Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Is flirting Italian as well as Pizza??

Would you like an extra-cheesy line, madam? Pizza Express staff to get lessons in flirting

Last updated at 7:28 PM on 13th October 2010
Topping: Pizza Express ia aiming to completely redefine the restaurant experience for customers
Topping: Pizza Express ia aiming to completely redefine the restaurant experience for customers
They are used to serving up plenty of mozzarella.
But now staff at Pizza Express could be treating their diners to a side order of cheesy lines - as the company trains staff in the art of flirtation.
The style of flirtation however, might not be quite as traditionally Italian as the pizzas they are hoping to sell.
Waiters and waitresses at the restaurant chain are learning interaction skills in an attempt to help customers relax.
So far 40 staff have been trained up by former actor Karl James who specialises in teaching people to have 'fantastic conversations'.
Mr James has been running bespoke workshops with Pizza Express employees to help them improve the way they deal with customers.
The idea, he says, is for the frontline staff to be able to 'engage with customers in a way that is playful and enjoyable, but where the customer experience comes first.'
    He added: 'Flirting is a fantastic thing to do, but it's something that the British are very embarrassed about.
    'But there's a real distinction between flirtation and coming on to someone.'
    Flirtation Karl James style involves encouraging his pupils to be honest with customers, to treat them as individuals and not to hurry them.

    He also insists it is essential to listen to what customers have to say.
    The 46-year-old said: 'The most flirtatious thing you can probably do with anybody is to listen to them.
    'There's something fantastic when somebody really engages with you, looks at you and appreciates you.'
    The two days of training have taken place ahead of the launch of a new Pizza Express restaurant in Richmond next week.
    On Wednesday a company sauce was reported as saying: 'With social media and texting reducing our face-to-face interaction, Pizza Express has enlisted the help of a conversational expert who is incorporating flirting and unique conversation techniques.'
    Mr James had played a key role in designing Pizza Express' new training and recruitment process, including teaching staff 'how to flirt (subtly) with customers so they feel more comfortable and relaxed', he said. 
    He added the hectic pace of modern life often prevented people from having a quality conversation. 
    Mr James runs The Dialogue Project, a specialist school that helps people master the art of conversation. 
    The company's other business clients include Unilever and the BBC. 
    Angela Baron, an engagement adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, backed the flirting technique, which she said was becoming more popular in service-led businesses. 
    She said: 'Pizza Express is a fun, family-orientated business and I can see that teaching people to engage with customers and have fun with them would give them a better experience.'
    However, she warned the company to explain to staff exactly what they meant by flirting or the training could become a recipe for disaster. 
    'If they mean customer flirting in the sense of 'what are you doing later when the kids are in bed', that's not a good idea,' she said. 

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