Being Where It Happens

Scott Goldshine

Last weekend, The New York Times featured Scott Goldshine whose tenure at the famous New York deli, Zabar’s, spans 46 years where he started as a garbage man and worked his way up to general manager. He gets in by 5:30 a.m. (the store opens at 9) to check in with every counter, every manager, every display, every delivery, every piece of equipment – is the slicing machine working and was the bread delivered? – to ensure all is in order. This, in my mind, personifies the meticulous attention given to the customer journey. Anything that could go wrong has already gone wrong and been fixed. When the doors open and customers flood in, they know everything has been taken care of because Scott is there.

During off hours, he keeps his phone on his night table (and NOT on mute!) The message here, for me, is that he’s even working for us while he’s sleeping – 24/7. When in the store, Scott prefers to be on the sales floor where the customers are – to hear what customers are saying, watch what customers are experiencing, see what customers are doing. This ensures their time at Zabar’s will be seamless – fun, tasty, and a feast for the eyes and the senses.

Remember the line from “Hamilton” about being in the room where it happens?

There’s a lesson here, as I often say. His focus on the customer journey translates to setting the stage for how any customer or client experiences working with you. So pay attention to every detail and leave no stone unturned.

Lawyers, what does “being in the room where it happens” mean for you?

  • How is the phone answered when your clients call?
  • Are they treated well when they enter your office?
  • Is there anything they need to feel comfortable, or “at home”?
  • Does the Wi-Fi in the conference room work (or any other necessary tech)?
  • Did you, their lawyer, come into the room on time and greet them warmly?
  • Have you turned off your phone to ensure there are no distractions?
  • After the meeting, are you following up in a timely manner, thereby providing peace of mind?

Every step in the customer journey has to be flawless. If one touchpoint is off, it is said that the whole journey is off. Incredible attention to detail. Making sure everything is working as is expected. Ensuring the highest level of friendliness and hospitality. Making certain that each department stands out on its own.

Scott’s story personifies what Zabar’s represents. The customer journey through this incredible food emporium, aka iconic deli, is reliable, consistent and inspired. It builds trust. What can you take from this time-tested business model and assimilate into yours?


(Please click here to read the referenced article at nytimes.com)