Staying memorable to the people you like, work with, and come across in your daily life has always been of paramount importance. Any salesman will tell you that it’s easier to keep a customer happy than lose that customer and have to find another.
It’s also a hell of a lot harder to do that today than ever before. There’s enough options and distractions for our time today to wear out a 6-year old kid with ADHD.
If you’re lazy and you don’t wanna dig deep, I’ll give you the answer to this problem right now…
The Secret To Staying Memorable Is Consistently Committing Small Acts Of Personalized Gratitude For People You Like.
That’s it. Do that shit and you’ll be gold.
You need to hear the whole story, though.
It’s a fantastic story and – to paraphrase Carmine Gallo, author of The Storyteller’s Secret and How To Talk Like TED – information alone won’t make things memorable, you must tell a story.
Today’s story starts on the streets of Bangkok, Thailand while I was on sabbatical earlier this year.
A Flower Grows In Bangkok
Bangkok is charming.
Not charming like Paris – with its hauntingly beautiful Gothic architecture and insanely attractive denizens – but charming like Keith Richards: Doing its best to look hip but it really just comes off as gaudy and smells like cheap booze, grilled meat, and piss.
Nestled amongst the crowded alcoves of merchants hawking fake Louis Vuitton wallets and ladyboys selling, well, whatever the fuck they have, was one precious gem: one of the finest clothing stores and shopping experiences I’ve ever witnessed.
This shop was one of about a dozen bespoke tailors on that stretch of Sukhumvit Road but I immediately knew I wanted to do business with them.
Everything about the store smacked of exceptional customer service that could put Nordstrom to shame. They had it all.
…Attentive, friendly employees who were never cloying, pushy, or overbearing.
…Quick service that never felt rushed or came at the experience of quality or another customer.
…And, most importantly, air conditioning on full blast – a much needed antidote to Bangkok’s punishingly humid weather. Walk around town for an hour or two and you’re sure to be sweating like a whore in church.
This place was fuckin’ great. Their amenities were far better than any other Bangkok tailor I’d visited.
But, that wasn’t why I stayed and spent about 3 times as much as I had intended. (Not to mention sending them loads of referral business over the last 3 months.)
Here’s what happened…
Where Exceptional Service Starts
(FYI: This part of the story totally makes me sound like a hard-to-please white guy with a good job. It’s true…but it’s a cross I bear, you guys.)
Buying custom tailored clothes can be a time-consuming process – it can take upwards of a few weeks to have a suit done.
Basically, you have your measurements taken and then you typically go back two, three, four times for a fitting so they can make the appropriate adjustments so the garment looks perfect on you.
That’s all well and good, except I only had four days left in Bangkok before flying home. Could I get what I wanted in time?
I ordered a number of tailored shirts for Nate and me, along with a suit for me.
The shirts and pants were done in two days flat and looked and fit perfectly. I was really impressed with the craftsmanship and quick turnaround.
The jacket and vest was another story, though.
I love suits and am super picky about the way they fit. At last tally, I had three fittings for the damn thing.
I’m difficult but they said they’d come through.
“We’ll have it done by Tuesday afternoon”, they told me.
“I have to be at the airport by 3PM on Tuesday, which means I have to leave here by 2PM”, I shot back. “Can you do it?”.
They guaranteed it. But, having had countless shady experiences in Bangkok up to that point, I was skeptical to say the least.
I did my first measurements and they told me to come back on Monday for another fitting – just one day before I left. At this point, I was basically assuming I’d thrown away good money.
Suits Made With Soul
Monday came and went – the jacket and vest still didn’t fit. But, they promised they would be done on time.
I came back on Tuesday to pick up my suit – carrying suitcases and all – just two hours before I had to hop in a cab and head back to America.
The suit still didn’t fit well. Like an irate parent, I wasn’t mad…just disappointed. At this point, I figured I’d gotten a dud and would just have to live with it. I didn’t have another day to wait.
“Thank you for all your hard work on this”, I told the tailor. “I’ll just have to get it tailored back in the States. I know my time expectations were too steep.”
Pride & Reputation Are Powerful Motivators
As I grabbed the bag to leave, Sanny Singh – the shop’s owner and a third generation Indian tailor, clearly very proud of his company and professional tradition – asked me to give his tailors just one more hour make the corrections.
“I will walk this to the tailors myself and stand over them to make sure it’s done perfectly. You are our top priority right now.”
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t floored at that point. His conviction and pride shone so brightly at that moment that I couldn’t help but trust him. I knew he meant it and I knew he’d get it done.
“And, if we don’t get it perfect for you, I will ship it to you at my expense”, he continued.
Hell, the cost of shipping alone would have basically made this transaction a wash for him. But, it didn’t matter. His family’s name was on this product and he needed me to be happy.
He pointed me towards a restaurant he recommended and told me to go have lunch and come back in an hour.
