The Front Line: Hailing the best in travel retail customer service

INTERNATIONAL. We present the latest highlights from The Front Line, our regular e-Zine column sponsored by Copper Dog Scotch whisky, that champions customer service excellence in travel retail.

The column explores how the airport retail experience is brought to life by individuals representing the leading industry companies.

Employee: Ronald Foster

Role: Customer Service Ambassador at Fresh to Order, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport

Employer: Concessions International

Time in job: 22 years

Employer’s comments: Ronald was named Georgia Restaurant Employee of the Year for 2017 by the Georgia Restaurant Association in November. The annual Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards honour people who have made outstanding contributions to the US state’s restaurant industry.

A 30-year veteran of the restaurant business, Foster’s nomination for the award cited his ability to make people smile even when they are hurrying to catch the next plane.

Concessions International CEO Donata Russell Ross commented: “We could not be more proud of Ronald winning this state-wide honour. He loves his job and it shows, and best of all, his attitude is infectious with guests and fellow employees alike.”

Ronald’s comments: “It is most rewarding to see people’s attitude change just by being nice to them.”

Employee: Andrea di Pietrantonio

Role: Sales Assistant, Heinemann Duty Free at Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport

Employer: Gebr Heinemann

Time in job: Five years

Employer’s comments: Andrea enjoys a very good reputation in our team for being a helpful, responsible and attentive person. He is passionate about regional products and since his family owns a winery, he is an expert in advising customers about the ideal bottle of wine.

When reorganising the various departments in our shops a few months ago, Andrea proudly took over the responsibility for our department devoted to regional products. Due to his high level of acceptance within the team and his extraordinary sense of responsibility, our sales team leaders have even occasionally assigned organisational tasks to him such as managing the delivery in our shops.

Andrea’s comments: “My approach in serving customers is first and foremost to have a very open and friendly attitude, combined with a desire to ask the right questions in order to understand the needs of our customers. My aim is to enhance sales by creating interest among travellers, and hence push cross selling.”

Employee: Haide Azarcon

Role: Swarovski dedicated staff

Employer: Dubai Duty Free

Time in job: Ten years

Employer’s comments: Haide Azarcon joined Dubai Duty Free on 5 March 2008. She is from the Philippines. She is soft-spoken by nature and has a positive attitude at all times.

Haide is self-motivated and willing to go beyond the call of duty when required. She’s always available to help and assist every customer and provides world-class customer service at all times.

She is friendly and adapts to customers and ensures that they are having a pleasant shopping experience. She always follows the standards, policies and procedures of the company and respects its values.

Haide does not leave her area until she has finished her work, and keeps it clean and well merchandised at all times. She was selected as the Brand Ambassador of Swarovski in 2012 and received the Airport Customer Excellence award in February 2017.

Haide’s comments: ““I believe that every customer deserves to be treated with respect. It is very important to be friendly and maintain a helpful attitude to develop customer rapport. Sincerely thanking them for giving us business is one way of creating customer loyalty and retention.

“Working at Dubai Duty Free is an accomplishment in my life. I am treated with the utmost respect and care by my superiors and management and I am inspired to be part of the company.”

Employee: Serhii Samoilenko

Role: Sales assistant

Employer: Dubai Duty Free

Time in job: Five years

Employer’s comments: Serhii is a very passionate and career-oriented staff member, who joined Dubai Duty Free in October 2012. His beliefs in professionalism, hard work and maintaining a good team rapport are some of the factors that make him an ideal employee.

Serhii was initially selected as a beauty advisor of a perfume brand, but after a year he decided to return to a role as a general sales assistant. He was assigned to watches and sunglasses, where technical skills were required. He strived to improve his selling abilities through training and online courses related to his area of expertise. Because of his diverse knowledge, he was chosen to become a category coach in sunglasses. Despite all the recognition given to him, he still remains humble and is always willing to share his knowledge with colleagues.

His flexibility, humility and sincerity as a staff member mean he provides good service. He was named ‘Employee of the Month’ for February 2017 and received four ‘Gotcha Star’ recognitions in December 2017.

Serhii’s comments: “I always keep in my heart and mind the company’s world-class standards of customer service, and follow them wholeheartedly. I treat duty free as my home and my colleagues as my brothers and sisters. The company has been my bread and butter and I am forever grateful that I am part of it.”

Employee: Heriberto Chávez Acosta

Role: Shift Supervisor, Mexico City

Employer: Dufry

Time in job: 22 years

Employer’s comments: Heriberto is a Dufry Certified Trainer who is innovative and a real motivator. He delivers with enthusiasm and passion. Heriberto is a talented person with a great disposition. He is an optimist and an excellent collaborator who is focused on results and is always willing to give 100%.

