I had a transcendent customer experience in Greggs this morning. Upon arrival at work, i googled Greggs to find that Jake Gyllenhaal is a fan - i respect his work more than ever. So Jake, if you ever find yourself out of Hollywood work, you could consider adding even more magic behind the counter at Greggs.
Customer Service Lessons learned while buying a sandwich from Gregg’s
There’s nothing like a bacon sandwich to fix a long night and a foggy morning. While I confess to being a bit fussy about a bacon butty, I’m not so snooty as to turn my nose up at Greggs when I’m having that kind of day. Today, I actually came away with a sausage sandwich but a completely new respect for the brilliant people behind the counter at Greggs in Blackheath Village.
Blackheath Village is quite a posh bit of London. Chocca block with artisan bakeries and fine eateries, this is a neighbourhood where people will not flinch at spending £5 on a loaf of bread or £4 on a children’s ice cream. Gregg’s is a bit of a reverse oasis – you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s presence on the highly curated village high-street was a bit of culinary rough surrounded by foodie diamonds.
But today I didn’t have time to wait in a long line gazing at the freshly tiled walls of a stripped wood floor deli for my hand reared bacon to be cooked by a person in chef’s whites and sandwiched between some artisan sour dough. Today I needed intravenous carbohydrates with the speed and convenience that only Greggs can deliver.
I was certain my carb lust would be sated, but what I hadn’t expected was the level of service. The queue moved at light speed and I was ordering my sandwich before you could say ‘pigs might fly’. I asked the man serving me if he had any crispy bits of bacon – I said I was prone to pickiness – he cheerfully started showcasing his available bacon, piece by porky piece, while I shook my head rejecting them all as insufficiently crispy. I am not entirely without self-awareness, I was not proud of my precious approach to pork. I sincerely apologised to the man asking if I could switch to ordering a sausage sandwich as none of his bacon passed the crispy muster. His response has stayed with me all day “Don’t apologise for knowing what you want. It’s your money and it’s your choice, we want you to be happy.” He delivery was so zen, unaffected and sincere. Had i started to think that a high price point equates to good service and vice versa? Maybe, but this morning made me re-think. I have known people spend six figures on home re-modelling to be bitterly disappointed with the service offered by building contractors. I feel Greggs may be starting a quiet revolution, remodelling our expectations on service - sandwich by sandwich. It was the best £2 I’ve ever spent on a sandwich and a lesson in customer service to us all.
If you do not love Greggs, you do not love life. There is something comforting in mass-produced fast food – that you can find the exact same flavour, from Rhyl to Rotherham, in a sausage roll or a McNugget or a Frappuccino – but Greggs transcends that taste nostalgia into something more: chummier, somehow, straightforward, no messin’. Going to Greggs on a hangover and getting two sausage and bean melts plus a custard doughnut is the most efficient and least pretentious way of filling your body with pastry that there is. That’s where Greggs excels. It’s fuss-free, simple scran: it’s the action of your mate’s nan making you an inelegant ketchup sandwich, only pulled large and taut and turned into a 1,650-shop UK-wide chain. Jake Gyllenhaal knows this, bless him, with his beard.