Are you struggling, or have you got one, too?

Night after night, the new place down the street from us has one—a line out the door.

It freaks me out a little bit, to be honest, in this era of half-empty… or wholly empty… restaurants. I really couldn’t believe it at first.

Their concept is a simple one. They’re selling nothing fancy or faddish or new. It’s nothing you haven’t seen, nothing you’d be nervous or even surprised to eat, which is why I’m not going to talk about exactly what they sell at all.

I want you to know that whatever you sell, I believe you may be able to get a little o’ what they’ve got. So never mind the menu.

This place has “gone viral,” you could say, in both an old-fashioned and a very modern way:

Though The Kid goes to school nowhere near the place, she says they’re talked about constantly at school— “Did you go last weekend?” “I’m going tomorrow night.” “Meet me there Friday?”

Because we live very near the place, I asked people I do work with about it quite a lot, especially in the beginning— “Have you seen the lines?” “What’s so special about it?” “Think it’s worth all the fuss?”

That’s the kind of (traditional) word-of-mouth all small businesses crave, and its effect blossomed very quickly from who-ever-heard-of-them to who-hasn’t?

They’ve got free wifi…. At most places, this results in a few folks hunched over their computers getting in a little work time or online socializing, but not at this place. This place is crawling with texters and Twitterers and wall-posters, talking to real people sitting with them, and posting for tons more real people to see: “I’m here, where are you? Hurry up.”

If there’s ever a lull in their evening business I haven’t seen it, but I’ve no doubt that’s because of how quickly one empty chair is filled by ten hyperconnected tushes. (*ahem* Not that the tushes are hyperconnected, just the owners of the tushes, you know…)

They’ve got word-of-mouth working for them, person to person. They’ve got online WOM working as well. And then there’s a line out the door, and the line is its own kind of endorsement—a sort of silent, visual word-of-mouth. The line itself, makes the line stretch out the door longer.

Brilliant.

Or is it just luck?

Word-of-Mouth: The Holy Grail of Customer Experience

Everyone knows what it is, but does ANYONE know how to get it?

Let’s talk about it for a few days. The good, the elements that contribute to it, and even the bad (oh, yes—there is a dark side to word-of-mouth).

Let me ask you this to start:

For all the books and websites and gurus who devote themselves to it, how do you feel about WOM for your business? Is word-of-mouth (online or off) something you believe you can help shape?

Do you find it easy to stay at the top of customers’ minds, or does it seem like something you’d best leave to the winds of fate?

 

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson