Professional Jeweler Archive: What Is Five-Star Service?

March 2002


What Is Five-Star Service?

Leading Jewelers of the World shows how one organization defines the finest in personal service

When New York City diamond supplier W.B. David introduced a program last year to brand a select group of jewelers as “Leading Jewelers of the World” (Professional Jeweler, August 2001, p. 27), some groused that it dictated too much and interfered too deeply with their businesses, especially their service standards.

But 10 or so charter members took the plunge this past fall to see what they could learn from a program that promised to transform them from great jewelers to superlative ones. “We all have egos, but there’s always room for improvement,” says Al Molina of Molina Fine Jewels, Phoenix, AZ, a charter member whose business is already upscale.

Molina also points out there’s not much consistency among jewelers in the luxury services they offer. A program such as Leading Jewelers can help set a high standard, bringing more credibility to the industry as a whole, he says.

Leading Jewelers is W.B. David’s contribution to heightening consumer awareness of diamonds, a challenge De Beers raised as part of its new Supplier of Choice program. De Beers’ Diamond Trading Co. wants clients such as W.B. David to help it improve diamonds’ market share among luxury products. Through increased advertising, branding and promotions, DTC clients, called sightholders, are being required to promote diamonds more consistently and more often.

For W.B. David, that meant sending its message to consumers in partnership with the retailers who buy its diamonds. The company believes the new program will help jewelers enhance their images while increasing desire for diamonds.

The Leading Jeweler Drill

The challenge for Diane Warga-Arias, the consultant who designed Leading Jewelers of the World, was training jewelers in the standards of the program while allowing them to retain their own images. “We have to be flexible – to adapt the program to the store, region and brand – so it complements and reinforces their images too,” she says.

Rather than focus only on a store’s physical characteristics or staff qualifications – these were deemed acceptable before W.B. David reached agreements with the charter stores – Warga-Arias trained her sights on a less quantifiable but equally important goal: Help stores reach new heights of personal service.

At two-day training sessions, Warga-Arias stressed jewelers needed to think of luxury service in terms of physical, mental and emotional experiences. Customers are drawn to stores that offer all three, she says.

Human Checkers

At the sessions, Warga-Arias took her own advice to engage the jewelers in her training. She divided them into two teams at the back of the room, where a checkerboard carpet was wired so that when someone stepped on certain squares, a buzzer sounded. The object was to be the first to get to the opposite side without skipping spaces and without a buzzer going off.

“It was a perfect metaphor for the process I was about to teach – that jewelers should get their customers involved in their stores and its merchandise at the same level physically, mentally and emotionally,” she says. Physical involvement came with the challenge of walking on the carpet. Mental challenge involved trying to avoid the squares with buzzers. Emotional involvement came with each group’s teamwork by recording, managing and sharing information.

Practical Application

Warga-Arias offers these suggestions for involvement:

  • Physical. Flowers are a common jewelry store decoration. But arrangements should be upgraded so they are spectacular enough to evoke gasps of pleasure by customers.
  • Mental. Many stores play music, but Warga-Arias suggested Al Molina, who is involved in the arts in Phoenix, play music that corresponds to performances in town at the time. She encouraged his sales team to be able to speak knowledgeably about the music and its composers.
  • Emotional. Candy is common in stores, but Warga-Arias would like to see it taken to new heights. Instead of leaving it on the counter, bring it out with some ceremony and rave about it as the finest chocolate from Belgium, for example.

Such service extras – added to spectacular jewelry, well-trained sales associates and luxurious surroundings – are the keys to being perceived as a Leading Jeweler of the World, she says. They’re also a way for you to compete with travel, which has taken so many luxury dollars with an emphasis on unique experiences. “This is the moment for our industry to leave the travel industry in the dust,” she says. “We have a chance to get back in the game by creating luxury experiences. We need to make the purchase memorable on every level.”

– by Peggy Jo Donahue

Editor’s note: Leading Jewelers of the World is not related to or associated with the Leading Jewelers Guild Inc., a California organization of jewelers who pool promotional and advertising dollars and own a registered trademark of its logo.

Becker’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry, West Hartford, CT, is a charter member of Leading Jewelers of the World. Training from the program helped the store expand its quality-service atmosphere.

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications