Do you ever catch yourself looking at a product - a car, a shirt, a bottle of wine, an entree just set in front of you - and notice something beneath the surface? A feature that perhaps you would not have noticed if you had afforded just a passing glance, a component that's barely discernible at first blush, but now that you've caught it, your curiosity is piqued. At this stage, you are not even certain the feature was intentional, but you want to know more. You ask questions, you run your fingers over it, you turn it over in your mind...and as the story of that detail reveals itself, you feel a certain satisfaction.
Satisfaction that could only come in knowing that a person, someone possessing innate passion, creativity, unselfishness even, as well as a genuine respect for the details, wanted to put their mark on your experience. And that if they were just over your shoulder as you picked up that detail, they would revel in having made you pause and remember it, perhaps forever.
For my late father, a scientist and physician, the details were a requirement, and in some scenarios the difference in a life saved. But that attention to detail bubbled over to the respect he paid to those goods and services he, himself, appreciated. Ah, the stories we heard over the years; his love for those certain button down shirts, how they were put together, the feel of the fabric, even the wide access front chest pocket, sturdy enough for his pens and other working accoutrements, these details all so endearing to him that he would make a twice yearly pilgrimage 60 miles north up the SC coast just to frequent the closest outlet.
Or the story about the craftsmen who hand-stitched all of the leather upholstery in his British and often broken classic car - interestingly, he seemed to grow more fond of the car, running or not, after each retelling of that handcrafted detail. Really, from the constant work on his golf swing, to how the family's small boat anchor lines should always be rolled on the dock, not strewn, to his translation, by hand, of every bit of morse code via his amateur radio conversations, translations that were vital in calling up details for his handwritten, snail mail cards back to his conversation partner, often on the other side of the world.
This distinct respect in the importance of detail passed over to many my father touched, including me. Products or services, I am often heartened when discovering a detail that simply does not have to be there, but is.
At my prior company, we were blessed with countless stories by the product designers themselves which revealed sheer beauty in their appreciation for both function and form. And when you caught traces of that thinking even months or years later in the product itself, you would smile and appreciate just a little bit more...
From a simple handwritten 'thank you' on a bill, to the tactile look and feel of perhaps your favorite wine bottle, to frequenting a service establishment that realizes that while they're not able to help you, they would be more than happy to refer you to another entity, even a competitor, that they know can.
Exemplifying some wonderful human characteristics evident in us all, its these types of detail manifestations in a product or service that can linger long after your consumption, and perhaps foster the only kind of respect, loyalty and fulfillment that in the end, matters.