Starbucks is designing quieter stores

Photo credit: Suzy Hazelwood

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

When you read posts about restaurants on this blog, the focus is generally on diners who complain about noisy restaurants — places where they can’t converse with others at their tables. These posts have also recognized that service workers are likely disturbed by the loud sounds as well. For this reason, quieter dining places would benefit guests and workers. Thus, it was with delight that I learned that Starbucks plans to make its stores quieter.  

I enjoyed the first line in Daniela Sirtori’s Yahoo!finance article on the design of quieter Starbucks stores. “Starbucks Corp. doesn’t want you to have to shout to order your iced latte,” Sirtori wrote. The article informs us that Starbucks will be including acoustic materials to reduce background noise in hopes to make it easier for people to place orders and for baristas to hear them. It will also lessen the problem Starbucks has had with complaints that customers have not received the food and drinks they ordered. This has been especially true for drive-in facilities. Apparently, noise has interfered with customer satisfaction, beyond people disliking intrusive noises. This includes waiting for an order in the store and not hearing your name called.  

Starbucks will be considering acoustics as it designs new stores, as well as those it plans to renovate. It will be interesting to follow Starbucks’ plans on acoustic design, and see what effect it will have on both employees and customers. The article did not mention whether the present state of unhappiness over the noise situation has had an adverse impact on revenue. If yes, then we can say that “going quiet” could be profitable and other businesses should consider quieter stores.     

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