I visited three airports today. I always bring my iPhone cable, but today I managed to forget the wall plug. I was sure I’d need to recharge my phone at least once during the day, but since I wasn’t staying overnight and airports all have those USB outlets now, I didn’t worry. The plug section really wasn’t needed, right? Wrong! I must have tried at least ten different USB outlets at each stop only to find that none of them worked. Most of them seemed to be loose, while others had either been purposefully gutted or vandalized. Only a handful even appeared to be in working order. I received the expected amount of resistance when inserting the jack, but no charge was forthcoming. Those were the most frustrating ones of all. Everything else about my traveling experience was great. The flights were on time, the employees I encountered were courteous and helpful, and the airports were clean. Working or not, USB ports have nothing to do with getting me to my destination on time. And its not like I paid money to use them – they’re provided as an ancillary service, an extra, an unadvertised perk. So why am I so aggravated? Because I expected them to work. Past experience had led me to understand that these extras were available to me at any time. It never occurred to me that they might not work. By willingly providing for an unspoken need, and placing them so prominently, airports created an expectation in my mind. And once that expectation was formed, it became an entitlement. Just as I expect to be offered pretzels on the flight, I now expect to find an operable charging port for my phone. Small gratuities, offered consistently, breed expectations. Unmet expectations breed dissatisfaction. I wondered if anyone at the airport ever checks the charging ports to see if they’re working. Then I thought about the perks I’ve been offering to my customers. How many of them have become expectations? Are there small things that I take for granted that have become big things in the minds of my customers? I once worked with a lady who changed banks because hers stopped giving out free popcorn on Fridays. Could I potentially lose a customer because of something unrelated to my core business? Absolutely. What about you? What little niceties does your business provide? What would happen if you suddenly stopped providing them? I’m not suggesting that you shy away from the little extras that set you apart from the competition. I’m simply suggesting that you be mindful of the expectations you set. Pay attention to the small things lest they become big problems.