🌸Japanese Customer : What is Omotenashi ? 🌸Japanese Customer Service


June 15, 2022

What is Omotenashi ? 🌸Japanese Customer Service

 Omotenashi is the Japanese word that encapsulates what Japanese customers think of when they think of and expects when it comes to customer service.

To further explain the word let's dissect it, O is a polite honorific used as a prefix to words, the second part of the word is motenashi, which has many meanings such as to make welcome, to entertainment, and hospitality.

A further investigation reveals that the base word motenasu is a verb that means to treat, entertain, and make welcome. In a nutshell, omotenashi is a polite word meaning to welcome, serve and pamper the customer. In real life, it means to anticipate customer needs and act before they ask or notice.

An example to show omotenashi in action in Japan is when you visit a hot spring and stay in a hotel. When you arrive, you check-in, typically sit down in a comfortable chair, receive a hot towel and a drink, register as a guest seated in a comfortable chair rather than standing at the counter, and then accompany the staff to your room as they carry your belongings. As you enter a typical Japanese room with a tatami floor, and shoji screen windows, staff begin to set up the room for you and typically stay in the room for a few minutes. Typically they will place your luggage for you, open windows, and doors, and set up a table for you to sit and have refreshments. They will check that everything is ok if you need anything and then with your permission will leave the room. 

When you leave your room for dinner in the hotel. Hotel staff typically enter your room during this time and set up your bedding for the evening by unfolding futon mattresses, pillows, and bedding. When you re-enter the room, you are surprised to see your bed already made, saving you time and effort. Japanese hotels often have a set package that includes the room, bathing, and food. All very convenient! The whole experience has been dissected and thought about to ensure that nothing is left to chance and that the customer has a great experience. In this example, the customer is pampered. The service is personal, seamless, and smooth.

Remember that in Japan this service is part of the experience, of course, you can still tip the staff if you are impressed. This is just one of the thousands of examples you will encounter as a customer in Japan and it is likely to change your opinion of what customer service is and should be as they take it to the next level.

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