Outsourcing Surprise & Delight

The act of comping, or compensating, customers by occasionally giving them free drinks is a fairly routine action by Starbucks coffee shops as a way to Surprise & Delight their customers. It’s such a small gesture yet one that has big payoff. Surprise & Delight. The perfect description.

This morning a manager at my local starbucks told me that with their new rewards program, they are no longer allowing employees to comp drinks; the card system takes care of that automatically. Once you purchase 15 drinks, you’ll get a free one. But doesn’t that go against everything that ‘Surprise & Delight’ tries to achieve? Why the decision to suddenly outsource the personal connection? Now there is no surprise, only expectations—and instead of delight a mere system of card-swipes.