In Japan they have extraordinary customer service competitions

The culture of extraordinary customer service is so pervasive that some Japanese companies have competitions for who can give the best customer service. All Nippon Airlines, ANA, one of Japan's airlines, has a customer service competition that focuses on the little interactions that can make life so pleasant.

It is all part of their 'Omotenashi' hospitality and service ethos that we'll be hearing more and more about as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics approaches.

"Winners of ANA’s most recent competition were rewarded for engaging in a fun conversation with a passenger who said he loved airplanes; providing a magnifying glass to an elderly couple reading small text on a customs form; and other generous gestures."

There is so much scope for this in the world of face to face customer service interaction.

Japanese look forward to Tokyo’s turn

There is already a lot of anticipation in Japan as it looks forward and prepares for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

And we can already see that the "Omotenashi" hospitality ethos is going to be heavily promoted.


"Wrestling father Kawai, meanwhile, hopes Tokyo can deliver on its promise to provide omotenashi (the spirit of selfless hospitality) to the thousands of visiting athletes, team support members, journalists and fans in 2020."

What can we expect from Tokyo 2020?

"It’s going to be all about Japanese ‘omotenashi’ (traditional hospitality) at Tokyo 2020 with a focus on unity in diversity and working on leaving a positive legacy for future generations."

2020 Olympics already on the radar

I think the focus on traditional hospitality and the extraordinary customer service that goes with it will be a very helpful lesson to the younger generation.

The Olympics – a driver of social change

Rio Olympics lead to Tokyo 2020 - and Omotenashi

This is an interesting commentary about the kinds of social change leaders try to foist on their Olympics host societies. Not always entirely successfully.

"For the Games in 2020, Japan is already pushing its people to show more “omotenashi,” or hospitality."

In my experience it doesn't take much 'pushing'. Japanese people have been practicing advanced customer service and hospitality skills for centuries.

The Japanese are already gearing up for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

"Strive to attain Japanese values and aesthetics to celebrate the unique features of Japan, such as world-class urban infrastructure and safety. TOCOG’s High Level Sustainability Plan (Sustainability Plan)2 reminds bidders that their offers should emphasize Japanese beauty or traditional values such as omotenashi (the spirit of selfless hospitality), mottainai (sense of avoiding waste), wa wo motte toutoshi to nasu (harmony is the ultimate view) and edomae (traditional Tokyo style). Technology should be cutting-edge"

Who would doubt that they will put on the best organised Olympic Games ever?


Calling this an example of Omotenashi is a stretch. But a nice story anyhow

Omotenashi is a word that is becoming like a Rorschach blot. Meaning anything the observer wants it to mean!

I call this highly intelligent product innovation. Something, perhaps, on the the Japanese would stretch themselves to.

Look at the Youtube video link in the article to see how it works.

You don’t actually have to bow in order to give great customer service

Everybody associates the great customer service in Japan with bowing. But this is only the Japanese way of greeting one another.

We in western societies have our own ways of offering polite greetings but too often fail to do this to our customers.


This article highlights how Japanese shops are teaching their Chinese national staffers how to greet the Japanese way.

The Omotenashi themed domain names are only just beginning

As we begin the build up to the 2020 Olympics we will be seeing the "Omotenashi" hospitality branding building up relentlessly.

Here is another one. This time from Chiba city.

The Japanese are rightly proud of their world-beating reputation for extraordinary customer service.

But it is a pity the real meaning of the Omotenashi word is going to get a bit lost in the noise.

We're here to bridge that culture gap.



Why is service still so bad in the UK?

This article is a few years old. But nothing much has changed in the meantime.


Michel Roux, one of my favourite Michelin star award-winning chefs has put his finger on some of the answers as to why.







I broadly agree with his professional and expert observations but think our cross-cultural programmes have some of the answers to address the underlying causes.