Why Foreigners Say Japan Customer Service is Awesome? – 5 Differences from Other Countries
People who have travelled to Japan would say in one voice, “Japan customer service is awesome!” As we are living in Japan, we may not pay attention to it. However, it seems to be true that Japan’s customer service in such as hotels and restaurants is very high quality.
This article, I would like to think about the reasons why Japan customer service is given high credit by international with you.
1. Customer is God （お客様は神様）
It seems that the education of “Customer is god” is not that popular in other countries. If you have lived over seas or you’re from other countries, you’d know the concept that “the shop and the customer should be on an equal level” However, in Japan customer should always be superior than the shop. In Japan’s shops, you will find everybody polite and modest, because the value of “customer is God” has already taken root in their society.
So, can we expect this “customer is God” concept be accepted in other countries as well?
Things don’t seem to go that well. It’s difficult to expect this kind of “modest service” from other countries’ shops.
For instance, it’s said that France people have difficulty to provide friendly customer service because “smiling to attract sales is considered as working like a slave.” In US, your tip would be expected if the sales person is giving out a “smiling service”.
2. Customer satisfaction is the key to winning other shops
If you observe the hotels and restaurants in Japan, you would notice there is a keen competition among them. Compared to other countries, Japan has many competitors in a certain industry, which providing similar price and qualities of goods. It’s hard to differentiate themselves from other rival companies.
What they do to win the competition is, to improve their customer service. “OMG, A & B shops are providing good customer service, I can’t fall behind.” As a result, it became a “customer service competition” in the industry. We can say that the “awesome customer service” in Japan is a result of the companies’ competition to boost customer satisfaction for their products. In addition, Japan itself, a high population density country, is easy to cause keen competition in any industry.
3. Identity < Responsibility
Why this kind of relationship is possible in other countries? In western world, a salesperson is treated as “an individual”, everybody has high pride for their own identity. In western society, no matter you work as a reception desk for a company, or as a waiter in a restaurant, your identity gets to be protected. Mr. Smith is still Mr. Smith, no matter where he works for, the identity as a company worker is secondary. Identity as an individual is emphasized there.
In contrary, because of Japan collectivism? In Japan, people tend to consider themselves as “a part of a group”. The assertion of individual is secondary. The ability of “acting as a representative of company” is a necessary condition for becoming an adult in the society. Your identity should be temporarily forgotten while working for a company. Instead, performing the responsibility of your job is required.
We can say that these Japanese values lead to a improvement of customer service on the whole industry. We feel Japanese customer service is professional because they never show their own identity during their work.
4. “Working” comes first
Even though the society is prepared for a “awesome customer service”, if people are not motivated to work hard, everything will be out of the question. Luckily, Japanese people tend to take “working” more seriously compared to other countries.
I suppose you have heard of the stereotype about Japanese is hardworking. “over time”, “working on weekend”, & etc is very normal in Japan society. Moreover, many Japanese choose to stay away from marriage just because they don’t have a stable work status. Japanese people seem to take “working” as their first priority of life.
In addition, even though the special system in Japan – “lifetime employment” 終身雇用 and “seniority by length of service” 年功序列 – have collapsed recently, still many Japanese people tend to prefer the 2 old systems. While the concept of “Well just change the job to make a better life” is quite normal in other countries, but not in Japan.
In other countries, people seem not to consider themselves as a “family member” in the company. People flow to another company which has better paid. Because of that, the attachment to a company is weak. However, Japanese have a strong attachment to their company, which is likely to link to their awesome customer service.
5. Society of community コミュニティ社会
The society of community seems to relate to the “hardworking” characteristics of Japanese. In Japan, the ability of cooperation and reading between the lines are necessary to work in Japan society as an adult. Japanese values the harmony and the cooperativeness in a group. Even outside the company, they care “what people think about me?”, that leads naturally to their collectivism notion – acting according to others.
As for work, everybody thinks unconsciously “I have to work hard because he is working hard”, “Let’s work hard together as a team”, as a result, the whole company, the whole country became “hardworking”.
Therefore, we can say that the “awesome customer service” is a fruit of the “community awareness” in Japan.