Posts Tagged Japanese customer service

March 26, 2006 part 1 – Canadian parents on the loose in Japan

I showed up at my parent’s hotel in the morning, surprised to find that they were not only awake, but had already been out of the hotel and had some adventures on their own. This is not something that would have happened on their first trip to Japan!

My parents had woken up early due to jetlag and general excitement about their trip. Instead of hiding in the hotel room, they went and introduced themselves to the desk staff, who had already been told that Canadians were staying in the hotel. Instead of being intimidated, the staff were eager to practice their English with the friendly gaijins. Note to any of my students: do this! Practice English when you have the opportunity, especially with native speakers!

After having some breakfast, my dad started asking the hotel clerks about the parking lot. Hotel Miwa has an automated parking system, which is an awesome way to store a lot of cars in a small space. We had seen a demo of this kind of car storage at Toyota Mega Web in Odaiba on my parents’ first visit. My dad asked the clerk for a demo, and he happily retrieved and put away cars so my parents could watch. Customer service in Japan is generally exceptional, but taking the time to retrieve car after car to entertain a guest is really going above and beyond.

Car in an automatic parking system

Car in an automatic parking system

My parents had also wandered over to the nearby Ito-Yokado, a cool department store / grocery chain. My dad manged to order a coffee and got his picture taken with a female model who was standing near a car inside the store. I’m not sure the exact context of what happened, and I don’t think my dad really knew what was going on either. He just somehow ended up in this picture:

Car model

The first time my parents came to Japan I was their tour guide and never too far away from them. This time was already different, and I was looking forward to seeing what we would get up to!

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December 27, 2004 – I miss Japanese Customer Service

I did a lot of shopping in Winnipeg today. After spending hours in the mall, I realized how much I miss Japanese Customer Service. If you only ever shop in Canada, you don’t realize just how good service can be. I found that some clerks just simply had no interest in serving customers at all.

In Japan I have had great service in almost any place where I was a customer. Staff will do their best to help you, even with a language barrier. Restaurant servers are fantastic even though they don’t get tips. Japanese customer service truly raises the bar for everyone else.

The worst offenders on my return home┬áso far have been Sport-Check and Roots, where the staff had no interest in working at all. I am not sure if they were unhappy to be working in busy stores over the holidays, or if they just didn’t like their jobs. Getting any help at all was a major imposition. Those clerks would have been fired in Japan immediately. Koya, Moore’s, Robin’s Donuts and Osborne Cyber Cafe (where I am now) haven’t been very good either.

To be fair, I have gotten some great service at Carlos and Murphys, Olive Garden, Applebees, Lens-Crafters and The Liquor Mart. Well done folks, well done.

I spent several hours at Polo Park mall shopping with my mom. By the end I was tired and grumpy, and just wanted to leave. If you are living away from home and only have limited time to spend with your family, spend that time doing something you both enjoy. Shopping was a poor choice and I wish I had just played a few intense games of Scrabble instead.

(2014 Update) Please remember that these posts happened 10 years ago. I make no assertions about the level of service you will receive in any of these stores now. Even if the service has improved, it’s still probably not as good as service in Japan. Seriously, I miss Japanese customer service.

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