Lagniappe is a popular term in customer service circles. It means giving a little extra, especially when unexpected. Most organizations know the definition, but few practice it. It may be the number one way to increase customer satisfaction. I just returned from a poker tournament where I experienced lagniappe. This tournament was an invitation only free roll tournament, which means that it was free but you had to be invited and first prize was $15,000 cash. Oh, and did I mention that the room was also free? But none of that was the lagniappe. All of those things were advertised and when you receive exactly what you expect you are a satisfied customer. But your goal should not be satisfied customers. What you should be striving for are advocates. An advocate is someone who goes out of their way to sing your praises because you exceeded their expectations.
Back to my story. When we registered for the tournament we were given our choice of a watch (which was my choice) or a World Series Of Poker Chip set. What a wonderful surprise. The retail value is probably $100 and they gave away a thousand of them! Now Harrah’s in Las Vegas has a thousand more advocates than they had a week ago. How many advocates has your company added to its customer list this year?
What would Harrah’s have gained if they advertised the free watch? Almost nothing. Maybe, even a few customers may have complained that the watch was too cheap, lousy design, etc. But by holding something back they surprised us with something we did not expect.