Jewish Atlanta Learns About Great Customer Service from a Deli
What can Jewish Atlanta learn from a deli? It turns out a whole lot!
Last week, 60 professionals representing 34 programs and organizations in our Atlanta Jewish ecosystem spent an intensive day learning the art of creating a culture of radically welcoming customer service. Our trainers were Timo Anderson and Arianna Tellez from Zingermans, a deli in Ann Arbor, MI famous for mile-high pastrami sandwiches and amazing baked goods. But even more famous for a level of service that makes customers feel like royalty.
Zingermans believes that great customer service can be learned and that it involves everyone from the top to the bottom of the org chart. Cultivating a service mindset requires deep listening and an agreed upon set of founding principles that drive the business. With a strong shared vision, strategies for caring, excellence, and engagement lead naturally to “scripts” and protocols that address common problems.
The language we use with customers reflects our values, too. Instead of saying,” We’re out of that,” a Zingermans server might say, “I’m sorry, we’re temporarily out of that. What we do have is ___. If you can wait a moment, I’ll call and see if we have some. Instead of saying “No problem,” Zingermans servers say, “You’re welcome!” or, “Happy to help!”
Zingermans’ mantra is “going the extra mile.” And yet it’s not going the extra mile if a customer asks for it — that’s just great service! What are those things that are beyond? Walking someone where they need to go, giving them a recipe for something that they commented on that they liked – or in the case of our organizations, giving useful information without being asked!
Complaints, we learned, generally come from your best customers and create big opportunities for reflection and changing course.
Another big insight: we are all “customers.” The behavior we model internally to our co-workers is just as important as what we show our outward facing customers.
At both the ITP and OTP training sessions, participants sat in small groups of organizations that are located near to each other. The idea was to see what customer service initiatives we might work on together. Professionals from Interfaith Family, The Temple, and Federation looked at how to improve orientation and onboarding of newcomers and agreed to collaborate on phone scripts and inclusivity training. They set a timetable for follow-up.
Professionals from Camp Coleman, In the City Camp and Ramah Darom talked about sharing scholarship timelines and streamlining the application process for summer staff.
General consensus: “This was the best customer training I’ve ever experienced.” Said another participant, “I learned that our jobs are so much more than our role – they are about creating positive Jewish experiences.”