What's the difference between ordinary and extra-ordinary?
Those little 'extras'!
A common cause of underwhelming business performance (aka – that red ink) is so-so service or just-OK customer experiences. In other words nothing really differentiates the business. This explains why many of us are satisfied clients but not loyal or raving fans. We'll keep looking around because we feel no bond or emotional connection to the staff, brand, purchase or post-purchase experience.
The product selection can be fine. The price can be reasonable. The delivery can be as promised. But that's what any business can do. And that's OK until your customers shop around and find a competitor who puts a little "lipstick on the pig", and somehow makes you smile about what you experienced.
In Louisiana some businesses put a smile on customers' faces via a lagniappe (pronounced 'lan-yap'). This is a little treat, bonus, thank you, or unexpected kindness. And it's usually fun. When people are lagniapped they become emotionally connected to the business and then will Tweet or Facebook and brag about it. This builds loyalty, curiosity, and traffic. It also shows that the owner/manager has been "minding their P's & Q's".
P's & Q's?
This cliché seems to have originated during late 16th or early 17th century in British pubs. Here they would keep track of how many pints or quarts a person was drinking. If you were given a recommendation to "mind your P's and Q's" it was because the employee or owner was paying attention to your behaviour and consumption.
Excellent businesses can do the same by tracking their customers' behaviours such as -
- How often do they purchase,
- How much do they spend,
- What things are they shopping for,
- Who are they shopping for,
- When is the anniversary of their first purchase
This is essentially unsophisticated customer relationship management (CRM). But this information provides an opportunity to lagniappe a customer by thanking and surprising them with a kindness for their patronage.
Karyn Climans, owner of Toronto's www.tail-wags.com/, has replaced or repaired helmet covers for clients at no cost. She has been on Dragon's Den twice.
Robin Porter, owner of Kingston Ontario's www.resolutionstech.com/ , calls clients on special dates (birthdays, family celebrations) and also has thanked them via mailing Starbucks cards. His business has one of the lowest client turnover ratios in Canada.
Taylor and Whitney Simon, owners of Kingston Ontario's www.tayloredtraining.ca/ , take and post photos online of their fitness clients and also recognizes their achievements on and offline through a variety of special recognition programs. They have just expanded their facilities for a third time.
Can you or your staff name your 10 most valuable customers? What about the 10 who have been with you longest? What else, in anything, do you keep track of? Would your staff recognize any of these people?
You can implement your own lagniappe program by starting to 'mind the P's and Q's' of your staff, suppliers, community partners and/or customers. Anyone who helps you achieve success can be lagniapped.
The first step is simply to commit to taking your mindfulness to the next level. This takes one second, as in right now. You know you can do a better job here. We call this inspiration. Then it takes from now on to make it happen. We call this having ongoing motivation and it starts with four steps:
- Implement and formalize your own lagniappe policy
- Have staff involved to pick your first lagniappe targets
- Start in tracking and noting special occasions
- Share these celebrations
Next Blog Tip #3 – Don't Rush the Flush
John-Kurt Pliniussen, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Innovation and eMarketing at the Queen's School of Business, and creator of SalesSalsa.