Over lunch with the manager of a craft store, I learned of a customer who regularly brings her ill behaved children to the store. They deliberately break things, tear signage, and in general leave a mess wherever they go. The employees cringe every time this customer shows up with kids in tow.

Last week, the customer decided to take her children to the store’s restroom, and was stopped by an employee. She was told they don’t have a public rest room, and that no non-employee was allowed in the back area.

The customer got indignant, got loud, and harrumphed out. The question during our lunch discussion of this story was about word-of-mouth. Do this woman’s friends know how her children behave? When they hear her story, will they automatically assume the store is in the wrong, or will they understand that their friend has parenting issues?

And, if these hypothetical friends are like our customer, do we want more of these people in our stores?

I don’t shop in craft stores, but I do wish parents of ill-behaved children would be encouraged not to bring them to dine at my favorite restaurants. Hearing about a place that defended my dining experience, by insisting that the parents reel in their kids or leave, might result in great word-of-mouth for people like me.

In Website design it’s common practice to create an anti-persona which represents a vendor’s biggest time wasters, and in hopes of driving off others like him, design a less than optimal experience for that personality. Is there a parallel in the bricks and mortar world? Have you seen this happen? How has it affected the store’s word of mouth?

I welcome your comments.