'The German retail sector is stuck in the Stone Age.' Reinhold Auer should know - his company Multisearch has been monitoring German customer service standards since 1996. Germany is still notorious for its terse and 'insensitive' service - disappointing, since customer service has become paramount.
But sales associates are often suspicious of training courses. There is a popular misconception that 'we want them to grin inanely or overwhelm customers with sales pitches', says one trainer. 'But it's all about communication.' Businesses are catching on, however. Cosmetics firm Douglas runs internal seminars on subjects ranging from sales rhetoric to body language. Auer is convinced that demand for staff training will rise, especially as companies expand internationally, so Multisearch has opened subsidiaries in Spain and Italy. 'It'll be easier there. The people are much more open, although they could do with some German thoroughness.'