It’s a Cajun term loosely translated to mean “a little something extra” and it’s a powerful business and personal concept. We’ve all been taught to meet or exceed customer expectations or to deliver the WOW factor – but lagniappe goes one small step beyond these concepts. As a matter of fact this concept can, and should, be applied to not only customer interactions, but also to interactions with co-workers, shareholders, support teams, suppliers, friends, children, and spouses.
My wife and I are currently on our way back from Cape Cod where we attended a meeting earlier in the week and we were treated to lagniappe a handful of times during our trip.
The first time (really should be plural) was during our stay at The Liberty Hill Inn in Yarmouth Port, MA. During our two day stay, proprietors John and Chris not only did the usual inn stuff (greeted us with wine when we checked in, provided a delicious breakfast each day, and gave us several ideas for activities to make our time there more enjoyable) but they also 1) offered to drive us to the ferry (and pick us up) so that we could save the $30 parking fee 2) provided us with fresh sliced ginger when they found out my wife is prone to motion sickness 3) gave us some delicious ginger chocolate chip cookies in a zip lock bag for our travels AFTER we had checked out.
The next time was in Boston during check in at the Kimpton Nine Zero hotel. I dropped my wife off so that I could return our rental car. But I wanted to make sure the room was ready so I went with her to the front desk and left the car in the care of the hotel valet. When we sorted out the room, I left my wife and went to the valet who had gone through the effort of turning our car around so my departure would be as easy as possible. He would have gotten a tip for just watching the car – instead, he provided lagniappe (he got the tip as well).
The next time was during our stay in Boston on the back end of our trip. It was cold and raining and our daughter had come in from NYC to spend the weekend with us. On an Uber ride back to our hotel our Uber driver passed up the normal drop off point to take us around to the side of the hotel where there was protection from the rain and the wind – even though he would have to travel down the alley to turn around and then make his exit onto a busy street – made more difficult by a traffic light about 10 ft away – no extra tip, no extra fare.
We experienced lagniappe at The Jared Coffin House on Nantucket when they sent up a bottle of Prosecco to our room in honor of my birthday AND when they helped a neighbor of ours arrange for a gift to be picked up and waiting in our room upon our arrival.
We experienced lagniappe from Bob Pollack when we visited his clothing store on Nantucket and we listened to him give all the credit to his business partner and his suppliers, and we listened to his passion for the clothing he was selling and his passion for the world of retail. Then we experienced Bob sizing us up with a look and a short conversation, and he immediately figured out what sizes we would wear, what colors we would like and what clothing he would recommend. Then he proceeded to do everything for us – to make our experience enjoyable and easy.
And, we experienced lagniappe when the three of us attended a Mixology Course at Harvard (yep – we love to learn – and we can now say we attended Harvard!). The teacher could have provided a sufficient experience by teaching us to make various cocktails and giving us some helpful hints (which he did). Not content to leave it at that he also taught us some history of various cocktails and alcohols AND taught us business lessons on the marketing of various drinks and brands AND taught us how to put our own twist (no pun intended) on various cocktails AND how to make up a cocktail from scratch without a recipe (these exercises involved developing a strawberry shortcake cocktail and then a s’mores cocktail – each from scratch).
We also experience lagniappe from our daughter as she took us out to lunch and invited us to her hotel room for breakfast. And we experienced lagniappe from our son as he stocked up our house with water for our return from our trip and checked to see if we needed anything else.
My wife and I made coffee for each other during our trip (see, it doesn’t have to be big).
Try looking for lagniappe as it’s given to you – and providing it where you can – whether business or personal. It’s a very powerful, and inexpensive, way to provide that one-step-beyond-wow factor.