Starbucks Stumbles With Square

Almost a year ago, Starbucks announced its now-famous partnership with Square Wallet. Starbucks invested $25 million in the startup, and in return Starbucks promised that about 7,000 locations – many in metropolitan areas – would accept payment via the app. The promise was simple: simply tap the app, scan the phone, and walk away from the counter. And indeed, many locations fulfill this promise; but for a company that is so highly focused on customer service, widespread reports of failures after many months of supposed integration come as a blow to the partnership. On many occasions, users ave found the experience of using Square to be awkward, inconsistent, and at worst impossible. Managers and baristas have been found to lack basic training to use the app, even in locations that supposedly support the service. In one instance, a barista even accidentally clicked into a user’s personal messages in an attempt to manually enter the barcode number into the register. Problems might include a lack of wide-spread Square adoption, or an attempt to attempt to fix bugs in real time until the app hits a tipping point and then works seamlessly, much like the original mobile payments app. Starbucks has officially stated that they are “100% committed to Square,” but either way you slice it, any problems with Square integration – whether they’re a result of barista inexperience, technological malfunction, or both – are a knock to Starbucks’ reputation as a customer service-first company, and to the startup itself.