Fresh off of its most recent scandal involving a black sweater that, worn together with a matching balaclava, would give the appearance of blackface, Gucci's business is better than ever. So much so that on Wednesday, the Italian fashion house announced the opening of Gucci 9 Hudson, the new North American Client Services Center, fully realising Gucci’s vision to put the human touch at the centre of remote service.
“I was not worried at that time and I’m not worried now. I think we are stronger than we were 10 months ago,” Gucci's CEO Marco Bizzarri told the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, referencing the aforementioned scandal. “In the bigger scheme of life, that is part of the game. You think you are the best at doing something but you realise you are not, so you change the organisation and you lead with that,” he continued. “Today, anyone can write a tweet and that can become the truth. But it’s part of life. To me, the worst thing that we could have done is to find the person who did that specific piece of ready-to-wear...I’m not there to blame anybody who potentially made that mistake.”
Instead, Bizzarri is focusing on Gucci 9. The centre employs 150+ international Client Advisors who are fluent in 8 different languages. It features three different touchpoints (phone, email, live chat), situated in a physical showroom decorated exactly like the Gucci stores around the world — all connected in real time to Gucci’s global audience.
“I think this is the most beautiful office that we have in the entire world,” Bizzarri said on Wednesday, during a tour of the 35,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility. “The normal offices are not like this,” he clarified. “I would trade my office in Milan to come here.” The space is so beautiful because creative Alessandro Michele designed it to be so. “The feeling is very much the Gucci aesthetic of Alessandro Michele,” Bizzarri said. “He created a very warm environment. We didn’t save a lot of money. It was an investment. We really believe that if you are surrounded by beauty, then you will react by consequence.”
Bizzari recognises that it is incredibly rare that a creative director would oversee the design of a call centre. “Listen, Alessandro is kind of a strange bird,” the 57-year-old CEO said. “First of all, for the size of Gucci, he is the only creative director. If you look at any of our competitors, they all employ many different creative directors. Alessandro is overseeing everything related to the touchpoints of the clients. He loves that. You can feel it.”
Before anyone is employed at the call centre, they must undergo a rigorous hiring process, complete with blind interviews and a voice training led by a British speech expert. Once hired, staffers sit in plush offices designed by Michele’s Florentine atelier, complete with chartreuse upholstered folding screens, carpeted showrooms, and marble countertops. Gucci bestsellers like the Ace sneaker and the Dionysus bag are displayed like at a boutique.
Bizzarri maintains you can feel the warmth of the call centre staffers on the other end of the phone, too. That's why it was so important to eliminate bias in the hiring process. Gucci 9 will be the first time the brand can make an impact on some customers. “No one sees the faces of the people so we try to understand what kind of empathy could have come through the telephone, through email. We believe that a smile has a sound.”