DOLLAR BILL Y’ALL: Starbucks Rolls Out Digital Tipping–Engagement Boost Sure to Follow…

Kris Dunn Employee Engagement, Engagement and Satisfaction, Kris Dunn

A while back over at the HR Capitalist, I documented the impact the rise of the cashless society has on Starbucks baristas.  Here’s a taste:

“As a long-term Starbucks patron, I’ve always wondered how bad the kids behind the counter were getting hurt by a cashless society, meaning throwaway change and other types of tips are for the most part a thing of the past, right?  A friend and reader of the Capitalist reports on how you using your #**#*# ****ing Visa for everything, including coffee, is costing a barista near you:

I asked how tips were going now that everyone is using cards for everything. So when she left in 2009, tips averaged about $2/hour extra. So two 32 hour weeks would net her about $128, a big relief between paychecks right? Now, she says, with everyone paying with their damn iPhones it’s maybe $1/hour if that. (Emphasis hers.) So going from about $250 a month to less than half that is significant to our 20somethings who are trying to self-sustain. She added in a fuss about how corporate is even promoting it with their preferred customer cards with perks for frequent customers, who were formerly the best tippers. She said they have a few regulars downtown who throw in a $5 now and then, maybe to make up for all the quarters they used to toss in as though they were more trouble to keep.”

That would suck, right? Well, it looks like Starbucks is doing something about it–introducing digital tipping on your iPhone, suckers.  More from the Verge:

“Starbucks will soon let you tip a barista straight from an iPhone. An update to the iOS Starbucks app, due March 19th, will allow customers in the US to tip digitally with their phones while paying for a coffee. You’re typically free to tip any amount in cash at a counter tip jar, but Starbucks is limiting digital tips to just 50 cents, $1, or $2 through the updated app.

Although the tipping option will roll out next week, it won’t be available on every corner. While there’s around 11,000 Starbucks stores in the US, the company says tipping will only be available at 7,000 of the company-operated locations.”

Of course, that doesn’t do much for all the people like me who pay with a Visa or AMEX and when the kid says, “Do you need a receipt?” I say “No, thanks,” and forgo the tip.  Still, it’s a start and has to give an engagement boost to Starbucks in the stores.  Note the automated tip prompt in the picture above, which I would hate.

Also classic in the Verge post are the comments, including gems like this:

“it’s a $2.50 coffee. I’m not tipping shit. They should be happy on the days i didn’t do what i’m about to do and make perfectly good coffee at home. It’s the companies job to pay a fair wage not the consumer. And i treat my starbucks employees with kindness and understanding.”

Sure you treat them with kindness and understanding.  Right after you say, “I’m not tipping s###.”