I still remember walking into Daniel Pandey uncle’s vegetable shop in Dehu Road when I was a little girl. He had dreadlocks and I would be a little scared to look at him, but I had a free run of his shop. I could pick up green peas and shell them right there and eat the juicy peas or I loved tender French beans. Would just munch on them while Amma and Appa bought whatever they wanted to. That was customer service, Indian style where a shop owner became an “uncle”. Daniel Pandey uncle even knew our extended family :).
Twenty years later, Krishnan and I were married and we landed up in East Delhi. The corner grocery store gave us provisions on credit and this is 1997. Not just that, 5 years later we shifted to Gurgaon and Harish bhaiya would bring Lal Qila Basmati rice and drop it off near Bristol chowk for the next couple of years. His sister lived in Gurgaon but still why would you carry rice across the city for a customer who was never coming back to live near your store ? That’s the Indian style of customer service.
Top Tip Bhelpuri – Customer Service, Indian Style
I was reminded of all these incidents when we were on our long trip in Nov 2022. There is a particular brand of Bhelpuri that we absolutely love called Top Tip. It’s a Nagpur based company called Tamhankar’s that manufactures this instant Bhel. We got hooked onto this courtesy our first stop at a fuel pump grocery store in Nagpur and the store owner Nirmal Ji insisted that we try this instant Bhel.
You just need to sprinkle water or add tomatoes, onions, cucumbers etc finely diced to the bhel and mix it all up. The chutneys (sauces) are all pre-mixed. It tastes yummy ! While travelling it’s a fantastic snack as it has murmura and peanuts. Even if you don’t have veggies, just sprinkle some water and your snack is ready.
We always buy several packets of Top Tip Instant Bhel when we cross Nagpur on our road trip. This time in Feb, we couldn’t find a Purti super market nearby. We were wondering how to get our favourite Bhelpuri. I tried to see if Swiggy’s instamart was available in Nagpur, but it was not. An afternoon brainwave hit me and I just called the Purti supermarket that we had been to earlier in Nov.
They gave me the number of their branch that was close to Le Meridien where we were staying. I called the store and initially the lady who answered the phone was unsure if she can send the packets of Bhelpuri across. She said it was about 7 Kms away, a little far. She asked for some time and called back to say she will send them over.
Within half hour, two youngsters came on a scooter with several packets of Top Tip Bhel. They also shared a QR code for me to pay them using GPay. I told you, this is customer service, Indian style !!! This is an unknown super market in a city that we transit probably twice a year and still they would make this effort for a customer.
Was super thrilled that we could stock up on our favourite Bhel, all thanks to our desi style of customer service.
I am usually very critical of customer service in India because many times they miss on basics…. this blog is to recognise that amidst all the not-so-good things about customer service in India, there are pockets of brilliance that just go above and beyond. It’s also a reminder to me that I don’t have to be so critical 😔.