When I was little, the doctor who gave me allergy shots always let me choose a lollipop out of a jar after the appointment.
My dentist offers a choice of cold drinks when you leave his office.
My mechanic has a bowl of mixed individually-wrapped candies for customers to choose from.
And fancy restaurants often offer you a choice of tiny chocolates at the end of the meal — no charge, just part of the experience.
What’s going on here?
The word for this practice is lagniappe — the Cajun word for “a little something extra” — and it’s a great idea that many wellness businesses would do well to consider. It’s essentially a simple, non-punch card, feel-good approach to a customer loyalty reward program.
Lagniappe is fun
Nearly everyone loves that moment of “Ooh, what will I choose today?”
Lagniappe creates pleasant associations
It’s no accident that all of my examples pair something stressful – the dentist, car repair, the moment the bill arrives at the fancy restaurant — with something completely wonderful that feels like a tiny gift.
Lagniappe can offer teaching moments
My dentist also offers warm cookies when you leave. I said “Wow, I’m surprised you give patients sweet stuff, isn’t that bad for their teeth?”
He said everyone asks him this. And he uses it as an opportunity to reinforce a key message: that the way to keep your teeth healthy is to brush and floss. It doesn’t much matter what you eat – if you don’t brush and floss, your teeth won’t be happy.
Lagniappe sparks word of mouth
That unexpected moment of delight is something your customers will bubble about to the next few people they talk to — priceless word of mouth!
Put it into practice
For better or worse, lots of the things our clients need to do to enhance their health and wellness create short-term stress in exchange for a long-term payoff. It’s the perfect opportunity to consider how lagniappe might improve their experience with your wellness business.
Now, all my examples were food — sweet stuff, in fact.
And some of you’re probably horrified at the thought of offering anything remotely like that to your customers.
Just remember — lagniappe can be anything, food or otherwise, that meets these three simple requirements:
– fun for your client
– offers a choice
That last item is important – you want something that gives your clients a choice.
- Your fitness center or personal training studio could do something as simple as print up a bunch of funny quotes about fitness on business-sized cards, and let them pick their “quote for the day.”
- Your women’s wellness center could have a vase of different-colored gerberas on your front desk and let each client choose one to take home.
- Your healthy lifestyles program could offer healthy dark chocolate bites in various flavors.
- Your wellness coaching program could take advantage of this fall’s apple season. Give your clients their pick of several less-familiar apple varieties. There IS life after Red Delicious! A Northern Spy or Macoun or Arkansas Black is a totally different experience.
Share your ideas below (and of course your email always stays private).