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starbucksidea.pngA year ago, Starbucks asked ” How Would you change the world?” Now they’re asking, how should we change Starbucks?
Like Dell’s Idea Storm, which has generated nearly 9,000 suggestions, My Starbucks Idea allows readers to suggest ideas, vote on the best ones, and see how they are being instituted. Dell promises:

“Our commitment is to listen to your input and ideas to improve our products and services, and the way we do business. We will do our best to keep you posted on how Dell brings customer ideas to life.”

Says the Starbucks blog:

“We are completely thrilled at the number of ideas (thousands!). We are stunned by the level of conversation (half of the top 20 ideas have 50 or more comments each — 50!). We are stoked by the amount of participation (tens of thousands of votes).”

Why did these companies decide to get on the Cluetrain and embrace crowdsourcing customer input through honest conversation?
Dell got on the train after nearly losing its life because of lousy customer service which bloggers and then mainstream media dubbed Dell Hell.
Starbucks has seen its own economic problems, and says it knows its problems were “self-induced.”

Crowdsourcing is a long way from the old Suggestion Box, generally with no pen or pencil anywhere in sight. Will it work at publicly traded companies that must show a profit to shareholders every quarter? Well, let’s put it this way: what they’ve been doing led to downturns. How much they’ll listen, and how many customer suggestions will be put into effect remain to be seen.
I’m bothered by the fact that the suggestions put into effect net no economic reward for the people who created the ideas. That seems pretty old-world to me. What do you think? Posted by B.L. Ochman
Related: PSFK: Crowdsourcing Won’t Work for Nokia & Starbucks