Treating customers like friends is an important work motto, according to the nine winners at supervisory level. Coming from different retail sectors, all of these awarded supervisors underwent a challenging judging process. But they simply showed their sincerity in all the assessments, like the friendly way they are with customers in real life. Shirley Leung Ting-yan, a care supervisor at mobile phone company Nokia, said she upheld the belief of 'be myself' as a supervisor. 'I believe that service comes from my heart and I need to put myself into others' shoes, which means I have to be considerate and treat people sincerely,' Ms Leung said. 'Both customers and my subordinates can feel that.' Ms Leung recalled that her service attitude was well recognised by a couple when they visited her store for the second time. 'The couple told me they were happy with my service because I was diligent in teaching them how to use their phones,' she said. Poon Wai-fan, a supervisor at fashion chain store Giordano, shared what she did in her shop with the judges. 'The interview for this award was like my service-sharing meeting in my company,' she said. Ms Poon added that excellent service meant treating customers as friends and extending service beyond sales. 'My colleague and I once served a Japanese customer as well as finding the place to meet her friends, and she was so happy,' she said. The winners shared the view that by keeping close relations with the customers they could set a good example to staff. Homer Ho Wai-kit, from Watson's Wine Cellar, believes his friendship with customers is built in a natural way. 'I always have good conversations with the customers who work in the surrounding office buildings,' Mr Ho said. 'As time goes by, they become my good friends.' Salina Wong Ngar-yun, a shop supervisor at accessories brand Furla, once had a memorable experience. 'I came across a customer who was worried about finding a birthday gift for his wife, then I helped him out,' she said. Some time later, the customer returned to her shop and thanked her for her good recommendation. Ms Wong now calls the customer weeks before his wife's birthday to remind him to buy a nice present at her shop. Friendship with customers is never built in one day. All the winners agreed that devoting more care to the opinions of customers was the first step to good relations. Sharon Chan Sze-wai, from The Hong Kong Jockey Club, once met a customer who disliked her betting account number as she thought it would bring her bad luck. 'I listened to her opinions and arranged for her account to be cancelled as we cannot change or select the number, which is computer-generated, but at the same time I explained to her patiently how this electronic means of betting could save her time,' she said. Finally, that customer was happy to accept the account number. Ming Lau Hoi-ming, a supervisor at department store Lane Crawford, said a smiling face was the best tool to break the ice between retail practitioners and customers. Like other winning supervisors, Ms Lau plays a key role in offering coaching to staff. As a training specialist, Ms Lau delivers service skills to the staff. Her training covers the company's practice on grooming and the skills in make-up and skin care. Ms Lau said that she was pleased to learn a lot from being a trainer. 'When I'm teaching, I'm learning to teach what I know,' she said. Janis Kwok Hoi-yee, an assistant shop supervisor at cosmetic store Sasa, emphasised the way to impress customers. 'I have to lead my team to work better on visual merchandising to enhance the attractiveness of the shop display and supervise my subordinates to perform up to standard and to serve by heart,' she said. 'We have to give customers a good reason for visiting our shop.' Ms Kwok believes that by giving her team support and communicating with them regularly, they will give better service to customers. These supervisory winners believe the award helps to recognise their performance over a long period. More effort will follow to keep up the service quality and lead the teams to achieve higher goals. Pansy Lo Pan-pan, a restaurant manager at food chain Pizza Hut, hopes that she can sharpen her language skills. 'Hong Kong is an international city and I hope I can communicate with foreign visitors using their languages,' Ms Lo said. 'This is the first step to show them our intention to provide world-class services.' Besides her knowledge of customer service, management skills and food and work safety, Ms Lo plans to learn some magic tricks so as to give customers something unexpected. Marcus Chan Pui-kwan, a store manager at convenience chain 7-Eleven, said the award gave her a stronger sense of commitment to both her team and her customers. 'Observation is the key to maintaining excellent customer service, especially in our industry,' she said. 'I hope to share more of my servicing experiences with my colleagues and in turn there will be services of higher quality to customers,' she said. Stationed in the airport store, Ms Chan meets people from different countries every day, so learning foreign languages like Japanese and Korean is her major plan. 'Speaking to customers in their language can give them a warm feeling,' she said.