Hey everyone: My friends over at ZingTrain shared this reminder on how to build better service in your organization. I hope you find it helpful.
By Maggie Bayless, ZingTrain
Breaking down key procedures into simple-to-follow steps gives your staff a fail-proof recipe for success.
What is a business recipe?
At Zingerman's, we like recipes. Documenting and following recipes for the foods that we serve make it more likely that the corned beef sandwich you have today will taste just as good as the one you have next week, that the chicken broth will have the right amount of salt, and that the pecan raisin bread has the right amount of pecans and raisins.
But we don't just have recipes for the foods we prepare; we also have recipes for key processes and procedures – for elements of the customer (or the employee) experience that we want to be consistent each time. Our best-known business recipes include Zingerman's 3 Steps to Great Service and Zingerman's 5 Steps to Handling Customer Complaints, but we also have recipes for order accuracy, effective organizational change and conflict resolution – to name just a few.
Zingerman's 3 Steps to Great Service
1. Figure out what the customer wants.
2. Get if for them: accurately, politely, enthusiastically.
3. Go the extra mile.
A successful business recipe is a process or procedure that you have thought through, broken down into simple-to-follow steps, documented, taught and practiced consistently – and that, when followed, guarantees (or at least greatly increases the likelihood of) a positive outcome.
Zingerman's 3 Steps to Great Service is simple enough that new staffers can learn it on their first day. But its beauty as a recipe is that it's still exactly the right process for the most skilled service providers in our organization, who exhibit tremendous creativity and finesse in performing each step – but who follow those same steps all the same.
Origins of Business Recipes
Often, business recipes are developed because one person in an organization is consistently better at accomplishing a task that most other people, and when that person's process for performing the task is analyzed, a recipe is born. Other times, a group gets together to compare best practices and document those as a recipe.
In most businesses, the recipes aren't documented from the beginning, but rather developed over time. When Zingerman's Delicatessen opened in 1982, we weren't teaching a customer service class; Ari and Paul were waiting on customers and modeling their vision of great service. About eight years in, however, with around 50 staff members, it became clear that we needed to do more formal training if we wanted to maintain the level of service we'd become known for. In creating Zingerman's 3 Steps to Great Service, we searched for the common elements in the best customer service interactions and wrote them down. Then, over the years, we've tweaked them a little as we found pieces that needed to be clarified.
Business recipes can also be imported from other businesses, although we've found that this is most effective if the recipes are adapted to reflect the culture of the new organization, rather than just adopted "as is." For example, when ZingTrain works with clients on developing a vision of great service for their organization, we offer Zingerman's 3 Steps to Great Service as a model but encourage them to create their own steps, using language consistent with their organization's look and feel.
When we worked with the staff of Laurey's Catering in Asheville, N.C., here's how they adapted Zingerman's customer service recipe to fit their business:
Laurey's 4 Steps to Customer Service
1. Welcome and find out what the customer wants. Spend the necessary time with them.
2. Accurate orders delivered quickly and politely with genuine enthusiasm.
3. When you think you've done enough, do more.
4. Thank the customer.
The language reflects the culture of Laurey's and feels comfortable to the people who work there. When they put these steps in writing nine or so years ago, the culture of great service at Laurey's wasn't new, and their recipe simply documented what they'd been doing for a long time. But having a recipe written down has made it much easier to teach incoming staff what's expected – and to measure whether individuals are following all of the steps.
Documenting Business Recipes
We have two main motivations for documenting business recipes:
1. We're really good at something, or have a special way of doing it, and we want to formalize that process.
2. We're not so good at a process or procedure that we know is essential to long-term success, so we want to find a better way to do it.
In either case, once we've defined the process, we need to teach it to others. The whole point of business recipes is to make teaching and learning easier. If the idea of creating business recipes intrigues you, but you're not sure where to start, I'd spend some time thinking about what the most important things are that your staff needs to be able to do, and what you find yourself repeatedly telling them/teaching them again and again. Answering those questions will provide some insight into where to start and – for many organizations – will bring the idea of a recipe for delivering customer service to the fore. Feel free to use Zingerman's 3 Steps to Great Service as a launchpad and adapt it as needed to fit your organization's service standards and culture. For a more in-depth explanation of what we've done at Zingerman's, check
out "Zingerman's Guide to Good Leading, Part 1: A Lapsed Anarchist's Approach to Building a Great Business" by Ari Weinzweig. And if you create recipes of your own, please let us know what you come up with and how they're working!
More resources for Zingerman's Customer Service training :
Zingerman's Guide to Giving Great Service by Ari Weinzweig
Zingerman's 5 Steps to Effectively Handling a Complaint Training DVD
This article also appeared in Gourmet Retailer magazine in April/May 2013