If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

11 May 2006

What's your cookie?

In my day job, among other things, I write articles directed at helping retailers improve their customer experiences. Since my whole life is full of pseudonyms, those are written under the guise of "Suzy Shopper".

This was my most recent Suzy article, and I was so pleased with it that I thought publishing it here might make you all go "hmmmmm," too:

Suzy Shopper: What's your cookie?

Like many of you, I spend more days on the road than I'd care to count, especially during the busy meeting/tradeshow season. Easily more than 100 nights a year in hotels make me pretty much an expert on what works and what doesn't, and a tough customer to impress. I'm not there to be wowed, I'm there because I have to be, and a hot shower and clean sheets are usually good enough. Imagine this: End of a long day (at the end of two long weeks). I order something simple from room service and turn on CNN. Tray arrives promptly, I sign the check, and sit down to eat. On my tray is the quesadilla I ordered. And a warm oatmeal cookie.

I didn't order the cookie.

It was "lagniappe," as my oh-so-southern grandmother would say. A little something extra. And I'm still (three months later!) talking about it. More than a hundred nights a year in hotels, for about 13 years running now - easily more than 1,500 nights. And I've never, ever, ever gotten an extra cookie on my room service tray as an anonymous guest.

Seriously? That's the best $.22 in marketing that hotel ever spent. It won't be special when everyone is doing it, but for now, it's brilliant. Here's the catch: if the tray had taken an hour to arrive, or if the server was a leering jerk, or if the sheets weren't clean and the shower was cold, then the cookie wouldn't matter. Your customers assume you can do the basics, and if you don't, the cookie can't make up for it. But if you're delivering the basics, then what they're looking for - and what they'll talk about - is the "wow." The lagniappe.

So, what's your cookie? What's the lagniappe that you give to your customers? Brainstorm it with your team. When you find it, I promise you that the word-of-mouth marketing is more than worth whatever it costs you. And, by the way, the next time you're in Palm Springs, stay at the Renaissance Esmeralda.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I passed this along to my staff as a reminder about customer service.

Daisy Boy

7:35 PM  

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