Astonish me – a lesson from a shoemaker

Whenever I come to Switzerland, where I used to live for 10 years, there are a few places I make sure to visit.
One of them is this tiny little shoemaker’s workshop , which is somewhat hidden in a quiet village. This shoemaker is originally from Italy, he has learnt making and reparing shoes from his father.

I bring my favorite shoes that need some fixes or nip tucks. Why do I bother filling up my suitcase with old shoes and bring them around half the globe?

Because the moment I pick up my shoes, I always go ‘wow’.
He astonishes me. EVERY TIME.
Not only he mends the shoes perfectly, but also the finishing is just amazing. He did not only solve my problem – fixing shoes, but he cared about my problem – my old shoes. He could have merely replaced the worn heels, but he always went for extra as if he greatly cared about my shoes. He covered up little scratches, straightened bent leather parts and his attention to the detail is a sheer awe.

This teaches me something about customer experience.
It’s not about marketing. It’s the performance of individuals thriving to deliver the very best – that astonishes customers. Result of this excellence is loyal fans like me – remembering him even half the globe away and coming back to him.

Don’t just satisfy your customers.
Your brand is your performance.
Astonish them.

9 thoughts on “Astonish me – a lesson from a shoemaker

  1. Thanks for the beautiful story. It’s a perfect example of rich experience that could be experienced in relation to a consumer product or a service.

    • Jay, thanks for your thought! Whenever I come back to Europe I feel that there are so much to learn from this European craftsmanship in the context of brand & customer experience.

    • Thanks for your ‘sharp’ question, as usual! 🙂
      Perhaps big organizations tend to have more distance from customers, somewhat they are set up to lack ’empathy’. Employees don’t see the impact of their work in the customer experience. Another reason might be that ‘craftsmanship’ has not been well defined in the context of a big company, therefore craftsmanship is not pursued and not measured. What does craftsmanship mean for an IT staff? What does craftsmanship mean for call centre person?
      What are your thoughts?

    • Oh I just found a great tweet by @ladyxtel on craftsmanship. “Con diligenza, con studio, con amore.”- diligence, study, & love. It’s a principle held by Italian craftsmen on the work one does.”
      So large organizations lack perhaps the ‘love’!! 🙂

      • Thank you my dear! yes, that’s an amazing principle to remember. Chiming in, as I believe this ties in to the principle of mastery- which is to embrace mindfulness. Jon Kabat-Zinn defined Mindfulness as “Paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Personally I take some time off before bed to do some deep breathing, disengage and focus on emptying my mind at the present moment- to have it more “open” the next day. Sleep helps you to discharge neurotoxins (biologically), so why not do the same with your thoughts too before it manifests into physicality? So what will be the equivalent for organisations to embrace “mindfulness” and open-mindedness?

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