My wife and I have been in Paris on a two week vacation, spending the holidays in one of my favorite cities in the world. While the sights, lights, art, food, chocolate (oh yes), and all else this place has to offer have been fantastic, there was one particular thing I really wanted to share with you.
In our shopping for vegetables we encountered a produce shop and a owner/proprietor I will not soon forget. It’s called “Le Potager Mermoz” on 36 Rue Jean Mermoz in the 8th Arrondissment.
The owner, quite simply, delivered one of the best customer service experiences I have ever received, if not the best.
Here are all the attributes he displayed on our visits there:
Proper Greeting – without fail, a hearty “bonjour monsieur“.
Meticulously Arranged & Attractive Goods – so meticulous, that you were not allowed to touch them. And the fruits & vegetables looked SO fresh.
Proper Attire – He wore a clean, bright white coat that screamed “you can bet that I love these vegetables as much as you will love them on your table“.
One-On-One Service – You pointed out what you wanted, and he actually picked it up.
Great Packaging – He individually wrapped every vegetable like it was a delicate bunch of flowers, and packed them lovingly in our reinforced paper bag with string handles.
Patience – While we knew very little of each other’s language, and there were several people waiting in line, he still exhibited great patience while we deliberated (and stammered through) our selections.
Handling Queues– He was very good about greeting customers as they arrived, even though he was still attending to us, and telling them he’d assist them as soon as he could.
Respect – When an older man entered the store (I would guess in his late 70’s), he immediately pulled up a chair for him, so he could be comfortable while he waited.
Positive Attitude – Smiling, gregarious, pleasant – all through the transaction.
Salesmanship – On our second time there, he showed off his recent acquisition of black truffles by inviting us to smell them (gosh, they smelled good!).
Remembering Past Buying Behavior – On that 2nd visit, he remembered the vegetables we bought the time before, and led us to them.
Valued Return Customer Treatment – He also, haltingly but sweetly, made a bit of conversation with us the second go-round, exchanging pleasantries about our general well-being.
Thank Yous and Farewells – A heartfelt “merci“, “au revior“, and “joyeux noel“, all again with the French “sir” equivalent attached.
Proper Manners – When we left, he opened the outside door for us.
Proper Manners, II – As we were leaving, he noticed that my wife was carrying the bag of vegetables. That was not going to stand – he took the bag and handed it to me, and said something in French roughly equivalent to “hey dude, be a gentleman and carry that bag!”.
It was a totally unique experience, and one that left an indelible impression on me. Why couldn’t customer service always be this way? And here’s the kicker – because we were being treated so royally and so graciously, and the produce was so clearly superior, we GLADLY paid well beyond the supermarket rate.
Customer service, done well, is a personal experience – it’s two people, interacting, and benefiting from it. The buyer gets great value, and the seller gets the personal satisfaction of delivering the value. And, if all those elements noted above are part of the process, those benefits and go beyond value, and into the realm of lasting positive impressions, and long-time unfailing loyalty.
I only wish I could put that store, and that wonderful person, on the plane back to the states with us. What will be coming back with us is my memory of that place, and the great lessons I received from the Paris Produce Man.