Starbucks is trying to make its stores in the UK friendlier to parents with young children.
The chain is stocking its stores with emergency diaper kits and training baristas to safely warm milk bottles, help women find private places to breastfeed, and assist families in locating open tables and high chairs, among other services.
“Essentially, our employees are trained to help parents, whatever their need,” Starbucks spokeswoman Linda Mills told Business Insider. “It’s a fantastic program.”
The program was launched this month in partnership with the UK’s National Childbirth Trust, a parenting charity. Mills didn’t say whether the services would be brought to Starbucks’ US stores.
Ahead of the program’s launch, baristas at Starbucks’ 800 locations across the UK were trained to help identify and preempt parents’ potential needs.
For example, baristas were instructed to help parents who are seen struggling with strollers and high chairs, and assist them in finding an open table, according to NCT.
Baristas have also been encouraged to inform parents that they can use Starbucks’ app to order and pay from their tables. Employees will then deliver food and drinks to them, so they don’t have to approach the counter or stand in line with their children.
Starbucks employees received training on warming milk bottles, as well, using a steaming pitcher half filled with hot water and a 15-minute timer. For customers who want to warm milk on their tables, baristas have been instructed to offer venti mugs half-filled with hot water.
“We want all of our customers to have a good experience at Starbucks and we recognise that parents out on their own with very young children, sometimes for the first time, appreciate some support,” Rhys Iley, vice president of operations for Starbucks EMEA, said in a statement.
Many of the mothers taking their kids to Chick-fil-A are millennials — 18- to 35-year-old consumers who chains from Chick-fil-A to McDonald’s are trying to attract.
NCT says the program is unprecedented, and it hopes other restaurants and retailers will follow Starbucks’ lead.
“Many struggle with unwanted attention and comments on their feeding method whether it’s by breast, bottle or in a high chair, when out and about with their baby or child,” Sarah McMullen, head of research at NCT, said in a statement. “It’s important that parents feel reassured they have the support of staff and won’t be judged.”
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