Sunday, December 7, 2008

At least they're trying...

In Japan, you get pretty much used to excellent service in shops and stores. The clerks are friendly and attentive to what you want and do their best to assist you. This is probably always the single largest culture shock that strikes me when I get back home or basically anywhere outside of Japan.

I remember last time when I was back home in Stockholm and a clerk in a clothes store was bothered that she had to hang up a private phone call because a customer happened to want to pay for the stuff he wanted to buy...

That said, there is one chain store in Japan that has a habit of making me very tired every time I go there. The store is called Geo and does the rental video, selling used games, DVDs and CDs thing. As far as general selection and such, the store does a pretty good job, they have most of the stuff and the prices are, maybe not the cheapest, but pretty reasonable. Their main problem lies in the staff. Don't get me wrong, they are trying, they are trying very hard, but I think there's a fundamental problem in the raw material. I am not sure if it's deliberate recruiting or if it's some other factor that drives it, but the clerks there seem to consist of pretty pure Otaku's. They basically all wear thick black glasses, their hairstyle is the basic "let it grow and then cut it a bit myself" fashionable style and they carry themselves with the posture of someone who spends most of his free time crouched in front of a 14" tv watching Gundam and some anime porn to spice things up a bit.

But, yes, there's women working there too! Some relief you might think, but no, they seem to be from basically the same school as the guys over there.

They do try their best, I have to give them that. They're not rude or anything, but they just can't get anything right. Everytime I go there, there is something that they get mixed up or they get confused and I have to stand around with a patient smile waiting for them to sort out the mess they created for themselves. By now, I now what to expect from that place so I just smile and wait patiently.

My advice, you live close to a Tsutaya? Well, stick to that one then and stay out of the Geo!


Taarne said...

It does seem to be a special characteristic of the nordic shopclerk to be able to make you feel uncomfortable when shopping at their store. Sometimes it almost feels like they're expecting an apology for disturbing them to fork over money.

I loved the customer service in Japan. Almost everywhere you went, there was service. Most of the time, it was actually good. Shock horror!
I did find it amusing after a few weeks, that just about every single one of them are programmed to go through this set of lines to the customer, and really go out of their way to verbally document everything that's happening in the transaction. Even though it was pretty clear not a word was getting through. Curiously, if there happened to be a reason for real interaction and I'd indicate my best that I didn't quite understand what they said, they'd most of the time just repeat the same thing in Japanese again. Instead of, for example, trying any other languages, sign language included. Still, beats the living hell out of 99% service I've ever gotten on this side of the world. Fun times!

tokyo flight said...


It is so sweet to talk about service in shops and stores in japan,, they are very cool people & very friendly too, You are correct, In between, Whose picture is this? Is it yours? :)

roppongi Micky

Mr. Salaryman said...

Customer service in Japan is unbeatable!

However... the other side to it is that being a service provider here can be pretty tough since the customer demands top notch treatment. I work in a company providing services, so sometimes we have to work up a real sweat trying to keep the customers happy... From that perspective, the benchmark is considerably lower in other countries...

Micky - I wish it was me, but I can't really say I have such a good sense of flair and style...

Peter said...

I've yet to find anywhere better than Japan at service, I always remember seeing the 'smile:FREE' on the mcdonalds menu, very cheesy, but very Japanese.

Saying that though, its easy to think the people serving you are ultra friendly, the fact is they are well trained and the smiles part of the uniform.

Its always suprised me that Japan hasn't got any online DVD clubs.

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