So we weren’t too surprised to hear that an airport in Japan has been judged to be the best airport in the world for baggage handling. And the details of the top-notch service that helped Kansai International Airport clinch the title are really quite impressive. For starters, the Osaka airport hasn’t lost a single item of luggage in over 20 years.
We’ve spoken many times about the insanely good customer service here in Japan. The latest example comes to us from the branch of Toho Cinemas in Umeda, Osaka. If you visit their webpage right now, you are immediately greeted with an urgent message and fervent apology from the management regarding a terrible mistake: Some customers were given the wrong soda!
The reputation of Japanese customer service speaks for itself, but among the various businesses in the country certain establishments stand out even more for making patrons feel at home. Recently, President Magazine conducted a survey of over 1,000 men and women to find out which eating and drinking establishments made this grade.
Restaurants are often ranked in terms of delicious food, variety, and value, but this time we’re going to see which eateries people feel most comfortable going into and which ones have all the charm and ambiance of a prison chow hall.
One of the most awesome things about Japan is that you can expect amazing customer service just about anywhere. With exuberant convenience store clerks and burger deliverymen who reimburse you for the phone call you placed your order with, you almost expect employees to come bursting out of the walls in order to serve you…and sometimes they do!
After living here for any decent length of time, it’s easy to grow tired of the seemingly endless slew of blogs either singing Japan’s praises or celebrating its weirdness. But the thing is, there’s a reason so many of them exist. While many of the claims bloggers in Japan make are somewhat exaggerated or simply rehashes of the same experiences foreigners arriving in the country decades earlier had, there are nevertheless times when living in Japan can make you realise that the country is actually quite special.
Just last night, for example, I found myself the recipient of a tiny but powerful gesture that made me feel – after more than eight years of living here – that Japan is pretty damn cool sometimes.
Last night, dear reader, a fast food company gave me 10 yen. That’s about US$0.09.
Tokyo’s Akihabara is known the world over as a haven for all things otaku. Whatever your nerdy penchant, be it J-pop princesses, moe-style hug pillows or plastic Gundam models, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for in one of the thousands of outlets surrounding the station, and the enormous UDX complex, which is home to dozens of shops, restaurants and event spaces, is arguably the most sophisticated nerd-catering venue ever built.
Like many smarter establishments, UDX’s public restrooms are kept spick-and-span pretty much all of the time, and politely worded signs ask patrons to refrain from certain types of behaviour while making use of the facilities. Until today, though, we’d never imagined that an entertainment complex would have to ask visitors not to block up their toilets with banana peels…
I am crazy about Calbee Lightly Salted Potato Chips. I find its balance of saltiness and crispy texture to be really addictive. Some of my friends are fans of other chip brands, but I have stuck to Calbee’s for quite a long time.
The other day, I was enjoying a bag of chips when I happened to feel something like a hair in my mouth. I spat it out and saw something that looked like a thread attached to a chip. There was little doubt that what I saw was an accidental artifact of the production process.
During my university years, I had the pleasure of working part-time in a customer service role for a fairly well-known company in the UK. My job mainly involved manning the customer complaints line, apologising profusely on behalf of the company and asking customers in as nice a way as possible if they’d swear at me a bit less and not bring my mother into it. Happy days, as I’m sure you can imagine.
Some customer complaints are, of course, perfectly valid, and it’s only right that people should take a moment to voice their dissatisfaction when they feel they have been let down in some way. But as the following collection of tales from Japan’s netizens shows, for every reasonable customer complaint there are a dozen cases of customers behaving like idiots, demanding the impossible, or simply not knowing what they’re complaining about.
Airports and airlines frequently get a bad rap. The internet alone has more complaints about air travel than and episode of Evening at the Improv. However, buried deep among the stories of security gropings, crushed luggage and delayed flights lie some uplifting stories to restore your faith in humanity.
A while back we reported on JAL’s kind move to provide specialized guitar cases free of charge. That’s swell, but this story about what happened to our reporter Kuzo on his return flight on ANA after eating some dancing squid will brighten your day and remind you what customer service is all about.
There’s a so much talk over the level of customer service in Japan that you’d expect the locals to become desensitized to it before long. But every once in a while, a business raises the bar so much that even Japanese people can’t believe it.
