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26/10/2006 - par Mark Tungate

What is the most important media of all ? The question was answered at the World Luxury Congress, held at the George V last week. It was amusing to hear London tailors and Italian shoe designers discussing the digital revolution. But the luxury industry gets one thing right, as British jewellery designer Theo Fennell observed. « It always amazes me that some brands spend a fortune on advertising when the service in their stores is appalling. If you can't get your service right, the rest is useless. »

That's right - the people who work for brands are their most important media. The luxury industry prides itself on providing spectacularly good service. Other industries are not as diligent. I was reminded of my current struggle with Habitat, where in September I ordered furniture worth more than 1 000 euros. A month later, all I have for my pain is a large phone bill and half a bookshelf (the other half having been delivered to a woman I don't know). And nowhere amidst all this incompetence have I heard mention of any compensation - or even an apology. If I'd had the brand manager of Habitat in front of me last week, I would have strangled him.

Good service is no longer a luxury. Another speaker at the conference, US journalist Carol Brodie, said : « Thanks to the internet, customers have a huge choice of brands. If you can't provide good service, they will abandon you. » And that is true for every industry, in every sector.

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