I hear a lot about things going “viral” these days.
Now, I do hear about the epidemics out there….that’s pretty serious.
This isn’t what I’m thinking about this morning, though.
What I’m thinking about is when something becomes popular on the internet….and then it’s popularity quickly grows as more and more people start talking about it and checking it out…and then more people start checking it out….and then….
The thing becomes “viral”.
I don’t know how you do that.
Usually, it’s something like a swimming cat that everybody has to see.
Swimming cat videos usually explode in popularity.
I don’t know why that is.
I heard a short radio segment about businesses that were doing things that were really above and beyond the expected customer/business relations the other day.
In one of the stories, a father and son were waiting to get in to see the NFL draft.
They were sitting outside, in the cold, when a cab pulled up and the driver got out and gave each of them a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate.
The concierge at the hotel they were staying at…a hotel that was 4 miles away…had sent the cab over because he thought they might be cold.
I doubt that you’d find that kind of care in any employee manual.
It’s not something that they teach at any employee training that I’ve ever been at.
But, it’s the kind of thing that goes….and I was trying to think of a way to describe it and the best way I could figure out was….”soft viral”.
It’s not some giant wave of activity.
It’s not like the rabid appreciation people show for a swimming cat video.
People don’t go crazy over a random act of kindness.
It is something that builds on itself, though.
It’s “soft viral”.
You don’t even know that you’ve been “infected”.
The care that someone shows for you….gets passed on….eventually.
Then, maybe, you talk about the nice thing that happened to you when you stayed at that nice hotel….and then someone else has a chance to go there and maybe experience something nice, too.
There’s a line in a recent Ben Stiller movie called “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” where Ben’s character, Walter, has finally, after a long journey, tracked down a photographer, played by Sean Penn, at the top of a snowy peak.
One of the photographer’s comments was “Beautiful things don’t ask for attention”.
It’s these quiet bits of customer service that don’t ask for attention….but that command it… that make an impression that spreads…that go viral in a gentle and small and persistent way.
When people have the energy and the creativity to go beyond what’s expected…and deliver something memorably wonderful…that’s pretty amazing.
Our lowered expectations make these moments really stand out.
We don’t expect good customer service…that’s not in our lexicon of expected outcomes.
When we get it, it deserves to go viral.
It deserves a place…and a corresponding action….in our own “everyday” lives.