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Customer Experience Specialist

7 insightful lessons from Customer Service in Japan - Livesalesman - Blog

7 insightful lessons from Customer Service in Japan

Being a pioneer of technology and innovation, Japan surely knows a lot about doing things right. That includes customer service. But what surprises people most is how customer service adheres to a deeply rooted value system, in an otherwise tech-savvy and futuristic country.

Understanding and implementing the fundamental principles of this value system is key for Japanese call centers to drive customer retention and loyalty.

Let’s dive into the Japanese way of serving customers.

Wholehearted care for everyone

The word ‘Omotenashi‘ is commonplace in Japan. While it has several different definitions, Omotenashi indicates excellent hospitality – looking after a guest with wholehearted care and commitment.

Customer service in Japan is based on the spirit of Omotenashi and hence needs to be inculcated in Japanese call center. It’s not just about providing great service, but doing it earnestly and passionately. Japanese customer service agents should take every call with equal heart and haly greeting and should assist each and every customer sincerely and enthusiastically. In your Japanese call center, customers should be made to feel that you deserve their business.

Your reputation is everything

Japanese don’t have a risk appetite. In Japan, one of the ways to standout is by showing that you are trustworthy. Customers here love doing business when they can trust your brand and have complete faith in your ability to solve their problems. Japanese customer service agents working in Japanese call centers, should, therefore, work on racking up goodwill and positive word-of-mouth marketing to positively influence customer retention and acquisition. One way to prove to customers that they are not taking any risk by choosing you over others is to show them how happy other customers are with your brand. Japanese customer service agents should highlight and emphasize on any ratings, accreditation or anything else your brand has to its credit to vindicate that you are a trustworthy brand with excellent track record.

High quality service, delivered consistently

In line with the spirit of Omotenashi, Japanese customers expect you to deliver high quality service with a shrewd eye for detail, consistently. This not only applies to the quality of your products or services but everything you  including the quality of interactions that your Japanese customers agents have with them. Japanese call center should have strict quality measures to check all written and verbal communication and train their agents to check and double check everything before sending anything to Japanese customers in order to avoid any mistake or quality issues. Everything that reaches the customer should be perfectly presented, else they would strongly judge you based on the errors you make.  Quality also extends to how your Japanese call center agents respond and action the feedback or inputs shared by the Japanese customers. If they feel that you are not receptive to feedback or have not speedily taken actions to fix the problem they pointed out, there are very good chances that they will not continue giving you any further business. Playing the blame game and not taking ownership of your shortcomings is not tolerated in Japanese culture and can’t be done in your Japanese call center.

Always acknowledge and never say NO!

The holy grail of all Japanese customer service rules that must be implemented in your Japanese call center: always acknowledge and make sure to reply to every phone call, social media message, email, or even fax as soon as possible, preferably within the same day.

While certain queries can be resolved quickly, others might take longer than expected. In such cases, it’s recommended that Japanese customer service agents communicate clearly to the customer about the delay. Keeping your customers in loop is seen as a sign of respect in the country.

For your not-to-list, never say an outright ‘No’ to customers. It is considered highly disrespectful to say that. No matter how eccentric or complex the customer request is, if your agents are going to let the customer know that this can’t be done, articulate it in a nicer and more positive way, not in a curt and unhelpful manner.

You need to be readily accessible at all times

If you cater to Japanese customers, 24×7 Japanese call center is highly recommended. If there is a problem or if they have a question, Japanese customers expect to be able to get in touch with you anytime they need, even it is an unusual hour. It is not unusual in Japan to print personal mobile numbers and home phone numbers on their business cards. While you may not have to go that far, but you need to able to offer round the clock Japanese customer service. If that is not possible, at least make sure that there is an emergency contact procedure in place in your Japanese call center. In your Japanese call center, instead of relying on one communication channel, have multiple customer service channels. This ensures that even if one channel faces an outage or is busy, customers can still get in touch with your Japanese customer service agents and get solutions for their time-sensitive queries.

Being there for the customer round the clock, minimal waiting time, and putting the customer in touch with the right agent in as little time as possible are some ways in which you can make their experience seamless and win over hearts in your Japanese call center.

Deadlines are considered godly

In a country that lays emphasis on consistent and high-quality service, missing out on deadlines is a guaranteed way to fail, something you need to continuously harp on in your Japanese call center. If your Japanese customer service agent provides customers with a deadline related to a particular query, they need to deliver on time. Not one or two days later. No excuses.

While people in many other countries are a bit tolerant towards deadlines, Japanese customers are absolutely strict about it. Not meeting deadlines shows that you do not value your customer’s time.

Show appreciation, it’s a powerful customer service tool

Expressing sincere and heartfelt gratitude towards the customer goes a long a way with Japanese customers. Thank you is a phrase that should be liberally used in your Japanese call center. Train your Japanese customer service agents to say thank you freely while communicating with customers. Japanese customers notice and appreciate when they receive a ‘thank you’ and reciprocate with loyalty, good reputation, word-of mouth publicity and repeat business. However, don’t fake ‘thank you’ just to get rewarded, you need to sound as you mean it. In Japan, culture is to service for the sake of giving, not with the expectation of receiving anything in return, essence of Japanese culture that you should inculcate in your Japanese customer service agents.

Customer service that is consistently excellent but little room for customization

What’s quite surprising about Japan’s customer service culture is not the fact that it is excellent, but how it stays consistently excellent despite operating under strict rules. In case you didn’t know, the Japanese are firm followers of rules in all regards and this is a rule you need to follow in your Japanese call center. Since following rules is the thing, customization is thrown out the window. Expecting and accommodating exceptions and customization is not what Japanese know how to handle. What this means for your Japanese call centre? On one hand your Japanese customer service agents need not think about providing bespoke service based on individual needs but at the same time, they should not expect Japanese customers to do it either.

Similarly, for those who are not very familiar with Japanese language, Japanese has various levels of politeness and complex rules that decide which speech pattern is appropriate to be used in which scenario and the person you are talking with, something that should be an integral part of training in your Japanese call center, specially if your Japanese customer service agents are not native.

Over the years, we have delivered 24×7 Japanese Call Centre Services delivered by native Japanese Customer Service agents for many of our clients around the world and understand the nuances of it. We have over 18 years of experience in delivering Multilingual Call Centre services and Multilingual Customer Support. Apart from Japanese, we offer Chinese Call Center Services, Spanish call center services, French Call Centre Services and Italian Call Center Services amongst 30 other European and Asian languages.


Publish Date: March 4, 2019

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