Customer Experience: 12 little things that make a big difference

by Stan Phelps

in value / maintenance matrix

[Originally featured on my guest post over at]

A dozen ways to go the ‘extra mile’

Roger Staubach once said, “There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.”.

Extra mileAre you doing the little things for your customers?

Giving Little Unexpected Extras (GLUE) shows you care.  Today we’ll focus on the ‘12 Most’ impactful ways you can provide ‘little extras’.

There are a dozen different types of marketing lagniappe.  Half are based on ‘value’ and half are based on ‘maintenance’ according to the value / maintenance matrix:

vm matrix

Here are main elements of both:

Value (the what and when of customer experience)

  • What are tangible and intangible benefits that your service or product provides?
  • Does your product or service go ‘above and beyond’ to exceed customer expectations?
  • Are you giving that little unexpected extra to ’surprise and delight’ your customer?

Maintenance (the who and how of customer experience)

  • What is the buying experience like for your customer?
  • Do you make things turnkey or simple for your customer?
  • Are you responsive to problems / issues for your customer?


#1. Throw-ins (value) – little extras that are included with your product or service.  They help you stand out in a ‘sea of sameness’:

Southwest Airlines – ‘Bags Fly Free’ and no change fees on Southwest.southwest change fees

#2. In the Bag / Out of the Box (value) – little unexpected things that are added as a surprise.

Maggiano’s – order a pasta dish and Maggiano’s will pack an additional one up for you to take home on the house.maggiano's pasta

#3. Sampling (value) – give your customer an ‘additional’ taste by offering a free ‘something extra’ on the house.

Bigelow Tea – order a box of tea from Bigelow and you’ll be treated to a sample of another flavor on the house. Bigelow Tea

#4. First & Last Impressions (value) – you have two chances to make an impression.  When your customer comes through the door and right before they walk out, hang up or log off. These little extras make you memorable and more importantly ‘talkable’.

Hard Rock – When you check in the Hard Rock will let you sample a Gibson guitar.  Check in, plug-in and rock out.hard rock check in and rock out

#5. Guarantees (value)  – giving your customers that ‘little extra’ pledge that you’ll stand behind your product or service.

LL Bean – Leon Leonwood backs his product . . . for a lifetime.ll bean guarantee

#6. Pay it Forward (value) – give a ‘little extra’ back to the community.

Plaza Cleaners – if you are out of work and need a suit cleaned for an interview, Plaza will clean it for free.plaza cleaners

#7. Follow-up call (maintenance) – make the ‘little extra’ follow up with your customer.

Rite Aid follows up with a call to check on a patient.rite aid

#8. Added Service (maintenance) – the ‘little extra’ that’s an added unexpected service.

Safelite repair or replaces your glass, but they also vacuum your car and clean your windows.safelite repair

#9. Convenience (maintenance) – what ‘little extra’ can you add to make things easier for your customers.

Amazon – Frustration free packaging that’s hassle free and good for the frustration free packagin

#10. Waiting (maintenance) – all customers hate to wait.  If its inevitable, how can you do a ‘little extra’ to make it more bearable.

Pacific Cafe – while you wait for your table, enjoy a glass of wine on the house. pacific cafe san francisco

#11. Special Needs (maintenance) – acknowledging that some customers have needs that require special attention.

Rainforest Cafe – the restaurant caters to the needs of customer by doing a ‘little extra’ for those with food allergies. rainforest cafe

#12. Handling Mistakes (maintenance) – admitting that your wrong and doing the ‘little extra’ above & beyond to make it more than right.

Nurse Next Door – this nursing agency in Canada takes the idea of ‘humble pie’ literally by delivering a pie when they make a mistake. nurse next door

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here is the inspiring father and son story of Rick and Dick Hoyt.  They epitomize the ‘Extra Mile’:

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Customer Experience: 12 little things that make a big difference | Customer Experience Marketing |
August 13, 2011 at 8:20 am

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lisa August 12, 2011 at 7:19 pm

I think #12 is the most difficult and most important. You have some very good ideas.
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..Twitter Tips by Request =-.

2 Stan Phelps August 13, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Thanks Lisa. Everyone screws up . . . its inevitable. It’s how you deal with it that make the difference. Doing the little extra can shift a negative into a positive.

3 Ethan August 19, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Wow, the things companies do to rise above their competitors. These are great ideas, that could definitely catch customer’s attention. I give a lot of credit to those people who thought about these ideas. I can’t say I didn’t get ideas from this post.
.-= Ethan´s last blog ..How To Pick Up Girls =-.

4 Kimberly Nasief-Westergren September 18, 2011 at 7:28 pm

I love the Nurse Next Door philosophy. I also had no idea about RiteAid. That right there might be enough to make me switch from Walgreens. Great post.

5 Stan Phelps September 20, 2011 at 9:12 am

Thanks Kimberly. Let’s hope that service from Rite-Aid scales across all pharmacies. Caring never goes out of style.

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