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Rinascente is certainly among the companies able to effectively and positively use data monitoring as a further support to coaching initiatives for the development of managers' and salespeople's skills. Over the years, the company has conceived numerous projects to foster the growth and the evolution of its stores, in line with the ever-new expectations of customers.

Rinascente is a prestigious collection of stores with the finest choice of fashions, accessories, beauty, home, design and food. It has eleven stores in Italy, located in the centre of the main cities - including a flagship store in the heart of Milan - and a store in Copenhagen with an ILLUM sign. It offers a wide selection of high-end brands, representing the best made in Italy as well as international brands. It is the place of exclusive events, personal appearances and new product launches. Considered by the evolved consumer as the ideal place to find everything one can wish for, it features a rich and varied offer, perfect for an increasingly up-to-date and demanding target, without pre-packaged formulas.

Each store is a real hotspot, full of events and novelty, where shopping becomes an engaging and rewarding experience; every shop is recognisable, but at the same time it has something unique and distinctive. What the stores have in common are the location - they are all located in the old town of the most important Italian cities – as well as the ambition of not being simple shops, but PLACES. Pierluigi Cocchini, Sales Director of La Rinascente Spa, explains how it was possible to achieve these goals.

Let's start with the Mystery Coaching® project: how does it fit into the context described?

In 2005 the company launched its change of strategy, whose successful results are now plain to all. In 2009, with a completely renewed brand mix and a customers' target group very different from the previous one, we felt the need to intervene in-depth on the service. We codified it, we launched it, we disseminated it, we explained it and we felt the need to equip ourselves with a performance measurement system. Our service model (later to become a ceremony) is sophisticated, has four phases and is built on the customer who wants a high-end product, and above all wants to live an experience and not just go shopping. Together with our partner Susanna Gonnella Ltd. we created a Mystery Audit detection system based on two annual waves. The detection system was obviously conceived on the basis of the service to be monitored: it took several weeks to design a highly evolved, fully customised project that would last over time; certainly not a ordinary tool, but a product tailored to our needs.
For the first two years it was Mystery Shopping; later, with an almost natural evolution, it became Mystery Coaching®.

What kind of measurement was made? What data were used?

On two annual waves with about 1,000 mystery surveys we record all the phases of our ceremony: we have data sorted by store, plan, wave, year, groups of internal sellers or brands. We have aggregated data by full ceremony or even by phase. We are able to go in depth and identify the paths of work and improvement with ease.

How was the data used?

At the beginning it was complicated and difficult to get management and sellers to digest this methodology: we had to strongly insist on the quality and objectivity of the data, underscoring the fact that data are our friends, in the sense that they can help us improve our performance. Subsequently we engaged in reading and interpreting the data, then we moved on to the actual managerial group coaching phase, that is reading of the results and rapid transition to coaching to help people involve themselves in self-improvement to lead teams more effectively and achieve a better performance. Recently in some particularly active stores we have moved to team coaching, that is reading the data with all the teams and then work in the field directly on the real dynamics. Today we use 30% of our budget dedicated to this activity to disseminate the results through meetings, group coaching and team coaching, and we plan to further increase it. 

What development projects have been put in place for the management and the staff?

Since 2009 we have carried out many activities: writing of the model, dissemination, training, detailed explanation of the company strategy, dedicated meetings, operational workshops on different themes. We have invested a lot of time and money on this aspect because, as I said before, the collection of the stores, the brand mix and the change of the customers' target group made it vital for us to act on the service, and I would say more generally on the overall attitude of supervisors and employees.


What coaching skills have been effective in set change in motion?

Simplicity, conciseness, decisiveness, definition of clear objectives and ... tenacity, tenacity, tenacity! 

What is the most important result you have achieved? What added value did you get from the use of measurement tools to support personal and team development?

We have completely changed our attitude to service, and above all we have stopped wasting time in feelings-based chatter, binding ourselves to data - both good and bad - to constantly improve our performance. We have developed and grown several supervisors and many sellers who have followed us along this path.

In conclusion, what about return on investment and future plans?

Together with our partner we are planning further activities related to the service ceremony and its improvement. We will work more and more on coaching, on the dissemination and positive use of results, since our investments in this field have been abundantly repaid. Today it would be impossible to think of our company without a Mystery audit and without the attention we pay to the service. We are still far from perfection, but surely the road is the right one.

Published by Letizia Olivari at http://www.cmimagazine.it/
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