Sunday, August 25, 2013

Customer Service

I never had much money for buying things when I was in the U.S., so I can't say with certainty that American customer service is uniformly good or bad. The well-known areas like, for example, Sprint's customer service line or waitstaff have routinely been bashed for having bad customer service. I agree, there are many areas in the U.S. where customer service is lacking.

That's where Japan comes in: Japanese Customer Service is Great! That's what I heard before coming and since then. "The staff is polite!," "The staff wraps up your stuff!," "The staff is so helpful!," etc. I didn't have any feelings towards those words written by Westerners, but, they did peak my interest. And when I go out in Japan, I try to think about what would happen in a similar situation back home (especially if I was in a similar situation).

However, I don't think that Japanese customer service is that much better than what I experienced back home. 

Incident 1: Special Orders
I think I've written about this before, but special orders are non-existent here. I remember the first time I went to McDonalds and asked for a sandwich without mayonnaise. The look from the staff was as if I asked them to detail how each item on the menu was made with a calorie count. Of course I ordered in Japanese, but I might as well have ordered in Greek. 

Incident 2: Pee Cup
Last month I had to get a company mandated health check. Every. Single. Japanese health check requires you to pee in a cup. Japanese people have been doing this since they were kids, I have not. There's nothing easy or delicate about peeing in a cup, and my body freezes up. So, every time it's come up, I've told the people that I can't do it and pass on that part. I did the same this time, and was met with a confused look. I explained that unless they have endless time to wait, I won't be doing that part of the health check. The result? A call to my office about confusion over my refusal.

Incident 3: Make-up
I'm not big on make-up. Outside of ballet recitals, I never wore in when I was back home. But here in Japan, every. single. female makes it a habit to wear obsessive amounts of make-up. I've tried to figure out make-up by myself. My skin tone is obviously darker than the "OMG IvE goTtA b WhYtE!!11" Japanese women, but lighter than the, "OMG IvE goTta B DaRK!11" minority of Japanese girls. Going around to stores to ask for help is slightly more helpful than talking to a brick.
Me: Do you have this in any other shades?
Staff: This is all we have. *looks at me* *walks away*

Incident 4: Hair Tie
I was browsing through a somewhat specialty shop that has stores in Japan and overseas when I spotted a cute hair tie. After thinking it over for a week or 2, I decided to buy it. When I went back, it was gone. The staff said, "That was the last one we had. You should have bought it earlier." and left it at that. I was disappointed and resigned myself to the fact that it wasn't meant to be, but decided to look up the shop online. That's when I found that they had another store in my city, so I headed over there on the weekend. I found the hair tie! w00t! 
A few days later, I happened past the original store, and what do I see? The "sold out" hair tie. I wonder why the staff couldn't tell me to check the other store and why she couldn't tell me that another shipment might have it??

I just wanted to buy the damn hair tie you fucking bitch!
Sure, these could all be seen as isolated incidents, me being unlucky, etc. But if you're going to herald your country's customer service as the best in the world, you'd better believe I expect ALL encounters to be great. The tl;dr of this is that shop staff have a manual to follow. If your interaction follows the manual, then great. Everything is gravy. If it doesn't, most people cannot think enough to turn the situation into a good one.

No comments:

Post a Comment