Thursday, January 04, 2018

Japanese Customer Service - Case Study - Quick Response

By Peter Hanami



Japanese customer service can be known for its quick response to customer concerns whether it be a meal in a restaurant, handling a complaint, making an appointment, getting a delivery or getting a service technician to visit your home to repair an appliance.

Let's start with an example of when you buy a shirt from a store, take it home, try it on and find that the button hole is faulty, not made properly and won’t allow the button through. You call the store, tell them the problem, same day they send a representative to your home with a replacement shirt, same size, and colour (within 3 hours of your call) and collect the damaged shirt. They arrive on time and take the shirt back to the store for you. I have experienced this type of customer service first hand with Japanese retailer Uniqlo.

You order a book online and it gets delivered the same day you ordered it. This is possible if you order books held in Japan with Amazon Japan if the book is over 1500 yen it includes free delivery.

Your out shopping and a parcel delivery comes while your out. A note is left with the details of the parcel. To get the parcel you simply call the phone number on the note, enter the codes for the time you want it delivered, say 7pm and you can arrange it without speaking to anyone. Fast, quick, smooth and seamless.

It's time for a haircut, so you visit your local barbershop, put the money for the cut in a machine and it prints you a ticket, you sit down and wait to be called to the chair. QB House is a franchise chain all over Japan that provide 10 minute haircuts for 1000 yen. In my experience I have never waited more than 15 minutes for a haircut.

Had a long day at the office and your late home but don't want to cook. So you decide to stop for a meal at a restaurant. You make a selection from the menu over 30 items, you pay using a vending machine, you receive a ticket, you hand it to the store staff and they check your order, and size. Then proceed to make it fresh and serve it to you piping hot within 5 minutes of ordering or even quicker. When you visit Japan stop by a Gusto restaurant and experience the quick response first hand.

My final example is about having an appliance repaired in Japan. The video I purchased wasn't working and ate the tape. It couldn't be ejected from the video. I returned to the store with the warranty card and made an appointment for service, the next day the service staff arrived and I was ready to have the product taken away to be repaired. The serviceman smiled and ushered me back inside with the video. He sat down with his tool box and pulled apart the video in front of my eyes on the floor on a rug he had brought with him. In less than 15 minutes he had found the problem, replaced the part and rebuilt the video.

Quick response is an essential part of Japanese customer service whether it be food delivery, telephone answering, bookings, appointment or repairs.

It has become such an integral part of the delivery that the customer just expects it, all the time.

That reminds me about the history of sushi,

“Originally sushi was a popular food sold from the mobile stalls known yatai. It appealed to the busy people of Edo (Tokyo) because it was quick to prepare, and they were not kept waiting after ordering "


Quote from " Illustrated Eating in Japan ” by JTB Travel, page 22.


Copyright. Peter Hanami. 2008. All Rights Reserved.