Bryan Buckley, contributing writer

As a business consultant, I travel across the country. Each place I visit leaves an impression on me. I would like to share an experience I had while traveling to New Orleans a few years ago, after Hurricane Katrina had ripped through the city. I was there to meet with some small businesses that were experiencing some of the roughest times in their history. As I came off the plane and walked through the airport, I noticed a sign that said, in large bold letters, “Recover, Rebuild, Rebirth.” It caught my eye, and the message resonated with me throughout the visit.

While in New Orleans, I learned a word that is common in their culture: lagniappe. It is a French word that means “a little something extra.” To apply the word, one provides more than what is expected or promised. It is a tradition in Louisiana and other southern areas.

How can you apply lagniappe in your professional or even personal life? You may be familiar with a baker’s dozen. If you order a baker’s dozen of doughnuts, you will get 13 although you only paid for 12. That little extra makes you feel pretty good.

Two other examples of lagniappe:

See’s Candy: When you walk into their store they offer you a free sample of chocolate, often enticing you to purchase more.

Great Harvest: When you enter, they offer you a slice of fresh-baked bread. Often, you will buy even more bread.

These companies understand the correlation between exceptional customer service and business success. Studies show that customers are 46 percent more likely to stay loyal to your company or brand when they receive a “little something extra,” compared to those who receive just exactly what they paid for.

I’ve taught dozens of small businesses to apply this principle to their customer service model and they have seen great results.

Don’t own a business? The same idea can be applied to your personal life. Go the extra mile, give a little more.

Whether it is with your family or others, I am confident the results will be positive. Consider applying the principle of lagniappe to take your professional and personal relationships to the next level.