As much as I was moved by his sincerity, I still wasn’t totally confident. I ate my Egpytian food and waited skeptically…
Going The Extra, Unexpected Step
Walking back from lunch, I ran into Sanny and a young messenger boy, both walking quickly and stridently towards the shop. The boy was holding a large plastic package.
Sanny said it was my suit and assured me it would fit great.
I tried on the jacket and vest immediately and they fit like a million-fucking-bucks! It felt perfect on me and looked phenomenal.
I gave them all hugs and assured them that I’d be sending my friends into their store soon. They wished me a safe flight as I rushed out to the street to grab a cab.
I tried hailing a cab for 10 minutes and, despite the dozens of cabs zipping past me, not one would stop. I was fucking stressed. Rush hour in Bangkok was nearing and it’s always astounding gridlock after 3PM.
I wanted nothing more than to be on that airplane back to snowy Chicago.
One of the shop clerks noticed me still outside trying to hail a cab and asked what was wrong.
“They won’t pick you up? I will fix that”, he said calmly.
His demeanor quickly intensified as he dialed a number on his flip phone, barking at someone on the other end in Punjabi for a few seconds.
Hanging up, he smiled and assured me that a cab would be here shortly.
Not two minutes later, a clean, air conditioned cab pulled up (an occasional luxury in Bangkok) to take me to the airport.
“Make sure he gets there quickly and is cool and happy…and don’t charge too much”, my new friend authoritatively told the cab driver.
I spent most of the 45-minute cab ride shaking my head and marveling at how much these tailors cared, how much they went out of the way for one customer who didn’t even spend that much money.
They provided me with handsome clothes, a superior customer service experience, got me to the airport on time, and – in some small way – changed my life for the better.
Having never had an experience quite like this in the States, I vowed to write about this experience and tell the story with the hopes that it would catch on in our personal and professional lives.
And, here we are.
Now, let’s talk about why this works so well.
Stop Following The Golden Rule
We’ve all heard some variation of the old adage, “Treat others the way you’d like to be treated”. People usually call it The Golden Rule.
The Bible and many other religions talk about it. Hell, even if you’re a heathen, chances are your grandmother hammered it home since you were little.
And, I think it’s bullshit.*
(*That said, The Bible has the most poignant quote on service that I’ve ever read: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without even knowing it.” – Hebrews 13:2)
Before you think I’m going to go on some Ayn Rand-laced screed, think again.
The Golden Rule is shortsighted and assumes that others want what you want. A quick jaunt to any corporate meeting or couples counseling session will show you how wrong that is.
Instead, Sanny Singh and the sterling gents at Paul Bespoke Tailor upped the ante and employed the ‘Double Platinum Rule’. What the hell is that, you ask?
Hospitality and service professionals routinely refer to the ‘Platinum Rule’: treat others the way they want to be treated.
But, the Double Platinum Rule is a whole different game. It tells you to…
Treat Others The Way They Don’t Even Know They Want To Be Treated
This boils down to anticipating and exceeding the expectations of the people you make company with.
Think about a time when you’ve been truly surprised by how wonderfully you were treated. It could be by anyone. The unexpected, surprise quality takes it to the level of a truly memorable – and in my case, transformational – experience
Truthfully, this shouldn’t be that hard today. People are so used to de-personalized shopping and social experiences that displaying just a dash of decorum and thoughtfulness will set you apart for days.
Making The Double Platinum Rule A Way Of Life
How can you do this in your everyday life?
…At work, even if you’re not the CEO, act like you are. Show the same level of pride, gratitude, and ownership that the founder who started it in his dorm room would show.
…Give from your core. You know what you’re great at and what you’re passionate about. Display service from that place – you’ll deliver a truly unique experience to that person because it comes from an authentic part of you. You’ll both be able to tell the difference.
…Think about what the person might delight in and be overjoyed by – not just what’s good enough.
…If all else fails, treat people how you treat your grandmother. (Assuming you actually like the old gal.)
If you want to learn more about this enlightened form of hospitality, I suggest you read Danny Meyer’s outstanding book, “Setting The Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business”. It’s one of the finest business books available.
Staying Personal In An Impersonal Age
I know that I’m often railing against how impersonal and digitized the world around us. A whole hell of a lot. I get it.
While it is bothersome, there are people and companies out there doing this differently: Zappos, Nordstrom, and Virgin Airlines are all revered for their personalize, high-touch customer service policies – even for the folks who don’t spend that much.
But, you don’t have to be a multinational company – Paul Bespoke Tailor is a small, family-owned tailoring shop in Bangkok who does it better than 99.97% of the companies on Earth. I sincerely believe that.
Hell, you don’t you even have to own a company. You can just be someone who is generous, considerate, and curious about other people and what will delight them. That’s really all it takes, guys.
While our lives have gotten more impersonal, that works in your favor: the lack of personal touch in the world makes it even more effective for those of us who choose to revel in others joy and give of yourself to them. Your gestures will have even more of an impact in the world and you will go noticed, you will stay memorable.
Peace & Charisma,
Dalton K. Finney