This blog post definitely falls under the category of “Who Knew.” According to a report I read on Time.com, women in at least 35 states across America are staging breast-feeding “nurse-ins” at Target stores today at 10am to protest the mistreatment of a nursing mom in its Webster, Texas, store. The protests are also in response to a broader perception that Target is generally inhospitable to women who choose to nurse pubicly in its stores. You can read the details of the alleged mistreatment and Targets mishandling of the ensuing complaint by visiting the original Time.com story at http://tinyurl.com/7khlukl. Here’s a brief quote from the story with more of the details:
“In recent years, the nurse-in — a.k.a., the breast-feeding flash mob — has become a protest vehicle for nursing mothers, a means of banding together in solidarity over perceived mistreatment. In the most recent protest of significant size, moms gathered in Whole Foods stores last summer to express their unhappiness that a shopper had been told to cover up while nursing. (Whole Foods apologized, even offering snacks to the miffed crowds.)
But Wednesday’s planned demonstrations appear to be the most comprehensive to date, with more than 100 nurse-ins scheduled at 10 a.m. local time in at leat 35 states. Michelle Hickman, the Houston-area mom at the epicenter of the protest, will be re-visiting the Webster, Texas, store where she says she was hassled last month for breast-feeding her 5-month-old son, Noah, on the floor near the blue jeans display in the women’s department.” (Source: Time.com)
According to the Time.com report written by Bonnie Rochman, more than 4,200 people have now “liked” the movement’s Facebook page (Target Nurse-in Group). The extensive reach of social media and the power of the Internet have allowed Michelle Hickman and others to quickly rally support and build awareness for this particular cause. Momentum has been driven in part by online media coverage, including an article in The Huffington Post earlier this month. You can find that story at http://tinyurl.com/84v325j. Meanwhile, the Best For Babies Foundation, a breast feeding advocacy group, wrote a story on the subject titled “Target Employees Bully Breastfeeding Mom Despite Corporate Policy.” The story was written after the organization was contacted by Michelle Hickman. In their article, Michelle Hickman is interviewed, providing extensive quotes, and Target offers up a formal statement apologizing for its actions. At the end of the article, Best for Babies gives the reader information for taking action and contacting Target. They also provide links to state breastfeeding laws and for reporting harassment and discrimination.
This entire episode speaks to the power of social media as an ideal set of tools for quickly bringing together like-minded people and preparing them to take action. Depending on the circumstances, it may be action on behalf of your organization, or against it. The situation also points out just how costly one episode of poor customer service can be and how important it is that you have an extraordinary service recovery program in place. There will always be lapses in customer service. It is our job to make sure that that those unhappy customers understand that their feedback is valued and that we plan to learn from their experience. Additionally, every employee needs to be aware that each customer interaction could end up as a social media post or tweet. If the customer is dissatisfied, he or she won’t just tell 10 friends, they’ll tell 250 Facebook friends who each have an additional 250 friends of their own. Word of poor customer service can spread to 62,500 people in the blink of an eye.
So, what if we embraced negative feedback and thanked upset customers for sharing their experiences with us, and for helping us to improve our operations? Would that mindset change the quality of our interactions with unhappy customers? I think so. We’ll never make everyone happy, and not everyone wants to be happy or made whole. Some people simply enjoy ranting relentlessly against quality organizations. You’ll quickly learn who those individuals are. But the other 99% want to feel good about the brands they do business with – including your hospital. By listening and bearing witness to their experience, you open up the opportunity to transition them from an unhappy customer to a brand advocate.