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Would you buy a travel exclusive set from this very keen saleswoman? I know I would.
Note the body language; the receptive, listening and attentive posture. Note the way she has the traveller’s eyes directed to the value message. This is a sale you just know is going to be made.
Of course, this is no ordinary salesperson (not that the retailer in question employs any ordinary staff); it is none other than Nuance-Watson (HK) Regional Managing Director for North Asia Alessandra Piovesana.
In our picture she is, as ever, leading by example, as part of the retailer’s positive action programme towards the economic crisis called ‘We Support’.
It’s tremendous stuff – the sort of story we should hear more about rather than the unrelenting diet of despair that emanates from the financial pages every morning.
We Support is a volunteer staff programme and there has been no shortage of uptake. Some 100 Nuance-Watson management and back-office staff dedicated a collective 800 hours to working in the anchor stores at Hong Kong International Airport, providing customer service, greeting, selling and merchandising. Never have customers been better looked after – never have they needed to be.
We particularly liked the fact that the campaign applied throughout the company – to back-office staff as well as front-line salespeople. For example, each office staff member undertook training on ‘6-Step Best-Selling Practices’ and ‘Customer Service Standard’ to ensure that they could service customers just as adeptly as the frontline team.
As the company said, such imbued disciplines and principles earn their payback in the way back-office staff interact with internal customers and external business partners.
Alessandra and her team are, of course, no strangers to crisis. During the darkest days of SARS, for example, you could have rolled a dozen bowling balls through the stores and corridors of Hong Kong International Airport and not risked hitting a soul.
But Nuance-Watson (HK) kept the faith, maintained its commitment to those who were still travelling, and (somehow) kept staff spirits high. They were supported in that approach by the outstanding commercial management team at Airport Authority Hong Kong, led by Eva Tsang, whom I often think do not get the industry kudos they deserve for the spirit of partnership they embrace.
Alessandra has drawn on the experience of SARS, and of the many external crises that have shaped our industry over the past decade. ‘Can do, no fear’ is one of the key messages emanating from the ‘We Support’ campaign.
The whole industry should embrace that philosophy. As we have said before, if you could just bottle her spirit – as an Eau de Piovesana (EdP) – the travel retail channel would be a better place. And certainly, judging by the picture above, the average sale per passenger would go through the roof.