Thursday, October 15, 2009

Au Bon Pain

Au Bon Pain in ITPL, originally uploaded by s_w_ellis.

I remember walking into the latest eatery in the complex where I work, excited about seeing wraps displayed on the visual menu above the ordering counter. Where I live in India, just about every meal has a bread component: paratha, roti, papad or something. There is a Subway down the hall, but they do not have wraps, and just to watch the bread intake a bit, I was ready to try the wrap pictured. I got to the counter and found they had no wraps. But, the sandwich I had was delicious and I decided to give this place another try.

When I came back, I found out they now had wraps. So, I quickly ordered the sandwich I had the other day as a wrap, only to find out they have set menu items as wraps and what I wanted only came as a sandwich. I was ready to walk away when a gentleman came over and asked what I was trying to do. Once he realized how easy it would be for them to make my sandwich as a wrap, the order was made. A few bites into my wrap, the same guy, Prasanna, came by to check if my choice of meal was satisfactory. I told him it was and thanked him for accommodating my special request. Upon his exit, an Au Bon Pain corporate woman asked about my experience and we chatted a bit about customer service.

Customer service in India, at least where I reside in Bangalore and by only speaking to my experience, is fairly non-existent. A horrible time as a customer is what you expect, so you certainly recognize a good consumer moment. This is not just related to food services, as you might sense from my photo of frustration with other stores in this area (like in the photo below). Or, don't even get me started on the police commissioner's office for foreign registration (one more photo down)!

Reliance Digital Service Center
Does it really take this many people to get nothing done?

The Bangalore FRO, Slower Than the DMV
Molecules at zero Kelvin move as fast as these guys

From Florida, Elizabeth, explained to me how this is a major training point for Au Bon Pain's entry into India. I applauded her company's commitment to service and mentioned that I hope that training will continue with new hires.

Oh, and I found out why they did not have wraps on my first visit. Bernard, also corporate, from Boston, informed me that there were quality issues with the first batches of tortillas. It turns out that Au Bon Pain sets up their menus in other countries to only use ingredients that can be sourced within that country. In other words, they support the local economy and cut down on shipping at the same time. This was good to hear.

Subsequent visits have left me happy to be a continued customer. Prasanna remembers me and now asks if I will have the usual. This morning, I became a breakfast patron and when Prasanna arrived for work, he came by to shake my hand and say good morning. It does not take much to feel valued, and I appreciate the effort.

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