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Starbucks, having closed all of its US owned and operated stores for three hours last night to retrain its baristas in the art of coffee-making, reportedly is posting a sign in those stores today that reads:

"Your drink should be perfect, every time. If not, let us know and we'll make it right."

According to Forbes, CEO Howard Schultz said that the 135,000 people who were trained last night pledged to uphold "the uncompromising standards and quality that have made Starbucks the world's coffee leader."

The story notes that “instead of dumping shots straight into the paper cups they'll serve to customers, Starbucks baristas are getting back to pouring espresso into shot glasses first … Starbucks switched to automatic espresso machines years ago, but it still takes skill to work them. Baristas have to adjust the grind to make sure a shot doesn't pour too quickly, making it watery, or too slowly, making it bitter. And Starbucks – criticized by the public markets for sales growth that was not living up to expectations, and concerned that the economic downturn could impact people’s willingness to spend $3.50 for a cup of coffee – believed that the three-hour respite was in order.

KC's View:
First of all, let’s be clear. I think that what Starbucks did last night was very smart. It made a statement to employees, and it made a statement to customers, about the importance of quality and the need not to get lazy or sloppy. It was a cultural statement, and Starbucks is nothing if not a cultural icon.

That said, when they asked the employees to make that pledge, I keep wondering if they were asked to raise their hands and say, “I, state your name…” and that they responded, “I, state your name…”

And while I love Starbucks dearly and remain a loyal customer, there are things they have to address. For example, while in Boston this week I went into a brand-new Starbucks and found a small pamphlet on the counter that was a guide to its various beverages. Unfortunately, the cover said it was the “2005 Guide To Starbucks Beverages.” And there was a pile of them on the counter.

Not exactly the right message to send. And, I trust, the kind of mistake that the company wants to make sure does not happen with any kind of regularity.