Sunday, February 24, 2008


I’ve always thought the service we offer at Hardwood Artisans to be unsurpassed. But I’ve recently learned that even we can improve. I didn’t experience the ultimate in service anywhere locally; I found it half way around the world in Southeast Asia and throughout the entire journey there.

My wife and I have been amassing airline miles for years, in hopes that one day we could take a dream vacation. But life gets in the way of living and we never got around to planning our trip until faced with the possibility of the miles expiring. She and I, being the products of frugal ancestors from the Old Country, could not let that happen. So we finally decided upon our itinerary that was partially based on figuring how far we could travel in first and business class. The results: Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, and Cambodia.

Being a working stiff, I’ve only flown economy class and never realized the level of service in premium classes was so different. We were especially impressed with the Asia-based airlines. We were greeted by name, offered drinks before we even had a chance to sit down, and served food on stylish china. I think if we’d asked to be tucked in for the night, we would have been happily obliged. The flight attendants were always smiling and acted as if pleasing us was their goal in life. For months I was dreading the longest leg of the trip, the fourteen and half hour flight between Vancouver and Hong Kong. But after being wined and dined, pampered and coddled, I felt like I never wanted to leave the plane.

Little did I know that the level of service I experienced on the flights would pale in comparison to Thailand itself, where they seem to have taken customer service to an art form. We were checked in to the hotel by smiling faces and greeted every morning by more. A special coffee request? No problem. Leaving for the airport early, before breakfast? A box of goodies was packed up to take with us. By the second day, the ladies in the dining area already knew the kind of beer or soda we wanted to drink.

People and businesses alike outside the hotel were equally accommodating. A tailor willing to make a custom suit and shirts in forty-eight hours? No problem. He even took the extra time to re-stitch two seams that I approved but he wasn’t happy with. Boxed everything beautifully for shipment back to the States and delivered the package to the restaurant where we were dining. That is service. Will I return to that tailor if I’m back in Bangkok? Absolutely. Nor will I hesitate to recommend his services to anyone I know.

This is what I strive to do with all my customers: impress them enough that they want to return and refer their friends. I try to remember names and preferences and accommodate each request, within the parameters of the furniture item they’re interested in. It’s not always possible, but I do try to do it with a smile. I genuinely want happy customers, not so much because it’s good for business (though that doesn’t hurt), but I think it’s because it’s my job, and I want to do well at it. This is what makes me happy. Perhaps there’s a little of that Thai attitude in me after all.


Anonymous said...

I like your attitude and, in fact, feel very happy for you and people who work with you. I had a very nice experience as a customer of Hardwood Artisans.
Good job!
Elaine Haver

Mark Gatterdam said...

Hey, thanks for the comment. I do feel fortunate to have this wonderful group of people surrounding me.

Anonymous said...

I have forwarded the e-mail from Hardwood Artisans to all my friends. Hopefully, you'll get more customers. And I recommended to check out your blog as well. You may get some requests for the tomatoes (ref: of march 10 comment) :)

Mark Gatterdam said...

Thanks again for the comments and the support. The tomatoes start rolling in around mid-July, by the way.