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20/04/2006 - par Mark Tungate

Twelve », said the guy on the door of the Marc Jacobs store in Greenwich Village, New York. I experienced a moment of jet-lagged confusion. Twelve what ? The right entrance was at number twelve ? The guy's mental age was twelve ? « Twelve, » he snapped again, before closing the door in my face. Then I realised : the store didn't open until midday. Clearly, rich people don't get out of bed before then. I looked at my watch - it was ten to twelve. But was I going to hang around outside for ten minutes, now a member of the store's staff had been rude to me ? Not fucking likely. I would spend my money among people who knew how to form entire sentences.

In a world of integrated branding, stores need to realise that their staff are media. The best marketing in the world comes down to two people talking. You can spend a fortune on advertising, build a fantastic website and hire a fabulous interior designer, but if your employees are unhelp­ful, you will lose customers.

This happens in all fields of life. I have the same responsibility : if I am the only person you've ever met from Stratégies, in your mind, I am Stratégies ! Here in France, I'm amazed at how rude or simply stupid many receptionists (standardistes) are. And yet they are a major interface between the brand and the public. Companies should perhaps spend less on advertising, and more on staff training. And, by the way, it's always a bad idea to be rude to customers who also happen to be journalists.

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