Thoughts on… Customer care

05Mar10

Customer care to us is about doing our best not to kill or harm our customers with food that we know uses ingredients that will do damage to humans, our community or the environment.

You may think that our lofty position on the moral high ground must be constantly giving us nosebleeds, but it’s not really about that.

There’s more to choosing what to serve in your restaurant than simply shoving a load of easy choices into the path of your customers as if on a global brand name conveyor belt.

One of our restaurants – the original – is in Lyme Regis, where many of the town’s cafés and delis have signs proclaiming the use of local produce and homemade products. But there’s nothing local or homemade about Coca Cola, nice as it is. Most places which sell stuff like Coca Cola because they claim it’s what their customers want are just being lazy. What the customer really wants is simply a refreshing cold drink.

The only cold drink we sell is apple juice (the water is free), which comes from North Perrott Fruit Farm near Crewkerne, which has been producing fruit since the sixth century. It’s a blend of Cox and Bramley apple juice, pasteurised but with nothing else added, so all you taste is the fresh, thirst-quenching hit of apple. We chose apple juice because, as our business expands, given that apples grow just about everywhere in the UK we can always be sure of a supply.

In four years of running this business I’ve only once been asked “is there anything other than apple juice?” and when I said no, they said “well then apple juice it is”.

Giving the customer what they want is laziness at best and edging, in my opinion, on criminal at worst. I don’t know how newsagents live with themselves, selling tobacco products.

Customers put their trust in us, but cynicism is a growing trend amongst those who care what goes into their stomach. Hugh’s ‘Chicken Out’ and Jamie’s ‘School Dinners’ campaigns have highlighted how easy it is for suppliers to be seduced into following the money at the expense of the health of their customers, communities and the environment. And they always blame the choices they make on the customer.

We like to think we care a bit more than that about our customers. We don’t want to help them kill themselves with bad food. That would be bad for them, and bad for business.

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2 Responses to “Thoughts on… Customer care”

  1. Ooh this is bit more edgy than the previous two posts, which were actually the literary equivalent of sitting on a cloud while having your toes nibbled by kittens. Who rattled your cage then? Someone ask for a Lucozade with their pain levain? I am expecting essay on why Greggs is the baking world’s spawn of Satan next.

  2. thanks for that


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