Episode 102 – Featuring Ari Weinzweig (Zingermans)

Ari Weinzweig

Customer Service With a “Zing”: Maximizing the Effectiveness of One of the Most Important Elements of Your Business

Pop quiz:

1.  What was the worst customer service you have ever received, be it retail, restaurant, online, or wherever?

2.  What did that company do to make it right?     .

3.  What could that company have done to avoid the poor service in the first place?

Unfortunately, these are questions any of us can answer, and for many of us, we have to choose between multiple “horror stories”.

Fact is, customer service is one of the most critical elements of ANY company, and one that, sadly, is often taken for granted.   Many companies presume good customer service to be something that just….happens, But all it can take is an ordered product or service to be processed incorrectly, or the customer catching your representative on a bad day, and it may take a LONG time to get that customer back through your doors, if ever!

(And in an age where social media rules the day, that customer can make his or her feelings known on Facebook, Twitter, or Yelp, just to name a few outlets, turning a bad situation exponentially worse,  Your company can only hope for a best-case scenario of the customer keeping his or her mouth SHUT!)

But while some of the “don’ts” of customer service may be painfully obvious, the question remains: how do you ensure that good customer service is a must for your company from the top-down?  An entrepreneur may know the value of every individual customer for your business, but how does that entrepreneur convey that importance to the company’s employees effectively, so that’s it’s second nature at all times?

When it comes to establishing top shelf customer service in a business, few, if any, entrepreneurs in America, have done it as well as Ari Weinzweig.

Not even the most optimistic of entrepreneurs could have envisioned the business success that Ari would go on to enjoy since starting his business, Zingerman’s Deli, in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1982.    Starting with a humble sandwich shop and a concise, simple menu, Ari grew that business into a thriving Ann Arbor institution that serves well over 500,000 customers a year.   While most entrepreneurs would consider such an enterprise to be an all-encompassing success, Ari decided to take his venture to the next level.   A bakery followed in 1992, followed soon after by a mail-order catalog, hailed by many as one of the premier food-based mail order catalogs in the U.S. Then came the catering business, the training business, the creamery, the American-style restaurant, and the coffee company.

Under Ari’s watchful eye, each of these businesses is its own thriving enterprise, and collectively, they represent Ari’s forward-thinking vision of establishing a true business community.  Zingerman’s has been hailed by no less than Inc. Magazine as “The Coolest Small Company in America”.

But none of that success or acclaim would have been possible without Ari’s hyper-focus on customer service.  Having multiple businesses with disparate customer streams can pose quite the challenge for ANY entrepreneur.  But thanks to Ari’s intensive customer service training program, the aforementioned “ZingTrain”, each of his employees are instilled with the same eye for service as his own.  It is that singularity of vision that has positioned Ari as one of the premier customer service authorities in the U.S., and one who practices what he preaches, to boot!

On this edition of The Raja Show, Ari checks into the show to talk with Raja about his story, as well as what HE does to instill the vision of top flight customer service in each of his people.   And he’ll offer tips from the consumer standpoint  on how you can be a better customer, to hold up your end of the customer service equation.  He’ll also give his take on some of Raja’s recent customer service horror stories, and how these scenarios can easily and effectively be avoided going forward.