This is because hospitality is highly valued in Japan. So you must satisfy people’s needs and avoid offending them.
When entering any Japanese store, employers will say ‘irasshaimase!’ (translates to ‘welcome (to the store)’) and bows a little. This represents a hierarchy that is omnipresent in Japanese society, especially in relationships such as senpai and kouhai, eldest with their siblings, teacher, student, etc.).
In business, not showing respect or giving your best to the customers is lethal for your company. We know that building customer trust is essential, and to do so you must follow Japanese etiquette and standards.
Why would customers choose a company who does not treat them as well as most the other companies? Competition is stiff, so you must follow the rules and do as much or even better than other companies. If not, customers will take their business elsewhere.
How Customer Service Is in Japan
This is about services that are not digital. In many stores, it is common to see sellers packing your purchase, then carrying it until the exit before holding it out to you, with both hands and a bow. While not every store does this, it is still a thing in Japan. This is because employees want customers to have the best experience possible. This even applies at gas stations where one gas up, another cleans your windshield and another wipes it. Then, they bow until you leave.
The way people are treated when shopping results in high expectations – even when doing online shopping. Three things are often met in Japan:
- A ‘rigorous training regime based on high standards’
- ‘Staff with pride in their work’
- Staff who ‘know their company/product well’
In Japan, serving others has a more positive connotation than in the West. People want to be part of a community by helping others. Japanese people are looking for perfection; they are afraid of failure and mistakes. So they strive for perfection and want to provide the best customer experience. It is also why convenience stores or vending machines are so widespread in Japan: convenient, quick, and easy to use.
Even if employees do not succeed, efforts are rewarded: it is the ‘ganbarisu’ (from ganbaru that means to persevere). Sometimes, employees do their best and spend hours on a project even though they knew right at the beginning that the project was not feasible, to demonstrate ganbarism.
It is respecting the customers, but also a way to show that they are part of the community. Also, customers do not often openly complain, but when they do, the employees do not have much power to help them (like giving a discount, refund completely or partly, etc.).
How Your Customer Service Should Be
If you want to do business in Japan, you will need a sense of hospitality. First, you need to provide customer service in perfect Japanese. Since the language has multiple honorific variations, it is better to hire a native Japanese speaker or ask a specialized company.
For this, we are here to help. Whether you need a strategy or assistance with your new innovative product, we provide value for your new product launch in the Japanese Market. We offer Crowdfunding Support and Digital Marketing Services, all under one roof. You can contact us here.
Your team should reply to everyone in a timely quick manner. By doing this, you can build a relationship with your customers. Even on your social media: reply to every inquiry when it is possible. Work on your communication, human contact is important when conducting business!
In addition to this, it is also a good idea to have a billing inquiry section. This allows customers who need more information to have multiple contacts or do research on the web self-service channels. Try to make your website convenient and easy to use with several options to contact assistance.
If they purchase one of your products, want to return it, or are not satisfied, and want to contact you but are unable to, they will give up and remember the bad experience. So, understand how customers behave and what they would like to see: put yourself in their shoes!
Finally, it is important to attract customers and even more important to keep them. Think about having point cards with appealing benefits (not a small discount every 30,000JPY!).
In 2007, avg Japanese had an average of 8.5 point cards and 5.3 digital cards. Some point cards, like the T-card by Tsutaya, enable people to collect points in many different stores. Some, like the Rakuten card, are also credit cards.