I recently stayed at a hotel in Amsterdam. It was a good hotel. It scored 20 out of 30 on Google Reviews. 4 stars (and thumbs up) on booking.com. 4.5 out of 5 and 34th (out of 331) best hotel in Amsterdam on Tripadvisor.
It was right next to Centraal railway station, so only 20 minutes from Schipol Airport. The front desk staff were helpful. Check-in was painless. The room had an Apple iMac with cable TV and free internet access. Wi-fi was included. The room was clean. The free toiletries were upmarket. The bed was comfortable. I had a great sleep. Breakfast was above average. Guest services were efficient in organising taxis to my destination.
It had all the makings of a hotel to be thoroughly recommended.
But I still came away slightly annoyed by my experience.
Why? Because for the three days I stayed there this ice bucket remained in the corridor just outside my room. It was a small thing. It could've been picked up at any time by any member of staff passing by. By the cleaning staff passing through 2-3 times a day. By room service attendants. By the night porter checking for door-hung breakfast requests at 2am. And, even worst, by the loyalty programme rep who slipped my new loyalty card under the door.
It's this attention to detail that tainted my experience. Don't get me wrong, it won't stop me staying there again. But its a frustrating example of how a brand sometimes forgets on the smallest of details. And sometimes, for me as a consumer, it tips the balance. Especially when hotels are becoming uber-competitive and collectively raising their game.
Which also means that there's opportunity to make great in-roads into customer experience by doing the small things. Sometimes we get paralysed into thinking that improvement needs a massive overhaul. But sometimes it just requires you saying thankyou to your existing customers for their custom, greeting new customers with a well thought-out welcome programme or recommending to them other products you know they'd just love.
So yes, sometimes you need to refit your hotel and put iMacs in every room. But sometimes you just need to pick up that one, small ice bucket.
Small things make all the difference.