In Louisiana, they call it lagniappe. It’s a wonderful word describing those unexpected little extras we receive now and again.


At the Indianapolis B2B Marketers October panel discussion, a restaurant’s server delivered some lagniappe that doubled as an excellent lesson for marketers. Following a delicious lunch at the downtown Ruth’s Chris, the panelists engaged in lighthearted sparring about the petite cheesecakes provided as the day’s dessert. Panelist Michael Reynolds hadn’t touched his, and he jokingly expressed a preference for crème brulee.


The discussion moved on to more serious topics, then came to a complete halt five minutes later when the server emerged from the kitchen and set a freshly prepared dish of crème brulee in front of Reynolds. He was speechless, and everyone else applauded.


Here’s the thing: the server didn’t stand to gain anything personally by her gesture. It was a group function, and her tip had already been figured into the bill. But she saw an opportunity to demonstrate her employer’s reputation for extraordinarily attentive service.


That crème brulee probably cost Ruth’s Chris two or three bucks at most. The impression it left on everyone in the room was immeasurable. Several dozen marketing professionals won’t forget the simple gesture of kindness and the powerful demonstration of service. And the next time they’re in search of the perfect setting for a group dinner?


Is your organization’s entire team empowered to demonstrate what sets you apart from the rest? Are they primed to listen for opportunities to dazzle your customers? And is your leadership willing to sacrifice three bucks’ worth of crème brulee ingredients to capture thousands in future business?


  1. Indeed this gesture spoke volumes about the server and Ruth Chris empowering their employees to provide extraordinary service. As you also pointed out, this simple $2-3 cost returned immeasurably to those in attendance and will likely be remembered and shared in other circles.

    In a similar fashion but with negative result was one of my personal experience at Starbucks during the Christmas 2014 holiday season. I like Starbucks as well as the next person and frequented them often. So in the holiday spirit I visited my local Starbucks and purchased $100 worth of gift cards as gifts for my co-workers. The customer in front of me purchased a large carafe of coffee, probably for a meeting or something, for which he was rewarded with a free cup of coffee. I thought this was a nice gesture. So when I concluded my $100 purchase I was not offered a free cup of coffee but inquired if I might be likewise treated having made a purchase perhaps 5x the value of the carafe. I was told that was not possible so I then asked for the manager and was also given the same response, that I was not entitled to a free cup of coffee because it “wasn’t company policy.” Without grumbling I simply picked up my gift cards and walked out of the store. I have never returned to any Starbucks store and have since found other coffee I like just as well.

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