Starbucks’ app issues are getting worse, and it’s costing them $44k every month

Matt Miller
Customer Success Manager
October 18, 2023

Starbucks has a very popular app. You probably know this. Maybe you used the app last week and joined in on the PSL 20th anniversary celebration. I had my one PSL for the year last Wednesday and it was as tasty as always. I’m not a hater.

A sudden uptick in complaints about being unable to log in

The Starbucks app is well-rated: 4.9 stars from 978K ratings in the Play Store, and 4.8 stars from 257K ratings in the App Store. But there seems to be a consistent complaint from users that they are unable to log in to the app, especially after the frequent forced updates. And it’s getting worse. At Enterpret, we are passionate about customer feedback, so we ingested data from some of Starbucks’ public customer data sources, trained our models to identify what customers are talking about, and did some digging. Pretty quickly I found a distinct cluster of complaints touching on the interconnected topics of logging in, managing passwords, and updating the app.

Have a look at the time-series chart:

Starbucks customers care enough to provide feedback

Whoa. This is not a new set of issues, but the recent spike is dramatic. So what are customers saying? They are unable to log into the app, often as a result of a forced update, and often despite multiple attempts to reset their password:

Something is clearly going off the rails. (As a side note, users are frustrated with these forced updates not only because of the technical shenanigans that often follow, but because they sometimes block transactions.)

Enterpret can help Starbucks understand what customers are saying

Let’s take another cut of the data, by source, to see if we can figure out who these users are:

This gives us an interesting perspective. The big spike in complaints in the middle of September was driven by Apple users… but then the pattern reversed, and in a big way. So… at least they’re spreading the pain evenly? As an Android guy, I suppose I find this kind of refreshing. I’m used to our app versions always being the noticeably buggier ones, or just not existing at all (I’m looking at you, New York Times Audio).

If we want to go even a layer below, we can dig into app versions. On iOS, the issues are happening most often in the three recent releases, with 6.57 driving the big spike we saw.

On Android, it’s the 6.58 version that’s the real killer – clear as day.

The cost of ignoring the data...$44,000 in lost sales

What’s the impact of this? Here’s a little rough calculation.

  • If we look at the period from September 1 onward, and focus on the app reviews (since the larger Twitter data is a bit noisy), we find that around 300 individual users mentioned one or multiple of the above issues
  • The denominator: in that same time period, we ingested ~3,600 reviews from those two sources, so that’s around 8% of reviews where it came up
  • Some small portion of app users actually write reviews, perhaps in the <5% range (according to a few blogs, as well as ChatGPT, who confidently gave me a similar figure but then declined to cite sources)
  • Suppose, then, that around 75 thousand would-be customers tried the app for the first time in our time range, and a similar percentage faced these issues, so 6,000.
  • If all of them threw up their hands and walked away from a $7.35 PSL, that’s $44k in lost sales, just in these handful of weeks.

Would I swear by this calculation? No, but I’m a former consultant so I’ll say it’s close enough. If nothing else, hiring a few more developers is probably worth it, huh? We only worked with the public data, but I’m sure there lots of great information in their helpdesk tickets that would give dimension to these issues (Starbucks, holler at us).

Well, that’s it for today. As always, this was a fun little deep dive exercise, and a few different interesting threads we could have pulled on. Phew, people have a LOT of thoughts about tipping 😳

