A couple of weeks ago, we faced the daunting task of setting up home in Abergavenny in South Wales. Besides all the hiccups associated with creating habitable quarters, I was not going to have my turbo charged cappuccino machine from home to serve me my morning “wake up” potion. There was one consoling factor. Our new abode was a stone’s throw away from the Caffe Nero in the heart of Abergavenny.
Caffe Nero is a ubiquitous coffee chain in the UK and beyond. When Gerry Ford, an American founded Caffe Nero, his philosophy was pretty simple – “Premium Italian coffee. A warm and welcoming atmosphere. Good food and great personal service.” I think he was bashful in his use of the word “great” in personal service…he should have used the word “superlative” instead.
Fast forward to our move. I walked into the store early am to be met with the most welcoming smell of freshly brewed coffee. As I grabbed a sandwich and walked towards the counter, the lovely barista took the sandwich for toasting and with the biggest smile and most sincere voice asked if I wanted something else. As I rattled off my request for toasted panettone, a couple of cappuccinos and the newspaper, she asked if I was new to the area. When I mentioned we were just moving in from Crickhowell, she proceeded to ask where we lived in Crick and how she was a neighbor there just around the corner. As the hot food emerged, and she rang up my purchases, she wanted to know if we were ok with the move, if we needed any help and support and more. Finally, she took my frequent purchase card and provided three extra stamps (our good luck charm for moving in).
As I walked away from the store with my breakfast in hand, I was a bit giddy with excitement. As a foodie, I was psyched to have such a delicious breakfast in my hand, but more importantly, I was floored by the service I had just experienced. Coming from the New York/New Jersey area, personalized service is a rarity in European terms. Even in situations where employees have been trained to ask for the name of a customer or to be friendly, it appears more coaxed than genuine.
And here, there was genuine effusiveness. Warmth and affection which probably were typical to the Nero culture but left me feeling so welcome into our new home and town.
During our move, we made repeated visits to the store, staying in sometimes and carrying out food at others. The staff changed, our meals changed, but what was a constant was the genuine affection of the team and of course the awesome cups of coffee.
Thank you Nero. You have no idea how much you and your team helped. We look forward to many many more visits