Editorial: Details

The old saying is that the devil is in the details. There is a lot of truth to that because, in many cases, one little thing can mar an otherwise satisfying experience. Of course, there can be an angel in the details, too. Which brings me to two recent experiences.

We were in Orlando last month at Konica Minolta's Vision 2009, which was held at the Walt Disney World Dolphin. We've stayed there before and it's a pretty nice hotel. On the whole, it was an enjoyable experience—except for one little thing.

We consider in-room coffee a necessity and there were indeed a coffee maker and coffee fixings in the room. The problem was that the coffee maker was one of those single-cup deals, but the coffee packet was designed to make an entire pot. The result was a first cup so strong that it would strip paint off of a car. The second cup wasn't much better, but after running two single cup cycles the third cup was okay. The fourth cup was pretty weak.

I called downstairs and asked about the coffee setup.

"Yes, it is a one-cup coffee maker, but the coffee pack is enough for three or four cups."

"But the first cup is undrinkable."

"I'm sorry, but that's all we have. Shall I send up room service?"

I declined room service, with its delivery fee and 17% gratuity, but what really sticks with me is the memory of that stupid coffee setup.

On the other side of the coin was our recent dealings with an outfit called GermanDeli.com, which I discovered handles three of our favorite foods—Nuremburg bratwurst, Swiss rosti, and Swiss fondue. We placed an online order for all three with two-day delivery.

The next day we got an email saying that one of the items would not be available until the following Monday. Should they send the two items they have in stock or wait until the third one came in and send everything at once?

We told them to wait and commented that this was pretty decent service. After work, we noticed we had a message waiting on our home phone. It was a personal call from their Texas office to make sure we got the email. The food turned out to be great, but it probably tasted even better thanks to that little detail.

I guess the point is that nobody sets out to irritate a customer, but it happens. The flip side is that if you really work hard to please a customer, that can happen, too.

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