Customer service is one of Japan’s proudest assets to the world. In addition to visiting Japan for its culture, nature and historical monuments, another major purpose of foreign visitors to Japan is to experience the excellent customer service (omotenashi) that they cannot experience in their own countries.
Services offered free of charge in Japan are charged separately as a matter of course in other countries. We hear many such voices. However, in recent years, Japan’s world-class customer service has been declining and fraying.
For example, previously on-time delivery requests were delayed much later than the specified time, and due to poor coordination between departments, documents to be sent to customers were left unattended and not a single document was received without repeated contact. Other problems included the fact that the food was hot when we stayed at the accommodation before, but it was cold. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of people who say they were disappointed that the accommodation was not cleaned properly.
Japan as a technological powerhouse is a thing of the past, and export-related companies have moved their production bases overseas, where labour costs are lower, under the slogan of cost-cutting. This has certainly solved the immediate cost-cutting problem, but it has also meant that Japan’s then proud technology has also been transferred overseas, and has been overtaken by companies from other countries that have gained technological competitiveness, which has unfortunately weakened the Japanese manufacturing industry considerably, with some exceptions. As you know, Japan is a resource-poor country with limited content to win. If custmer services, which are a major weapon, are reduced to the same level as in other countries, Japan could become even less attractive.
Causes of poor customer service
There are several possible causes of customer service decline.
Shortage of human resources.
Japan’s working population is declining, partly due to a falling birthrate and an ageing population. The number of people working in customer service is particularly low due to the stressful and unpopular nature of the job.
Some suggest that companies’ cost-cutting drive is leading to a decline in customer service. Customer service is one of the most costly departments for companies. Therefore, an increasing number of companies are cutting back or outsourcing their customer service departments in order to reduce costs.
Reform of working methods
Reforms in working methods have led to shorter working hours and the introduction of flextime systems. These working style reforms are expected to reduce the burden on customer service staff. However, if these working style reforms do not take root, the burden on customer service staff may increase and the quality of customer service may deteriorate.
It can be said that Corona has had the biggest impact, although there are a number of reasons for this, such as.
The business environment of enterprises has changed as a result of the Corona epidemic.
Corona has also changed the business environment of enterprises. Specifically, these changes include.
* Decreased sales and profits.
* Increased pressure to reduce costs.
In response to these changes in the business environment, companies implemented cost-cutting measures. As a result, more companies have reduced staff in customer service departments or outsourced. This too is thought to have led to a decline in customer service.
Staff reductions have increased the workload of customer service representatives, leading to slower and less courteous responses.
Outsourcing has resulted in a lack of knowledge and skills among customer service representatives and reduced problem-solving skills.
These effects could be considered to have led to a decline in customer satisfaction and a decline in customer service.
Of course, it is possible that not all of this is directly attributable to the impact of Corona. However, it could be argued that the Corona pandemic was the catalyst for the decline in customer service in Japan.