Always, Always, the Little Things

On a recent business trip to London I arrived early in the morning at Heathrow after a really difficult and uncomfortable ten-and-a-half hour flight. Once the formalities were over, I caught the different tube trains, walked through a typical London rain storm, and eventually arrived cold and bedraggled at my hotel in Bayswater at around quarter to eight in the morning. I announced myself to the receptionist, and told him I knew I was too early, but just wanted to leave my baggage there until I returned a few hours later.

He took one look at me, and immediately said he was bringing em a towel to dry myself because “I don’t want you to catch a cold!” Somehow, this mothering so far from home was just very comforting. A few seconds later he offered some really nice complementary chocolates that were in a beautiful big bowl on the counter, and while I was still eating he busied himself on the computer. He looked up at me and proudly announced that my room was ready.

I was stunned – and completely enchanted. I had not been there for more than three minutes and Bam!… three great service experiences had occurred. I would have forgiven them anything after that, (and I did.) Yes, my room was typical London pokey shoebox size, but I was fine with that. I stood back and admired how well-decorated it was, and tested everything, and it worked nicely. The bathroom was beautiful, and even though I had a view of the street and a tree, in my view it was lovely. I didn’t care to bring up the constant whining noise that came from a construction site, not only because it didn’t bother me after a while, but also because they were so nice to me.

It struck me that in my exhaustion and with some deep cynicism that comes at my age, I was delighted because my expectations were more than exceeded, and life was still wonderful. In fact, I felt so good about my welcome that I had a wonderful warm shower – and then went to church. I changed as a person, and became more open and warm because someone had given me great service.

Now that I am back and with some time to reflect, I am still impressed with what essentially should be expected in all hotels. After all, isn’t it actually called the “hospitality industry”? And why shouldn’t we as customers spending a lot of our hard-earned money get similar treatment from everywhere that we shop? Not only from all stores and supermarkets, but also from banks, airlines, mobile companies, internet service providers, satellite TV providers, security companies, all insurance companies, and everyone else. It’s even worse when I am a loyal customer and never acknowledged or thanked for that.

But that one young man in a business that I was engaging with for the first time made all the difference in less than three minutes because of his warmth, courtesy and empathy, and we can all learn something from him. What can your business learn from that?

I have already written to the Shaftesbury Hyde Park International Hotel to thank them, and to personally thank Divyesh*, I gave them a glowing rating on hotels.com., TripAdvisor, Twitter and LinkedIn, and have already had some responses from total strangers who have said that next time they are in London they will try it out. And, of course, I’m looking forward to the next trip when I can go back again – and not only for a dry towel and some nice chocolate, but for some happy memories too.

*His name means “Sun” in Hindi, which I thought was just spot on.


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