"These are not my pants!": A Loyalty-Building Story for Salespeople

"These are not my pants!": A Loyalty-Building Story for Salespeople

{#24 in the series of the 25 most useful sales stories}

“Hello. I’m Mark Bowser, and these are not my pants.”

If you’d been in one of Mark Bowser‘s customer service training classes in Indianapolis in the late 1990s, those are the first words you would have heard him say as he introduced himself.

His explanation was just as entertaining. To hear Mark tell the story himself, click the play button above. Short on time? Read the summary of our conversation below. 

Mark’s seminar was being held in the Hyatt Regency hotel, so naturally that’s where he stayed the night before. Well, sometime that night after he checked in and was safely ensconced in bed watching television, he started having a nagging feeling. As he tells the story:

I kept hearing in my head “Check your suit, check your suit.” So I crawled out of bed and looked in my bag. I found my suit jacket right way. And then I quickly realized, “Ahh, I don’t have any pants!” Well, that sent me into a panic. “What am I going to do?” The only thing I could think of was to retrace my steps since I arrived. Maybe they fell out of my bag.

So I went back through the parking garage, the lobby, and the stairs—no pants. As a last resort, I went to the front desk and sheepishly asked if anyone had found any pants and turned them in. They said no but told me the hotel had some clothing shops on the main floor that would be open in the morning if I wanted to buy some. They told me what time they opened, and of course it was too late for me to make it to the seminar on time.

I was just about to walk away when one of the other clerks who overheard the conversation interrupted. “Sir, did I hear you correctly that you need a pair of pants? Because I have some of mine in the back office. I just picked them up from the dry cleaners. You’re welcome to borrow a pair for tomorrow.” They didn’t fit perfectly, but they were certainly better than nothing. I thanked him and wore them all the next day! It was the most amazing customer service I’ve ever personally experienced.”

Mark never did find his pants. But as a motivational speaker and trainer in sales and customer service, he does find lots of opportunities to tell that story. It’s the kind of over-the-top service story you might expect from Nordstrom. The most obvious use for such stories is to teach other employees within your company what great customer service looks like.

The Lesson

But it’s the not-so-obvious use that I’m more interested in here. If these stories can teach employees how to deliver customer service, they can teach existing customers what to expect from customer service. The purpose of doing that is to build loyalty—to keep your current customers from even considering going anywhere else.

Practically speaking, of course, only rarely would hotel guests realize they’ve lost their pants. A story like the one above isn’t supposed to communicate to hotel guests that they should come down to the front desk to borrow a pair of pants. It just reinforces the notion that this hotel has unbelievable customer service. Why would you want to stay anywhere else?


Find your most outrageously positive customer service stories and share them with your existing customers on a regular basis—in sales calls, emails, newsletters, or notes slipped into invoices. You’ll keep more of the customers you’ve worked so hard to earn.

You can learn more about Mark at markbowser.com.

Source: Sell with a Story: How to Capture Attention, Build Trust, and Close the Sale, by Paul Smith.

Click these links to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or Podbean.

Paul Smith is one of the world’s leading experts on business storytelling. He’s a keynote speaker, storytelling coach, and bestselling author.

Connect with him via email here. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Sign up for his newsletter here to get one new story a week delivered to your inbox.

LeadwithaStorySmith--Sell cover front w forewordParentingWthStoryCOVER small