You might be aware of “Japanese way” of doing customer service and hospitality, even if you have never been to Japan. Whilst rules and protocols in Japan can occasionally be frustrating, they create an environment of efficiency, courtesy, and hospitality towards the common citizen. Fortunately, as consumers of local goods, tourists in Japan benefit by enjoying excellent customer service and hospitality. The way businesses in Japan treat the customer is not only a matter of convenience and marketing, but a reflection of respect and an omnipresent will to do right by the customer. Customer service is the cornerstone of a wide, complex and constantly evolving Japanese society. Hospitality is also a fundamental behaviour of the beauty that lures millions of tourists to visit the Japan every year.
Striving for Perfection: Japanese Customer Service
You can find courtesy and respect in many areas of the day-to-day life. In addition to the traditional customer service orientated industries, you can find also find examples of such respect on the street, in trains and other forms of transport. This Japanese way is a part of common life, and as such has a strong influence on customer service standards in general. People in Japan have a way of doing things which aspires to fulfill perfection. While Japanese customer service is not always able to achieve perfection, it is important to strive to make the best effort, so that companies and users alike improve together.
Vending Machines: Just One Example of Customer Service in Japan
Before we talk about people, let us think for instance, about the number of vending machines in the Japanese market. The service is quick, effective, comfortable, and useful. These are adjectives that any company would wish for their products and services to be described as. Besides that, continuous advances in technology and user interface have made Japanese vending machines a great example of that search for customer service perfection in Japan.
The Convenience of Convenience Stores
The convenience stores (konbinis) and supermarkets are another two great examples of excellent Japanese customer service. Konbinis are usually open 24 hours a day and you can get any kind of necessary products for daily use. You can also pay your bill, purchase tickets for events, make photocopies, get your favorite magazines and much more. In the supermarkets in Japan, the number and variety of products is very large, just like in any other capitalist nation. Customers can often feel a bit confused in front of so many offers. Tourists like us are not usually familiar with the organization of products because the tags are in Japanese. Anticipating you are in need of assistance, customer service employees will not only try to help you but they will even leave their work place for a moment in order to show you exactly where the product you are looking for is. This is something that would seem odd in other countries.
(Source: Japan Times)
Restaurants and Hotels: Customer Service Experts
Now, in regards to restaurants and hotels, we can clearly expect a high quality of customer service and hospitality without having to pay the highest prices. Waiters, receptionists and bellhops are at your service to make your experience in Japan a pleasant one you would like to repeat. Giving tips in Japan is not necessary, so their kindness and hospitality comes from the pride they take in their work and not because they are hoping for some form of monetary reward from you.
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Transportation: Hospitality on the Go
Since many years ago, the transportation in Japan has adopted the use of a unique card in order to pay for a trip without the need to retrieve the ticket at the other end of the gate as you enter the station. This allows commuters to pass through the ticket gates faster and easier without any complications. Sometimes, tourists might have purchased the wrong fare ticket, which is why there are machines close to the station exits where you can pay for the difference. Now that is efficient customer service! While it is true that taking a cab in Japan is expensive in comparison to other cities, the vehicles are flawless, and almost every cab driver in Japan has a GPS system.
It is strange and comforting to think that vacations in Japan are not just a break from your own daily routine, but also a break from certain customer service behaviour in our own countries. I assure you that after you experience customer service and hospitality in Japan, you will return with the perfect answer to the question, “What did you like the most about Japan?”