Giordano fashions staff development plan

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 December, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 December, 1997, 12:00am

Staff training is a crucial element in ensuring that Giordano International meets the company's corporate service promise to always provide exceptional customer service and surpass customer expectations.

Recruiting staff because they enjoy meeting people and want to work in the service sector is only the beginning for Giordano's innovative employee training programme. It sets out to build the individual's self-esteem and to help new recruits to absorb the company's service culture.

To add to a long list of other awards for customer service, Giordano was chosen as the winner of the 1997 Hong Kong Awards for Services: Customer Service, one of the five major awards presented.

The award was organised by the Hong Kong Retail Management Association and presented for the first time this year.

Although Giordano is widely recognised as the company that played a leading role in raising the standards of customer service in Hong Kong, since the introduction of its innovative open-fronted shops in the late 1980s, a challenge has been firmly set in place to maintain a competitive edge over other companies which have followed its example.

Christine Wong, Giordano's human resources director, said the company viewed taking part in the Awards for Services as an important yardstick that could be used to measure the company's standing against other retailers involved in the same industry.

'The awards are a good way of recognising the achievements of retail staff and the total support of management to excellent customer service, which boosts job satisfaction,' Ms Wong said.

In some ways, Giordano has become a victim of its own success by establishing exacting service standards that customers have grown to expect.

'Once you have put up your image as a leader in customer service, the important issue is to maintain the quality of service and to ensure that a customer's expectations is met each and every time a person visits a Giordano store,' Ms Wong said.

Giordano's policy of offering higher salaries than comparative stores that was started in 1992 had attracted a good standard of people and proved to be a short-term success before it was discovered that some people were more interested in the salary than providing a service that met customers' needs.

Ms Wong said Giordano had since developed a long- term strategy for achieving outstanding customer service. This put greater emphasis on the initial recruitment of staff, the building of staff responsibility and attitude, and identifying each frontline staff member's goals and expectations through a Personal Development Programme.

'We have found that, on joining the company, around 90 per cent of people are motivated by money, have fairly low self-esteem and value their worth through the individual's earning power,' Ms Wong said.

After an initial orientation period, each new member of staff is paired with a more experienced colleague to be coached about the company's service culture and to welcome them to the Giordano team through social activities.

She said that after six months staff were invited to take part in the Personal Development Programme, which had been established to help individuals to prioritise their lives, achieve personal goals and build self- esteem.

Ms Wong said that after taking part in the programme, which involved being given tokens that allowed each person to take part in a auction to bid for things that mattered most to them, the level of people who rated money as the most important thing in their lives dropped to five per cent and family, health and friendship became their main priorities.