Remember when you were first dating? Remember the first time you really “liked” someone and wanted them to like you in return? If you are like me, there was a tingle of excitement and the desire to put forth extra effort.
In business as in personal relationships, that extra effort is the lagniappe principle. Lagniappe, pronounced la napa, is a word which originated in the Quechua language and was Frenchified in New Orleans. The concept is giving something extra. Giving more than expected could mean an extra service, bonus products, or even an unanticipated discount.
Wayne Dyer, internationally renowned self-development authority, said “It is never crowded on the extra mile.” How true it is. Doing “just enough to get by” has become more common in society than searching for ways to implement the lagniappe principle.
Service clubs such as Rotary focus on “service above self.” Rotarians exemplify the lagniappe principle by constantly giving of their time, talent and resources to help others simply for the sake of helping. This spirit of giving extra and helping without ulterior motives is lagniappe in action.
Lagniappe in Business
Forbes relates that outrageously successful companies are obsessed with excellent customer service. These mega successful companies implement the lagniappe principle by providing superior customer service.
Shortly after the release of the iPad, a new iPad was returned to Apple with a sticky note “Wife says No.” Shortly after it is reported that Apple returned the iPad to the customer with a sticky note “Apple says Yes” with a refund check for the full price of the iPad.
Cindy Crawford’s Meaningful Beauty Company always includes bonus products with every order. Frankly the products are so good that I would continue to purchase without the upgrade to priority shipping and the bonus products. With those lagniappe principle perks, I not only purchase more but also refer others.
L.L. Bean graciously refunds or replaces without question to accommodate customers. In store, online or on the telephone, L. L. Bean demonstrates their generous return policy.
Have you ever experienced a customer who takes advantage of your company? So has Zappos. She orders expensive shoes from Zappos, wears them around the office all day, and returns them for a full refund that night. Why does Zappos allow her to continue to abuse their generous return policy? The rave reviews they receive for their generous return policy generate more positive vibes than even the best marketing campaign.
Bad, Better and Braggadocios
Customer service runs the gamut from bad to braggadocios; reference the earlier Forbes article depicting the New Yorker as the “less than desirable” and L.L. Bean as braggadocios customer service.
We all know bad customer service. That is the “Please listen carefully as our options have changed” recording. After endlessly waiting and pushing buttons, you finally push”0” for operator and hear “That is not a valid option.” The recording starts all over again. If you are fortunate enough to reach a human, you may reach your frustration maximum and blurt out “Will you please connect me with someone who speaks English?”
Kick it Up a Notch
Brainstorm with your key leaders. “What can we do to deliver braggadocios customer service?” “How can we implement the lagniappe principle? Compile a list of ten suggestions. Choose one to implement immediately. You may be amazed at the customer responsiveness. Implementing the lagniappe principle is not a ”do it once and forget it” concept. Equate braggadocios customer service to riding a bicycle; it is a developed skill.
Shop your own customer service. Remember the popularity of the mystery shopper? Just because it has faded from media focus does not mean that it is not a very valid practice.
Be braggadocios. Implement the lagniappe principle. Your bottom line and your customers will thank you.