Changing attitudes to meet changing needs

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 June, 2007, 12:00am


A rising demand for quality living among Hong Kong people is leading retailers to create a more family or lifestyle-oriented image for their brands. This market repositioning usually involves a product or service revamp and often incurs a need for staff training, not just to upgrade their skills but also to help them switch over to a new mindset or service attitude.

Apparel manufacturer and retailer Bossini Enterprises embarked on such a venture in March, with a '360 degree' brand revamp aimed at expanding its customer base with a more diversified product portfolio and a family friendly one-stop shopping concept.

The revamp is under pilot implementation at the company's new shop in Mong Kok where the 40-strong team has recently completed training to help its members adapt to the new retail environment and service culture.

Linda Tam Ling-fai, the company's director of sales and marketing, is steering the brand revamp, including its training initiatives. She said that as the staff members concerned were experienced and already equipped with basic sales skills, the fresh training focused on higher level professional enhancements to improve their product knowledge, people skills for handling a wider customer profile, understanding of family shoppers' behaviour and presentation skills. There was coaching to help them make the necessary transition, while the shop manager and supervisors also received leadership training.

'Everybody is challenged to think out of the box and act accordingly. The mindset change involved is bigger than the behavioural change,' said Ms Tam.

She said the management foresaw the project's possible impact on staff early at its planning stage, and made a special effort to communicate the revamp's details to all staff members before the pilot project was launched.

'It was very important to invoke the empathy of our staff and engage their support right from the beginning because they are the software forming this important project. They are our partners to achieving a successful brand relaunch, by translating our 'family fit' concept into sincere and caring services for our customers,' said Ms Tam.

She said continual staff development was a long-standing corporate tradition. 'We believe that only capable and committed staff bring business opportunities, and are glad that the rebranding has given us an opportunity to take this spirit further and generate benefits for our customers, our staff and the company.'

The pilot team was recruited through volunteers and selection interviews. Through a mix of internal and external training resources, the team was put through a programme of on-the-job training covering basic knowledge about quality assurance, children's psychology and maternity needs, as well as a workshop on paradigm shift by film director and personal presentation coach Alfred Cheung Kin-ting.

'We taught the team about our quality testing exercise which is especially important now we are also providing babies' clothing. We also taught them about children's psychology so they can conduct kids' workshops as part of the whole 'family fit' concept,' she said. Staff have been paying incognito visits to the shop to asses the training so far, said Ms Tam, adding that their observation had been satisfactory. Staff feedback, she said, had been positive, indicating stronger team spirit and morale, greater confidence and enhanced ability to see things from different perspectives.

She said the exercise not only helped elevate the business with a new brand image, but had also fostered a stronger bonding between the company and its staff.

'If our staff feel that they are a part of the company, they reflect this in serving our customers.'

The rundown

Staff enhancement training was provided as part of pilot project to relaunch the corporate brand with a family oriented image and shopping concept

Early communication was conducted with all staff on the rebranding project

On-the-job training programme covered basic knowledge about quality assurance, children's psychology and maternity needs to tie in with new product lines

Celebrity coach conducted workshop on paradigm shift