In the Land of Smiles

Anyone thinking of China is in for a surprise, because we’re in Italy. More precisely: we’re in the METRO Castellanza wholesale store in the metropolitan area of Milan. In 2017, an employee development programme was launched here and in 5 other stores that raises the role of the cashier to a completely new level and makes them central figures in commercial operations.

A programm that raises the role of the cashier to a completely new level and makes them central figures in commercial operations.

‘Positivamente’ – as the project developed by the HR department of the Italian METRO head office is catchily dubbed – is the answer to satisfy customers’ changing expectations of a fulfilling shopping experience. The smile on the face of chief cashier Marianna Greco proves that the pilot of the project, which is now running in 19 other wholesale stores with plans to roll it out across the whole of Italy in 2020, has been a great success. ‘Maybe I’m risking saying something that’s a bit of a truism,’ she says, ‘but “Positivamente” has taught me that small things can have a really big impact.’

Measurable and tangible success for the company

Behind "Positivamente" are training modules developed by Federica Antoniotti, HR Learning Specialist at METRO Italy, and her team.This project is based on training courses that show how customer proximity can be achieved through a positive attitude or how a personal word can create trust. Things that cannot be measured or touched translate into measurable and tangible successes for the company. ‘How are you today? How is the family? How is the restaurant doing? Did you know that the tuna you always buy is on special offer next week? I’m sorry you had to wait so long; we’re really busy right now. But I’ll get someone who can help you with your shopping!’ – with a smile and a personal, friendly remark you can quickly generate a positive mood. And that in turn leads to a long business relationship.

A smile can increase turnover

‘The project helped us change how people think,’ says Maurizio Morigi,Territorial Manager in Castellanza. ‘They no longer just think and act like cashiers – they’re salespeople.’ "Positivamente" has helped the company to give a new, important and significant role to a department that had previously only been involved to a limited extent in the business processes of the market," he sums up and at the same time points to the measurable success: ‘Our customer project within “Positivamente” was about boosting sales of METRO’s digitalised services – especially the free internet presence – and we exceeded our target by 300%,’ he reports with visible pride. ‘The employees of the check-in and check-out department drew customers’ attention to these services and explained the benefits to them.’

For team leader Marianna Greco, the project has shown that her positive attitude alone can not only motivate her team, but can also solve problems and create a sense of cohesion, which helps each individual in their own work. “I say it how it is: our daily work involves many routine activities”, she says bluntly. „However, the skills, the self-confidence and the appreciation that “Positivamente” has given us mean that we can now also act proactively and identify opportunities, that we can influence not just our mood, but our customers’ mood, too. And anyone who works in trade knows: happy customers are good customers.’

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