I want to back up a minute and talk about the place where Starbucks came from in terms of Customer Service.  I can remember well over a decade ago, standing in my local Starbucks and picking up a customer service feedback form that said, “We’d love to hear your thoughts.”  I picked it up and wrote down that I would prefer to hear different music.  Probably, knowing me, I suggested more Tori Amos on the playlist.  Not too much later, in the mail came a free drink coupon thanking me for writing to them.  I was surprised.  All I did was ask for different music.  It wasn’t a complaint.

Starbucks Customer Service, at times, has created legendary stories.  I recommend everyone click on this link and listen to this story telling – Granted, I’m including this for fun, but Christine Ferrera’s storytelling of her relationship with Starbucks Customer Service Department is fabulous.  You’ll laugh and enjoy this:

^ Okay, that link is the highlight of this blog post.  It’s brilliance.

I’ve been worried that Starbucks Customer Service would lose its magic touch in the shift.  We all know the experience of calling a customer service representative, and speaking with someone who knows less about a corporation than the customer.  I also suspect there’s been some confusion in the transition from Seattle to New Mexico.  A twitter friend told me that she had written (via the email link) to Starbucks about not getting bold, and didn’t get any response. One quick tweet to the official Starbucks twitter account seemed to fix that.  I suspect that other resources such as and twitter can perhaps help fill in holes in the Customer Service experience.

Only time will tell if the change is a good one. Yes, I’m worried a little.  Just because you can cut costs in a particular area doesn’t mean you should.