SOPHISTICATED consumers are demanding better and more innovative forms of customer service and no frontline professionals are more sorely tested than those in supervisory roles. But if the performances of this year's supervisory level winners at the Hong Kong Retail Management Association Service & Courtesy Award are anything to go by, customer service supervisors are proving that the city's service standard is a force to be reckoned with. Giordano Ladies store manager Candy Cheung Pui-yuk, winner of the fashion and accessories category, understands the need for retailers to stand out. 'To differentiate from the norm, retailers should look for more innovative services to surprise customers and offer more than what they expect,' Ms Cheung said. Gone are the days when mediocre service sufficed. Kong Wing-man, assistant store manager at Haagen-Dazs in Sha Tin, was the favourite in the food shops category. 'Customers nowadays don't like robotic service. They like us to be sincere and have a passion in communicating with them,' Ms Kong said. With the rapid spread of information, retailers are aware that all it takes is just one bad retail experience to hurt their brand's image. Sunny Lam Yat-kwong, department sales supervisor at Fortress, who won the electronic and electrical appliances/telecommunications category, said: 'We must be honest and open as whatever we do people will know and share the information around. 'I always think that trustworthiness is the most important success criterion. No matter what the situation is, our customers will appreciate us as long as we keep them informed, are open and communicate with them.' TSL Jewellery sales supervisor Law Kam-fai, who won the specialty stores category, said: 'We aren't only providing a high-quality service to the customer, we need to build trust towards the customer and treat them as friends.' Mannings store manager Leung Yu-hang, winner of the supermarkets/convenience stores category, prefers to build trust in his own relaxed and easy-going style. 'Customers now expect service to be more intimate and genuine. They will judge your brand based on the feeling you give them,' he said. This type of personalised service has been perfected by the winner of the fashion & accessories - high fashion category, Carmen Pun Ka-man, assistant supervisor at Dunhill in Ocean Terminal. She said the best part of her work was interacting with people. 'We are not just necessarily selling to them. It is also about building relationships,' Ms Pun said. The winner of the beauty products/cosmetics group, Tammy Tam Sze-lam, said: 'Customers' expectations are always changing. This is especially true for travellers at the airport. Hence, our company always takes a customer-led approach to track and understand customers' needs and preferences via regular consumer market research.' She has been assistant store manager at the Temptation Duty Free store of Nuance-Watson for more than a year. Jarvis Law Lik-sze, LZ LifeZtore senior customer service representative, won the furniture and home accessories category. He said: 'It is just the beginning of the service excellence trip, and I am the ambassador of the trip.' More important than winning is the collaborative effort needed for good customer service. Jodie Lam Ching-yee, department manager at Harvey Nichols, won in the department stores category. She said: 'Winning this is a reminder that one should focus not just on the present but as a company. We need to all work together towards constantly improving and anticipating customers' needs.' Joe Leung Ying-wai, from Pizza Hut Hong Kong, won in the fast food/restaurants category and was also a winner of the best team performance award.