We just got back from a two-day seminar at the Zingerman’s Training facility in Ann Arbor,
Michigan. Yep -that Zingerman’s – the folks who send you the wild catalogs every holiday season, and with whose box of bacon and fish sauce and cheese curds and who knows what else, you made your Christmas lunch out of courtesy of Aunt Gertrude.
Turns out, they also do training. Who knew? And not only do they offer training in, they are world-renowned experts at it. They even have a special facility one goes to for the training called @ZingTrain
Everything they do has some form of Zing attached to it. And since they are far and away the biggest deal in Ann Arbor – ok, maybe except for the University of Michigan – you’d be forgiven for calling Ann Arbor Zing Arbor or Ann Zinger or something like that.
Anyway, enough of amusing myself and on to the real reason for writing this post: these people got the goods. They know what they are doing. The seminar we went to was called The Art of Giving Great Customer Service
Now, I’ve been in customer service related fields since just after the last ice age, but everybody needs a refresher now and then. And I will admit, I may have been a bit jaded heading into it. It didn’t take long, however, for me to realize that what Zingerman’s had managed to create a seminar worthy of newbies to the field as well as grizzled veterans like myself.
How? By not so much teaching how to give great customer service – smile, don’t argue with the customer, etc.,– but by showing you why you want to give great customer service.
The obvious answer is because it rolls to the bottom line: If I give you great service you are far more likely to purchase, purchase more, and purchase more often. That’s the ‘why’ we’ve always been told.
And this did figure into it. But that tired old, albeit important, reason, was just the tip of the iceberg. The main point they were trying to get across is that we give great customer service because it just feels good! It just feels good to be nice to people. To treat them as people, not transactions or customer. And the reason we in the customer-service world should (and do) do it is because it’s energizing!
Doing nice things for people, like offering them a sample of something, or slipping a little something into their bag, or opening the door for the mom with the stroller, makes them happy, which makes you happy. It’s its own reward. And the greatest thing is that it’s a double whammy – you get to feel good, and you get better sales.
Maybe it’s even a triple whammy, because, since great customer service is so rare, they are far more likely to tell others about their experience, which – well, you get the idea – it all cascades downhill into our karmic pocketbooks.
So, while Ann Arbor wasn’t necessarily on my short list of places to visit given my limited time and travel budget, and while sitting through 18 hours of learning “The Zingerman’s Way” was taxing to my back, I owe the good folks at Zingerman’s a huge debt of gratitude.
Since I will occupy a space in the customer service market niche for the rest of my working life, it was invaluable to get that shot in the arm to remind me why we do it. We do it because service to others is an honorable profession. It’s a profession that helps make the world a better place for all of us to live in. It’s both humbling and rewarding at the same time.
And since my space within that customer service sphere is cheesemongering in Denver, which is, at its heart, another variation on the customer service theme, it was wonderful to be reminded that I can provide you, my guests, with so much more than just cheese.
I can provide you with a smile, and hopefully a spring in your step as you leave my shop with the latest and greatest morsel of cheese tucked in your bag. And we can both look forward to the time we meet again.
Thank you for that, Zingermans.