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Can Japanese customer service standards be exported?

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Compares Japanese customer service to British customer service, looking at historic roots, stakeholder versus shareholder orientation, monozukuri of customer service. Presented to Hosei University students and alumni, December 2009

Published in: Business, Education
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Can Japanese customer service standards be exported?

  1. 1. The difference in customer service between Japan and the UK and its roots in national corporate cultures Pernille Rudlin Director, Rudlin Consulting European Representative, Japan Intercultural Consulting
  2. 2. British customer Japanese customerservice service Resentment  Pride in doing a good job Incompetence  Consistently competent Often rough, crude (mostly) Unwilling to accept  Refined/gentle responsibility or say  Highly ritualised sorry  Collective responsibility Lack of interest in  Empathy with customer customer  Customer is “god” Can be helpful,  Unable to deal with exceptions, egalitarian, genuine? bureaucratic
  3. 3. Roots1. Shareholder versus stakeholder2. Egalitarianism versus Confucianism3. Monozukuri and gembashugi of service4. Compassion versus principle-based
  4. 4. 1. Shareholder versusstakeholder
  5. 5. Shareholder Stakeholder Company should be  Company should be managed to maximise primarily managed for returns to the benefit of shareholders through stakeholders such as dividends, capital gain employees, etc customers, society Assumed to be more  Usually seen as more short-term, profit long-term, growth oriented oriented
  6. 6. “Amongst those dark satanicmills”
  7. 7. Exceptions in the UK Joseph Rowntree - confectioner Cadbury – chocolate manufacturer Joseph Fry – chocolate manufacturer William Hesketh Lever’s Port Sunlight village (Unilever) Robert Owen – cotton mill owner  Provided pleasant houses, schools and a co- operative shop.  Had a shorter day and good wages.  No child under ten was allowed to work in his mills.  Supported the 1819 Factory Act.  Set up the Grand National Consolidated Trades Union (1834) for workers.
  8. 8. Matsushita’s Seven Principles  Contribution to Society  Fairness and Honesty  Cooperation and Team Spirit  Relentless Efforts for Improvement  Courtesy and Humility  Adaptability  Gratitude
  9. 9.  Japanese companies have roots in Meiji Restoration or post war rebuilding of Japan Has led to strong ethos of contribution to society Pride in serving the customer
  10. 10. UK in the 1970s and 1980s
  11. 11.  UK had lifetime employment traditions, but restructuring of British industry in 1970s and 1980s has caused the British to lose faith in their employers Large proportion of steel, coal mining, heavy industry closed down Mass redundancies Increase in service sector jobs perceived as insecure, badly paid, demeaning
  12. 12. 2. Egalitarianism andConfucianism
  13. 13. Egalitarianism Confucianism “the doctrine of the  “The superior man does equality of mankind what is proper to the station in which he is; and the desirability of he does not desire to go political and economic beyond this. In a and social equality” position of wealth and honour, he does what is proper to a position of wealth and honour. In a poor and low position, he does what is proper to a poor and low position.”
  14. 14. John Lewis
  15. 15. Japanese shacho Western CEOs CEOs at Japans top  American CEOs 100 companies by earned $13.3 million market capitalization and European chief earned an average of executives earned $6.6 million at around $1.5 million companies with Income mostly from revenues of higher base salary than $10 billion Take large pay cuts in  Income mostly from bad times stock options, bonuses  Big bonuses even
  16. 16. 3. The monozukuri andgembashugi of service
  17. 17. The monozukuri of service
  18. 18. Monozukuri Requires educated customers, who can appreciate well executed services Japanese children (and adults) learn origami, martial arts, shodo, dance, ikebana – kata, process is all-important Confucian emphasis on ritual and etiquette Can get good service in the UK where knowledge and enthusiasm is mutual between staff and customers (for example, Majestic Wine retail chain)
  19. 19. Gembashugi There is a route from the most junior shopfloor job to the top of the company You have to have worked on the shopfloor in order to become a senior executive Senior management regularly go onto the shopfloor Rapidity in dealing with complaints, necessary improvements
  20. 20. 4. Compassion and principles
  21. 21. Compassion Principles Buddhist emphasis on  Christianity also compassion for others teaches compassion, but also “moral Truth changes, so autonomy” don’t say truth if it will  Truth is absolute and hurt others unchanging Follow the rules and  Integrity = stick to processes without principles much questioning of  Rules should be backed principles by principles, need to Break rules if key know “why” in order to relationships are at obey rules.
  22. 22. Conclusion
  23. 23. Can Japanese customer service beexported to the UK?1. Stakeholder mentality – Japanese multinationals need to bring overseas staff into “seishain” group  Lifetime employment?  Use partnerships, profit sharing, trust structures?  Secondment to Japan2. Egalitarianism and Confucianism – if there is more of a stakeholder ethos, will not resent service sector status so much3. Monozukuri – need more respect for skills education in UK schools. Training at work – secondment to Japan?4. Gembashugi – ties into lifetime employment, seniority based promotion5. Compassion – probably the most culturally “bound” issue. Cannot teach compassion. Japanese companies need to be more explicit, and explain, principles behind expected behaviours

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