I learned a new French/Cajun word recently in working with one of my clients (Lafayette Schools Credit Union): lagniappe. It is the French word for “extra.” For example, if you’re cooking up some great Cajun gumbo, you might add a little lagniappe (something extra in your kitchen) to kick it up a notch.

In creating their unique member service experience, Lafayette Schools Credit Union wants their employees to offer something extra at the end of every transaction. In other words, they want to give their consumers some lagniappe.

“Our vision is that we want coming to our credit union to be like seeing an old friend,” said Connie Roy, CEO of Lafayette Schools Credit Union. “And that means doing something for them that they might not have expected.”

In other words, they are seeking to “wow” their target audiences. Is it working? So far this year, their credit union is experiencing 11% member growth. Sounds like lagniappe gets some extra results as well.

So how can you “wow” consumers at your financial institution? Consider these 10 ideas:

  • Making half of the last car loan payment for your borrower—When someone pays off their car loan they are thrilled. Make half of their payment and watch that smile on their face grow even larger.
  • Bringing flowers to a home loan closing—Buying a home is a big deal (and also filled with lots of paper work). Make the new owners proud with a nice bouquet for their kitchen table.
  • Providing small gift certificates on someone’s birthday (like a $5 Chick-Fil-A gift card)—Don’t just say “happy birthday” to them (everybody does that). Instead buy them lunch.
  • Giving dog biscuits in the drive thru—This is a classic tactic many financial institutions do. Dog owners will love you if you love their dogs.
  • Washing car windows while someone is waiting in the drive thru—Remember the old-timey full service filling stations where the attendant would pump your gas and wash your windows? While you can’t give them a full tank of gas you can wash their windows.
  • Providing cold bottled water on a hot summer day—It’s simple but it works.
  • Walking a consumer to their car with an umbrella on a rainy day—No one likes getting wet when they are running their banking errands. Go that extra mile on rainy days.
  • Offering a small piece of candy or mint after a teller transaction—Nothing puts people in better moods than sugar. That’s why they call it a sugar high.
  • Placing a phone call after the transaction to thank them for their business—Follow-up is they key to success in any business. It takes all of 20 seconds to leave a thank you voice mail yet that message can brighten someone’s day.
  • Greet consumers enthusiastically at the door—“You had me at hello,” is a famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire. Rather than saying “next” or wave the person in line over, start your welcoming process by opening the branch door for them.

Those are a few ideas of how to turn a transaction into a wow experience. What other ideas do you have?

Let’s be honest. Most people see banking as boring. Spice it up with a little lagniappe.