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Understanding Service Delivery at Starbucks


Service delivery in the hospitality industry is a great issue of interest and a challenge that continues to face service providers. The hospitality industry continues to receive attention due to becoming highly competitive. Service delivery is one of the difficult tasks hospitality faces due to its unique features such as variability, intangibility, inseparability, and labor intense nature. An efficient and effective service design ensures businesses are able to achieve the goal of excellence in service. The process involves planning and organizing various internal factors that finally make up the delivery service to the end customer. Service delivery is essential in allowing the hospitality industry to create a baseline that ensures consistent service provision to the customer and developing a systematic mechanism that provides a better experience while allowing the organization to understand factors that are effective in terms of service delivery. On the other hand, delivery of delivery of high-quality services is linked to increased profits, savings costs, and creating a corporate image. The reputation of an organization or institution is considered as good as the service provided. This paper will provide a service blueprint that provides an overview of the service process at Starbucks.

Company Profile

Starbucks was established in 1971with a coffee shop focusing on whole bean and ground coffee, tea, and spices in Seattle pike place market. The Starbucks currently serves millions of people with over thirty thousand retail stores in eighty-three markets (Starbucks, 2021). The company started by selling roasted coffee beans which eventually transitioned into serving coffee. The company grew from a humble beginning of owning 17 stores in 1987 to more than thirty thousand stores around the world.

Starbuck service strategy

The service strategy of a business is essential and needs to reflect on different aspects such as the strategic aims of the company, meeting the market requirements, and developing capabilities of the organization’s service resources and processes. Starbucks has created a service strategy whereby they have positioned themselves in the lifestyle of the customer. In ensuring that the strategy is functional the company has furnished its outlets with comfortable seats and provision of electronic equipment. Ensuring that the customer is comfortable while at the coffee motivates the customer to stay longer hence, allowing the company to engage the consumer on the services offered. Starbucks has diversified the service provision and continues to look for more methods of improving service and broadening the customer base. For instance, in the recent past, Starbucks has increased the number of drive-through locations in spaces where the parking space is limited. Consumers chose Starbucks because of the coffee, the people that over service at the company, and the experience gained in the Starbucks different stores.

Service quality in the business environment is considered important to organizations. The service quality in a business is essential in providing a competitive advantage and ensuring sustainable growth. Different companies in the marketplace work towards ensuring service quality mount pressure in order to have a better understanding of service quality evaluation. Starbucks continues to implement its strategies in ensuring the customer is provided with quality services. The Starbucks provides the customers with comment cards at the condiment stations. The comment cards are essential for the business management to ensure they create a relationship with the customer and learn the services that need to be improved to better the Starbucks experience. Additionally, the comment cards offer the customer the opportunity to judge and evaluate the experience they encounter at Starbucks and provide the company with suggestions on services and products. On the other hand, the Starbucks has a guarantee statement posted in their stores which states that customers are a priority to getting the coffee in the manner that they expect it. The company also ensures that if customers are not satisfied with the drink offered then another one is made to the satisfaction of the customer. The Starbucks stores have a policy where the customer can taste the coffee before they make a purchase, through samples provided by baristas (Paryani, 2011).

The Starbucks is continuously working towards getting feedback from the customers through different forms. The Starbuck can get information from the customer through direct feedback at the counter while making a purchase. Information can also be gathered through the Starbucks websites, corporate social responsibility, and handing the customers questionnaires. The different responses provided by the customers are important for the company to identify issues emphasized and that need improvement. The data collected also provides the overall performance of a Starbucks store in different locations. Ensuring Starbucks provides products that are of great quality and reliable services reflect the consideration of customer satisfaction. The Starbucks puts into consideration the customer requirement while implementing and designing the quality and reliability of drinks and the experience at its stores.