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We are laser-focused on giving customers more than they expect through a hospitality-first, individualized approach to drive retention and loyalty. Enterpret has allowed us to stitch together a full picture of the customer, including feedback and reviews from multiple data points. We now can super-serve our loyal customers in a way that we have never been able to before.
Anna Esrov
Vice President of Customer Experience & Loyalty
Enterpret allowed us to listen to specific issues and come closer to our Members - prioritizing feedback which needed immediate attention, when it came to monitoring reception of new releases: Enterpret picked up insights for new updates and became the eyes of whether new systems and functionality were working well or not.
Louise Sellars
Analyst, Customer Insights
Enterpret is one of the most powerful tools in our toolkit. It's very Member-friendly. We've been able to share how other teams can modify and self-serve in Enterpret. It's bridged a gap to getting access to Member feedback, and I see all our teams finding ways to use Enterpret to answer Member-related questions.
Dina Mohammad-Laity
VP of Data
The big win-win is our VoC program enabled us to leverage our engineering resources to ship significantly awesome and valuable features while minimizing bug fixes and" keep the lights on" work. Magnifying and focusing on the 20% that causes the impact is like finding the needle in a haystack, especially when you have issues coming from all over the place
Abishek Viswanathan
Since launching our Voice of Customer program six months ago, our team has dropped our human inquiry rate by over 40%, improved customer satisfaction, and enabled our team to allocate resources to building features that increase LTV and revenue.
Abishek Viswanathan
Enterpret's Gong Integration is a game changer on so many levels. The automated labeling of feedback saves dozens of hours per week. This is essential in creating a customer feedback database for analytics.
Michael Bartimer
Revenue Operations Lead
Enterpret has made it so much easier to understand our customer feedback. Every month I put together a Voice of Customer report on feedback trends. Before Enterpret it would take me two weeks - with Enterpret I can get it done in 3 days.
Maya Bakir
Product Operations, Notion
The Enterpret platform is like the hero team of data analysts you always wanted - the ability to consolidate customer feedback from diverse touch points and identify both ongoing and emerging trends to ensure we focus on and build the right things has been amazing. We love the tools and support to help us train the results to our unique business and users and the Enterpret team is outstanding in every way.
Larisa Sheckler
COO, Samsung Food
Enterpret makes it easy to understand and prioritize the most important feedback themes. Having data organized in one place, make it easy to dig into the associated feedback to deeply understand the voice of customer so we can delight users, solve issues, and deliver on the most important requests.
Lauren Cunningham
Head of Support and Ops
With Enterpret powering Voice of Customer we're democratizing feedback and making it accessible for everyone across product, customer success, marketing, and leadership to provide evidence and add credibility to their strategies and roadmaps.
Michael Nguyen
Head of Research Ops and Insights, Figma
Boll & Branch takes pride in being a data driven company and Enterpret is helping us unlock an entirely new source of data. Enterpret quantifies our qualitative data while still keeping customer voice just a click away, adding valuable context and helping us get a more complete view of our customers.
Matheson Kuo
Senior Product Analyst, Boll & Branch
Enterpret has transformed our ability to use feedback to prioritize customers and drive product innovation. By using Enterpret to centralize our data, it saves us time, eliminates manual tagging, and boosts accuracy. We now gain near real-time insights, measure product success, and easily merge feedback categories. Enterpret's generative AI technology has streamlined our processes, improved decision-making, and elevated customer satisfaction
Nathan Yoon
Business Operations,
Enterpret helps us have a holistic view from our social media coverage, to our support tickets, to every single interaction that we're plugging into it. Beyond just keywords, we can actually understand: what are the broader sentiments? What are our users saying?
Emma Auscher
Global VP of Customer Experience, Notion
The advantage of Enterpret is that we’re not relying entirely on human categorization. Enterpret is like a second brain that is looking out for themes and trends that I might not be thinking about.
Misty Smith
Head of Product Operations, Notion
As a PM, I want to prioritize work that benefits as many of our customers as possible. It can be too easy to prioritize based on the loudest customer or the flavor of the moment. Because Enterpret is able to compress information across all of our qualitative feedback sources, I can make decisions that are more likely to result in positive outcomes for the customer and our business.
Duncan Stewart
Product Manager
We use Enterpret for our VoC & Root Cause Elimination Program - Solving the issues of aggregating disparate sources of feedback (often tens of thousands per month) and distilling it into specific reasons, with trends, so we can see if our product fixes are reducing reasons.
Nathan Yoon
Business Operations,