One such business can be found in the posh Azabu-Juban area of Tokyo: a dry cleaner called Rejouir that is the one place that will take a paint-stained Hermes coat when no one else would dare try. One after another, customers including boutiques and other cleaners walk away satisfied. To those people, Rejouir’s president Takeshi Furuta is often referred to as “Kami” (god).
Recently, a bizarre scandal surfaced involving South Korean McDonald’s home delivery service. The chain of events was set in motion when a university student living in Seoul’s Mapo district made a phone call to order two hamburger combos, then waited for his order to be delivered. Little did he know that in doing so he was about to become entangled in a scandal that caught the attention of most of Asia.
Japan has a way with customer service. From elevator ladies whose only job is to push the floor buttons to shop keepers who greet every patron with a hearty I rasshaimase (Welcome!), there’s no shortage of examples of great service. One such example has crept up from the depths of the subway to surprise and delight the people of the Internet: secret walls!
Japan has some of the best customer service in the world. We recently ran a story about a convenience store worker who packed our writer’s purchase so that the cold and hot drinks wouldn’t touch. This is just one of the many examples of the attention to detail that is given by workers in Japan. Sure, sometimes you land up having to wait five minutes at the department store while the clerk wraps every individual item (and the line of people behind you slowly creeps past the front doors), but this level of service is nothing short of amazing.
On my most recent visit to Baskin Robbins (it’s simply known as “31 Ice Cream” in Japan), I was shocked by the level of service I received after ordering a single cup of ice cream to-go. Most astonishing was the small block of dry ice that was placed on top of the ice cream to prevent it from melting on the way home.
Japanese website Netallica recently conducted a survey of foreigners, asking them to name services and jobs in Japan that leave them in a state of bewilderment.
Take a look at the top seven services that make foreigners in Japan pause and exclaim, “What the heck?!”
On January 4, McDonald’s Japan launched their “Enjoy! 60 Second Service” campaign, which promises customers their meal in less than 60 seconds or their next hamburger free.
The service is only in effect from the hours of 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM and the time limit doesn’t apply to products that are known to take over a minute to prepare, like the hefty Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese.
Even still, the promotion is shaping up to be a bit too much for the poor McDonald’s Japan floor staff, who are literally on the timer with every order. Only two days after launch, Twitter has erupted with complaints that the promotion has caused a sudden drop in the quality of service, with many people sharing photos of their own “60 second disasters.”
Let’s face it. We have all complained about fast food chains at least once in our lives – whether it’s about the lack of menus, not serving you the cheeseburger you want, or a burger made too spicy. And the most common complaint out there has got to be “fast food not fast enough!”
Due to the low pay at fast food restaurants, it is not unusual to have a shortage of workers behind the counters and long queues of customers waiting to be served. When that happens, most of us would just mumble a few words of dissatisfaction to ourselves.
But when six out of seven counters are closed, and you are made to queue for 15 minutes without any proper explanations, even the most patient man can start to lose his temper.
The fast food experience in Japan is much different that it is in America.
In Japan, step into any fast food restaurant and you are treated with the kind of service you see in commercials. Polite and attentive staff work in seemingly perfect unison to get customers their meal as quickly as possible, all while maintaining a smile on their face.
In America, the reality isn’t so golden. Fast food staff are often uninspired and lack enthusiasm and, perhaps as one reason for that, the customers can be loud, obtrusive and sometimes even violent.
At least, this is the image people are getting from two YouTube videos that have been making the rounds in the Japanese net since this weekend.
One of the things almost all foreign tourists to Japan comment on is the quality of customer service. The phrase “the customer is god” is hammered into Japanese customer service and restaurant staff and the politeness and thoroughness with which they tend to you certainly does a great job at making you feel like one.
Yet while there are plenty of stories on the net about Japanese customer service from a foreigner’s perspective, what do the Japanese think about the rest of the world’s manners?
Reiko Kawakami over at Excite Japan shares her observations about shopping and customer service in the West vs. Japan based on her experience living abroad in England, Italy and Romania.
So how does a lady hailing from a country where the customer is king view these 3 Western countries? Her analysis follows below:
Among lens makers, Sigma is a brand famous the world over. They’ve been in the news recently for their February 8th announcement of the 46 megapixel DP1 Merrill and DP2 Merril models, but this article is actually about an experience I had with them late last year. Read More