By Neal Price
I had often heard about Japan’s amazing customer service – complete with bows to one another, presenting and receiving business cards with both hands, and efforts made by employees to go out of their way to assist even a total stranger – but I was not prepared for what I experienced firsthand. The hotels I stayed in weren’t glamorous, but the employees made me feel as though I was the most important guest in the establishment. Taxi drivers refused to allow me to handle my luggage, even after my objections (I over-packed and my suitcase was FAR too heavy). The drivers even did some sort of a trick that opened my car door for me when I had arrived at my destination. And the subway system! Attendants on the platform in white gloves to make sure that everyone was on safely? I watched closely to see that they even bowed as the train departed from the station. And talk about clean! As we say in the South, it looked like you could eat off the floor (not that I would suggest that)! Then, I had the opportunity to ride the Shinkansen from Osaka to Tokyo. Again, witnessing the professionalism of the attendants and getting the feeling that they genuinely cared that I was on the train was nothing short of amazing.
Being a customer service professional for most of my adult life, I can sniff a fake from miles away. Even worse for me is interacting with a customer service “professional” who is totally disconnected and couldn’t care less about me or their job. I immediately question doing business with that employee, or even the company itself, after only one negative encounter. Bottom line, our lives are much too hectic to deal with slow or lackluster service. To quote a recent viral Internet personality – “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” The customer service professionals in Japan provided me with an experience that I won’t quickly forget. I fell in love with Japan and can’t wait to go back.
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