Service quality is an essential aspect of the perception customers have about the services offered. Customers tend to perceive services based on quality and the satisfaction they get from the overall experience. Service perception of customer accumulate over a period of time and depends on the relationship between the customer and the business and the continuity of interactions in the future. The customers in most cases tend to evaluate the quality of service based on their personal expectations. Customers are satisfied if they consider the service provided met their expectations or exceeded the expectation and vice versa. For Starbucks to understand the concept of service quality, it is important to understand customer perception (Michelli, 2007). Services can be intangible and take place during the process of interaction between the employee and the customer. The various services provided are described based on characteristics. The different features include intangibility, perishability, inseparability, and heterogeneity. The intangibility is services that are not seen, touchable, or tasted. The services that are consumed simultaneously are categorized under inseparability.

Service Blueprint at Starbucks

The service blueprint is a diagram that visualizes the relationship that exists in different components of a company. The different aspects of the service blueprint include people, physical and digital evidence, and processes that are directly linked to the specific touchpoints in the customer journey while being served (Gibbons, 2017). Blueprints are essential for a business and help in corresponding to specific customers and aligning to the business goal ensuring that redundancies are reduced and customer experience improved. The service blueprint is essential in enabling Starbucks to have a comprehensive understanding of the services offered and the underlying resources and processes. Once Starbucks focuses on understanding the wider picture of blueprints it gains the strategic benefit as a business entity. On the other hand, service blueprints are essential for Starbucks in enabling the company to understand and discover any weaknesses available. Additionally, a service blueprint is essential in allowing businesses to identify opportunities that need optimization. Critical evaluation and visualization of blueprints help in identifying potential improvements and implementing methods through which redundancy can be eliminated.

  • Elements of Service Blueprint

The service blueprint of a business varies in terms of visual forms whereby some tend to be more detailed than others. The different elements of the service blueprint include customer actions, visible contact employee actions, invisible contact, support process, and physical evidence.

  • Physical Evidence

The physical evidence is what both customers and employees come in contact with. Although the physical evidence is the first in line when visualizing the service blueprint, it is usually the last element that is added to the blueprint diagram. The physical evidence for Starbucks entails different features such as the custom-made cup of beverage. Physical evidence also includes a clean and friendly environment with comfortable chairs and sofas for the customers. The Starbucks has also created an alluring menu and tempting coffee picture to entice the customer (Paryani, 2011). The preparation of coffee is made in front of the customer at Starbucks to entice them. The manner in which the pastries are displayed is in a manner that attracts and entices that customer to make a purchase. The coffee seed is placed in a place that leaves the Starbucks having an intriguing smell of the coffee being in the process of grinding. The process creates a pleasant atmosphere for the customer of the quality of the product. Additionally, the lighting in the stores brightens the mood of the space creating a serene atmosphere.

Display of Comfortable space at one of the Starbuck Store

Display of Comfortable space at one of the Starbuck Store






Exterior Parking


Employee dree

Cups for sell

Food and drinks other than coffee for sell

Newspaper for sale


Promotion product information: posters, brochure, comment cards Cashiers Starbucks Exterior Coffee

Coffee addition station

Couch, table, lighting, parking lot
Customer actions

(core activities and experience)

Arrive at Starbucks Wait inline Place coffee order Make payment Waiting for coffee Receive coffee Stay at Starbucks or leave
Line of Interaction
Onstage actions Greet and take orders Process payment Prepare coffee Replenish coffee addition station Clean tables if needed

Take care of customers if they drop coffee on the floor

Line of visibility
Backstage actions Keep up Inventory
Line of Interaction
Support processes Order system POS system Coffee machine

Starbucks Service Blueprint diagram illustration

  • Customer Actions

The customer actions are all the steps that are taken by the customer as part of the process of service delivery at Starbucks. Based on the service blueprint the customer actions are at the top of the visual diagram since they are often created chronologically. The customer actions are essential in the creation of the blueprint and they are developed first to ensure that all other activities are viewed as supporting value proposition offered or that is co-developed with the customer. For instance, Starbucks has created online platforms where customers can visit to make orders and are able to talk to employees. Customers’ actions at Starbucks include face-to-face interaction between employees and the customer. These also include making a purchase, placing an order accepting, and receiving an order.