His current life situation is complicated, in that he is studying at university as well as having an additional night job. Heriberto though has a promising future which we expect will be full of personal and professional successes as a result of his effort and perseverance.

Heriberto’s comments: “For me, working at Dufry is incredible because it is enjoyable and there are so many opportunities to grow professionally. Thanks to the continuous training I have been able to develop my skills and fulfil my potential. “Without a doubt, working at Dufry is a great experience. For that reason I am always looking to improve the work environment and increase sales at the store.”

Employee: Annie Liza Carbolico

Role: Sales assistant

Employer: Dubai Duty Free

Time in job: Ten years

Employer’s comments: Annie started her career at Dubai Duty Free in March 2008. It has been ten fruitful years since she left her home country, the Philippines, to be more independent and help her family financially.

She first worked in a customer service role for Dubai Airports that improved her communication skills and service levels. The role helped her become better at dealing with different types of customers from different countries, cultures and walks of life.

She was next assigned to different areas, such as liquor & tobacco, Gifts from Dubai, electronics, Food Plus, but excelled the most in the perfumes & cosmetics area.

She has charisma and offers a personal touch in serving and selling to customers. Her smile is so genuine and comes from the heart. As proof, Annie was awarded the ‘Gotcha Superstar’ award for her terminal for the year 2017. She has received a large number of ‘Gotcha’ stars for her exemplary and excellent customer service.

Annie’s comments: “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.

“I believe that hard work and dedication for my craft enable me to succeed. My drive and passion to serve and help customers are my main priorities. With enough hard work, you can achieve.”

Employee: Biniam Bogale

Role: Sales assistant

Employer: Dubai Duty Free

Time in job: Seven years

Employer’s comments: Biniam is from Ethiopia, and started his career in our arrivals shop. He was then moved to departures after a year. During his tenure in arrivals, he learnt a lot about cigars, cigarettes, liquor and several other products.

His desire to learn more about cigarettes and cigars gave him the challenge of improving his selling skills and enhancing his career. He is currently a dedicated staff member for La Casa Del Habanos and has been in this position for the last five years.

Biniam is now seen as an expert in his field, and he conducts on-the-job coaching for new members of staff. He has shown a willingness to assist any member of the team that needs his help. He has received numerous commendation letters from customers over the years for being accommodating, knowledgeable and dedicated to his job. Biniam was recognised as Dubai Duty Free’s ‘Employee of the Month’ twice for the months of November 2012 and May 2017

Biniam’s comments: “Working with Dubai Duty Free has been a pleasure and I have enjoyed every moment working here. This is a company that cares, hence I believe in giving my very best to it. Every customer is important and deserves to be treated as a king.”

Employee: Analiza Abalayan

Role: Sales assistant

Employer: Dubai Duty Free

Time in job: 15 years

Employer’s comments: Ana has so far given over 15 years of service, having joined Dubai Duty Free on 7 November 2002. She is a hardworking and career-oriented member of staff, and consistently maintains an outstanding performance level at work.

Ana is currently assigned to the Terminal 2 perfumes & cosmetics shop. She understands that professionalism and sincere customer service, as well as having an exceptional knowledge of merchandise, are vital in competently performing the role of sales assistant. Ana has proven time and again her efficiency in offering products and her adept approach and genuine persona in attending to customers. She has received numerous commendation letters from customers for providing exceptional service.

Ana is unceasing in her drive to develop her work performance and improve her knowledge of various products. She strives to be proficient in all her dealings and aims to guarantee customer satisfaction. Her capabilities and the admirable work ethic she possesses were recognised when she was nominated by her colleagues as a model employee and was awarded the ‘Employee of the Month’ award in April 2016.

Analiza’s comments: “It is my priority to cater to every customer’s needs with attentiveness and outstanding service. I believe that being honest, and having strong moral principles and a gracious character, allows me to provide the best customer service experience possible. I endeavour to exemplify the company’s values by delivering world class service to all our customers.”

Copper Dog is delighted to recognise the exceptional employees who are ultimately responsible for bringing all facets of the airport retail experience to life.

Each featured Frontliner will receive a personalised Copper Dog bottle and dipper from the brand’s home in Speyside.

Excitingly, Copper Dog will host a grand prize draw in late 2018 featuring the previous 12 month’s nominated staff. One lucky Frontliner will win a VIP, all-expenses paid trip to Scotland, staying at the brand’s superb Craigellachie Hotel in Speyside, Scotland.

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