Word of mouth marketing will always be the best form of promotion any mobile food industry operator can expect to achieve. For this reason, the staff at Mobile Cuisine Magazine has decided that we needed to look at the two most commonly used forms of word of mouth marketing; on and offline word of mouth.
Today, in part 1 of this series will look at the oldest and most reliable form of word of mouth marketing that almost everyone is accustomed to, we will be referring to this as “offline” word of mouth.
To start things off let’s ask you some questions to get you started thinking about creating word of mouth recommendations for your mobile business.
Why should anyone talk about your food truck or cart in a positive way?
Do customers talk about your mobile eatery if your food was good?
Do they talk about your business if your service was good?
In most cases the vast majority of people do not spread good things about a food establishment if the customer receives the type of food and service they expect.
Do customers talk about tell others if your food or your service was bad?
When customers receive poor quality food or bad service, this is when many people make sure to let others know about the issues that they have had with a particular food truck or other variation of street food vendor.
Now that we have established that a business owner is unlikely to get positive word of mouth with good service and food, yet very likely to get negative word of mouth for poor service or food, we can conclude that positive word of mouth is much harder to achieve and negative word of mouth is almost an absolute given.
The big question many will have is, why the difference? It is rather simple if you spend any time thinking about it. It is in our human nature to hold onto anger longer than pleasure. We tend to discuss the reasons we are upset far more than why we might be happy about something. Being frustrated or upset by a situation will burn deeply into our memory and we will tend to overreact.
In these cases, the food truck business the primary loser. Yes, the customer may have felt slighted, but ultimately, the business will take the brunt of their frustration in the long run. It often doesn’t take more than a small incident to create bad feelings, particularly when your customer has had a bad day already. You and your customer service staff must be aware of what our customers are seeking. Be understanding and alert as awareness and intuitiveness are key ingredients in customer service. Great customer service comes from paying attention and sensing the moods of everyone that steps up to your truck.
Turning around a situation is well within the bounds of well trained and understanding staff, so all is not lost.
How to create powerful word of mouth is a whole study in itself, but the basics are common sense and logical.
Very often just providing good service or food is not enough to encourage word of mouth recommendations; after all, these things are expected. There needs to be additional reasons for wanting to bring up the subject of where you ate last night and how good it was. Obvious examples are special occasions, such as Valentine’s Day. This could trigger conversations like, “What did you do last night?”…”Oh, we went to <insert your food truck name here>, wonderful food, really fast and friendly, you should definitely try it sometime.”
Although a nice comment, even this type of statement may not attract someone to follow their friend or acquaintance’s recommendation. For word of mouth to be effective it has to have some passion and excitement in it. That means your customer has to have been excited by what they experienced. This, in turn, means that your customer will want to instigate a conversation, rather than just respond to a question they may never be asked.
Hopefully this will make sense to you. Try to remember the last time you were wowed enough by a product or service to start a conversation about it. Very often these situations are few and far between.
How are you going to create sufficient excitement so that your customers want to tell the world? If your customer service is full of passion, that carries over to your customers and can be infectious. Without the passion in your service, how do you expect your customers to get excited? So that’s your starting point, customer service that is full of passion and fire.
Next, ignite the fires of passion in your customer, get them involved and encourage them to join the party. It is much easier to get parties of four or more people to get into the mood. Couples are different, they may well be in their own world. Individuals need more personal attention. Therefore it makes more sense and it is much easier to encourage parties of four or more to become your advocates.
With a little encouragement you should be able to create some word of mouth activity from at least 1 or 2 of the party. Ask if you can take some photos of them in the party spirit. Tell them you would like to place the photos on your customer wall board as well as your blog. (You will need their permission to do this) Offer to email copies of the photos to each of them, so that they can share them with their friends.
For individuals and couples, give them a couple of your business cards each and ask them to pass the cards to a friend or colleague who would appreciate your kind of hospitality, food and service. Incidentally, we recommend a specially printed card for this purpose. It is very rare for a restaurateur to do this and they really are missing an out on an opportunity.
Manage and meet customer expectations all the time. How do you do this? Back up your brand’s claim or promise each time. A good example is:
- Maintain your price range within the level your buyers expect, if you need to increase prices make sure you communicate this to them with a little justification of why you need to do so.
Customer service is the framework where loyalty and trust is built on. This is where your company can really stand out in a different way from your competition. Quality customer service is simply going out of your way to please the customer. It is that extra effort, one sincere action, the personal touch that ultimately affects buyers choice to keep remembering you and recommending you.
In part 2 we will be discussing how to utilize the power of word of mouth online; we call this word of mouse.
Keep an eye out for part 2 to be published within the next week. In the meantime if you would like to share how you encourage word of mouth, go ahead and let us know via the comments button below.