My most unique (great) customer service experience

L'Auberge du TharLe Haye-Pesnel in Normandy France is not what you’d call a great center of …well… anything.  It’s a tiny town with some 1,300 inhabitants about 60 miles south and a bit west of Omaha Beach, site of the D-Day landing. I’ll remember the place because of L’Auberge du Thar, a pizzeria and scene of the coolest example of great customer service I’ve ever seen.

It was my annual bicycle trip with 36 folks crazy enough to think pedaling a bike all day really is a great way to relax!  I was in the first of two groups to roll into town for a lunch break.  Only two places were even open, so we chose the one with draft beer taps visible from the street.  (What we unanimously agreed was an obvious tie-breaker.)

None of us could speak much French, and none of three folks lounging quite sleepily inside could speak much English, yet there was an immediate upbeat, welcoming vibe.  We stumbled well enough through the nine-item menu and figured out our options.  That’s when the pointing, pantomiming and loud, slow pronunciation of French and English words ensured.

Bottom line, we had a choice of jambone et fromage or jambone et fromage.  (That would be ham and cheese.)  No worries, and besides, we all had a cold beer courtesy of Henri, the bartender.  Meanwhile, Emily the waitress bolted out the door and turned left while Francois the last of the trio bolted out the door and turned right.  Within minutes – nobody even close to ordering a 2nd drink – Emily zips back in with an armful of baguettes from the bakery down the street (which was closed) and Francois follows with a bagful of jambone et fromage from who knows where.

We all got our lunch in record time, and Cindy who really wanted “tomate,” got her sandwich with sliced tomato. 

And with a flourish.  And with a smile.  And with a truly genuine “welcome to Normandy we’re glad you’re here and sure hope you’re cool with ham and cheese ’cause that’s all we got” attitude.  It was extraordinary!

And when you think about it, it really didn’t take that much effort on their part.

They just pulled the whole thing off with a focus on making us happy.  Then the second half of the bike group arrived and we got to watch the same awesome performance again!

The point of the story?  Great customer service is not all that hard.  Why then is it so scarce?