  • Onstage/ Visible Contact Employee Actions

The onstage or visible contact employee action is differentiated from the customer action by the line of interaction. The onstage element entails face-to-face actions that take place between the customer and the employee. The different activities that take place between the customer and the employee are referred to as onstage actions. The process of customer dealing with computer actions is also carried out once the customer is able to interact with self-service technology for example through a mobile app for Starbucks or company website. For instance, at Starbucks onstage actions take place once the customer walks into the store and is met and greeted by an employee. When using technology an assistant informs the customers of the menu and schedules delivery of the food and beverages orders. During the process of the onstage action, a moment of truth takes place and customers are able to judge the quality of service and make a decision regarding future purchases from Starbucks.

Diagram Illustration of Starbucks Service Blueprint

Diagram Illustration of Starbucks Service Blueprint

  • Back Stage or Invisible Contact Employee Actions

The backstage elements appear above the line of visibility for the customer. These are the different activities that take place behind the scene to ensure that the onstage activities are effective (Tan, 2012). Additionally, the backstage actions can be performed by different employees at Starbucks such as the pastry chef and baristas. On the other hand, the onstage employee can also perform backstage action such as entering the customer order into the system without the visibility of the customer.

Picture showing Backstage actions at Starbucks

Picture showing Backstage actions at Starbucks

  • Support Process

The support process involves the different actions conducted by individuals and units within the Starbucks store that never contact the employee but have the need to take place in order for the service to be effectively delivered (Hossain, Enam, Farhana, 2017). The activities carried out by individuals and units at Starbucks who is not the contact employees are referred to as the support process. The support process at Starbucks entails activities such as sequence service used by the business to ensure queue reduction and contact lea payment such as mobile apps.

Importance of Service Blueprint At Starbucks

The blueprint is important for the business in different ways. The blueprint is essential in helping Starbucks improve service fail points to deliver quality services to the customer. The blueprint also reduces the costs, time, redundancy of random service development. The blueprint is essential in creating a canter point for different unities such as staff management and team members concerned with achieving goals and objectives. Strategic decisions are made through the use of the blueprint and also help in identifying costs, revenue, and capital invested in the different service elements. The blueprint makes it easy for marketing agencies to have an overview of services and allocate essential communication information.

Service Blueprint Experience at Starbucks

The service blueprint at Starbucks has different components that different services and products. To start with, there are the people of people who are directly and indirectly involved in the process of service offered. During the process when employees or waiters at Starbucks offer services and interact with the customer, the attitudes and behavior exhibited can affect the perception of service offered. The perception of the customer about the quality of service provides can equally affect and impact their satisfaction and intentions of purchasing.

The quality of service provided is based on different aspects. The physical evidence in the blueprint is also linked to the surroundings in which the service is delivered (Michelli, 2006). The environment also included the different tangibles that support service performance. The physical evidence includes all the tangibles provided at the Starbucks such as internet presence, brochures, and business cards among others.

The Starbucks provides the customer with spaces that have ambient conditions for comfort. The color used in the interiors, music, and lighting entice the customer. The different features in the Starbuck stores can affect the manner in which the customer feels, thinks, and responds to a particular service. The relaxing and ambient conditions provided by Starbucks help the customer to feel calm. The impact of customer experience is essential for service provision businesses. The ambiance of the space at Starbucks plays a significant role to make the customer stay longer. The type of music and the volume of the music in the service cape can influence the manner in which the customer perceives the service at Starbucks. The color is also important as it communicates and portrays different messages. For instance, green and grey is the theme color for Starbucks which portrays calmness and relaxation. Additionally, the fragrances used in the coffee shop can draw the customer and extend their staying period.

The spatial layout at Starbucks is based on the décor of the space, furnishing, machinery, and equipment used in the process of offering services. The manner in which Starbucks space has arranged the size of the space, shape of items, and the connection between the different items can influence the customer. The service organization is essential hence, Starbucks needs to put into consideration the modern styles of service, and handling bills of customers. The process conveys the aesthetic strategy of the Starbucks stores. The spatial layout can have a significant influence on the customer experience. The spatial layouts provide décor and furnishing that meet the expectations of the customer. Satisfaction of the customer will root from the point that the Starbucks has considered value on what they offer. Hence, influencing the customer behavior, performance of the store, and satisfaction of the customer.

