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Mumbai: Day two of the seventh edition of the Mint Luxury Conference began with a session on modern-day manners with Joanne Milner, chief executive of Debrett’s, Britain’s leading authority on etiquette.

The luxury lifestyle brand is best known for publishing the Debrett’s Handbook on “British Style Correct Form Modern Manners" and for compiling the Debrett’s 500 list of the most influential people in British society in conjunction with The Sunday Times.

Milner spoke about how luxury brands can benefit from investing in enhancing employee etiquette and social skills. “People buy people, not products," she said. “A luxury brand can’t simply compete in the market on high quality because other brands also offer the same level of quality.

Therefore, it comes down to how a customer is treated and how special he’s made to feel by the brand and that’s why the education and training of the workforce plays a key role for luxury brands." Balancing familiarity and formality while building a rapport with clients is essential to the luxury experience, she added.

On observing online etiquette, Milner said that it’s important to keep one’s professional and personal lives separate on social networks. “If I’m going to meet somebody new, the first thing I do is Google the person and of course lots of interesting things they post on Facebook and Twitter come up," she said. “This allows me to make a judgement and it’s important to remember that it might not always be positive." She also said that work emails must be treated like formal letters.

As for adapting to cultural differences in social conduct, Milner said that as long as one uses courtesy and respect to build trust, the specifics can be learned along the way.

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