Have you ever wondered what exactly causes customer loyalty?  Why you’re willing to spend more with certain brands or miss out on perks to patronize another?  Here is the answer—Lagniappe.  Lagniappe is a French-Spanish term used in Louisiana that basically means “a little extra.”  It’s doing a little more than is expected for your customers.

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking to the National Newspaper Publishers Association in New Orleans on this topic – How to Monetize Social Media.  Prior to my presentation, I chatted with attendees, and then I attempted to access the Omni Hotel’s internet to add a couple last-minute details based on our conversations. But soon, I realized that their networks, when accessible, were very slow.  After testing multiple devices with their tech support, I gave up and just tethered from my phone for the rest of my stay.  You would probably think that this would have left a bad taste in my mouth.  However, you’d be wrong.  I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the hotel and would recommend it to everyone!  Why?  Their customer service far exceeded my expectations.  I am currently on a raw-vegan meal plan and expected the hotel chef to serve me regular chopped vegetables for my meals.  However, I was shocked to receive plates that were creative, and obviously constructed with love!  The chef found amazing ways to season my food with natural flavors without using dairy or salt, no-nos on my plan.  I was so tickled at my dinner one night that I was almost moved to tears.  After all, it had been a while since I’d tasted anything so delicious.  The amazing chef at the Omni Royal Orleans completely erased a bad technology experience with a lagniappe!

Upon my arrival home, I contacted T-Mobile, my mobile phone carrier for over 11 years, to upgrade my phone.  However, there was one little issue with the upgrade that I took issue with.   Prior to calling, I knew what I hoped to walk away with, in the way of a negotiation.  I explained my situation to the gentleman in customer service.  Imagine my surprise when he exceeded my expectation, literally, three-fold!  This gentleman will save me over $400 this year!

As a result of my positive experience, I posted my appreciation on Facebook.  Within two minutes of posting my update, a member of their tech team whom I am not friends with, Tmobile Joshm, “liked” my comment.  Now that totally blew me away!  As a social-media strategist and speaker, I am definitely going to use this experience as an example in my talks.

Both of these experiences demonstrate the importance of lagniappe in every customer interaction.  Giving a little more and exceeding expectations can erase negative experiences, increase customer loyalty and create raving fans.