There were plenty of vendors at the market by the Rialto Bridge in Venice, Italy, today. There were plenty who had the wares we were looking for, and there were plenty of price points on those wares in the various tents. We had walked around in the rain, and popped in and out of tents, for about 30 minutes before we came across Ivan. With a smile (which I perceived as real, not just plastered on), he welcomed us into his small tent. I looked around and saw some things that appealed to me and asked if he took credit cards. His answer, "Yes, but only if you buy," as he laughed. It was the first smile I had seen by any of the vendors on this rainy Wednesday, and it was welcomed. We said we'd be back ... and we were. After looking around for another 15 minutes, we decided to come back and purchase our souvenirs from him.
He smiled as we came back into his tent and said with a chuckle, "Why did it take you so long?" We made small talk (me in my poor Italian and him in his so-so English) as he wrapped the delicate purchases for their long flight back to Oklahoma (and the rest of the trip here in Italy). As we paid and walked out, he said, "Thank you for coming back. I really appreciate that." It was said with a sincerity that made me feel good that we had actually come back and spent our Euros with him.
Many of the booths that we visited today will fade from memory very quickly, but Ivan and his tent will not. He stood out because of the little things ... a smile, a warm attitude, and even remembering customers out of the crowd.
What are you doing to stand out to those people who are or could be your customers? Will they remember you, or will you just fade from their memory? "Going above and beyond" doesn't always just mean working hard ... it sometimes means a simple smile and a genuine, good attitude that can truly be a rarity at times in today's world.