The appearance of the employee while offering services to customers is an important part of service delivery. The Starbucks uniforms are black and green which offers calmness to the customer. The employee uniform and appearance while delivering services are important. Employees’ appearance and uniform is a way through which they represent the company to the customer and the world at large. Customers perceive the value and quality of the company based on the process of interacting with Starbucks employees. The employee that works at the Starbucks stores passes the passion and knowledge and coffee to the customers. For instance, Baristas at Starbucks are expected to be more than just handlers of the coffee making process.

The Starbucks has invested greatly in the training of employees to ensure they are providing quality coffee and are able to learn about different varieties of coffee served at the stores. Additionally, based on the promise statement of Starbucks stores, the customer is in charge of the manner in which their coffee is made and handled hence baristas make the coffee the way the customer wants. The service blueprint at the Starbucks starts with the barista at the counter making a friendly gesture to the customer by maintaining eye contact and exchanging pleasantries. The customer gives the order, and the barista repeats the order out loud. This process at the Starbucks is referred to as the error-proofing technique which helps in guaranteeing that the drink is made correctly.

Step 1:

Place order

step 2:

Take Payment

step 3:

Determine the type of drink

Step 4:

Make the drink and serve

Error-proofing order is repeated

Service blueprint process at Starbucks

Service blueprint process at Starbucks

Blueprint and impact on Service Quality

The delivery of excellent services is the aim of many businesses in the marketplace. Offering quality services is essential in sustaining the customer confidence and maintaining a competitive advantage. The line of visibility in the blueprint separates activities taking place onstage where customers are able to obtain tangible evidence of the service. Therefore, the line of visibility is important in determining the aspects of the service that the customer should experience and the employee that is to be in contact with the customer. The blueprint can be used in improving the design and quality of an existing service. This also provides information for the management to understand the manner in which to operate in the future. Additionally, the blueprint is task oriented and provides a business with ways of dealing with competition in the market. The blueprint enables a business to perform tasks in a way that attracts the customers towards the company’s services.

In conclusion service, blueprints are customer journey maps for organizations and help in identifying the bigger picture of service provision. Starbucks is working towards ensuring that the customer experience at their different stores and online apps is friendly. The Starbucks continues to promise the customer the same premium handcrafted coffee and drink. The customers at Starbucks have been given the privilege of customizing their beverage with the kind of milk they want and are able to choose different types of flavours offered. In improving the online platforms, the Starbucks is working towards reducing the process of customers waiting in queues which can be tiresome. The service blueprint consists of five essential elements that help in determining the quality of service delivery. The different components work in unique ways to ensure that the service is offered effectively and efficiently to the satisfaction of the customer. Different components work together while others work separately by they all support the main goal which is quality service delivery. Every stage of the service blueprint is essential in making the customer experience satisfactory while at the Starbucks store.


Gibbons, S. (2017). Service Blueprint: Definitions. Nielsen Norman Group.

Hossain, M., Enam, F., Farhana, S. (2017). Service Blueprint a Tool for Enhancing Service Quality in Restaurant Business. American Journal of Industrial and Business Management, vol. 7(7).

Michelli, J. (2007). The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning ordinary into Extraordinary. McGraw Hill: New York.

Paryani, K. Product Quality, Service Reliability and Management of Operations at Starbucks. International Journal of Engineering, Science and Technology, vol.3(7), pp. 1-14

Starbucks (2021). Company Profile. Starbucks Stories and News.

Tan, T. (2012). Evaluating Service Encounters: The Effects of Employee Responses on Services Failure and Recovery. International Journal of Education, vol. 2(1).

Zeithaml, V. A., Bitner, M. J., & Gremler, D. D. (2008). Services marketing: Integrating customer focus across the firm. New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill.


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