An Important Customer Is Coming to Japan! What’s the Best Way to Welcome them? Here’s How!
An important customer has arrived in Japan. They’ve travelled a long way, so you wish to welcome them graciously. But you’re worried about how to best accomplish this.
What do you need to watch for? Instead of a conventional plan, you want to plan a trip that will please them, but what does that mean?
This customer has taken the time and effort to come all the way to Japan, and you want to take this opportunity to provide heartwarming hospitality that will show your gratitude.
What is an important customer?
An important international client. A customer who wishes to further the same goals as you.
Perhaps, someone who believes in the purpose of your company and wants to lend their support.
An important customer is a person who has spent a lot of time co-operating with your company.
Therefore, you want to constantly be furthering your partnership with them.
They are someone who you want to continue working with.
However, for a busy client on a short business trip to Japan, you don’t have that much time.
But, even working within the time constraints, you can create a welcoming atmosphere that will deepen your mutual trust.
If you can develop a bond that goes beyond words, this feeling will carry over into future business dealings.
Three Points of Warning for Welcoming International Customers
When an international customer comes to Japan, they are your guest.
Which is to say, during their days visiting Japan, you want to come up with a way to provide hospitality for them, right?
Here are some points to keep in mind so that your intentions for these special days don’t fall short.
1. Allow Them to Experience Japanese Culture In Their Own Way
Japan’s traditional culture is full of a variety and amazing things. However, even as a Japanese person, it takes a lot of special education about the etiquette and content of a tradition in order to deeply understand it.
However, if you say to your international customer, “This is Japan, so things have to be done this way, and according to tradition you need to behave this way,” they will spend a lot of time stressed out before they can enjoy themselves.
So, should you simplify your explanation for them? I would say not.
The most important thing is to create situations where an international customer can easily learn about Japanese culture.
However, introducing an overseas visitor to Japanese culture does not mean translating it into something they can easily understand.
As a Japanese person, you want to offer a glimpse into Japanese culture that does not lose any of its true spirit.
This will allow your international customer to interpret and understand it in their own way. They came all this way to Japan, so they will want to personally experience Japanese culture.
2. Consider Your Customer’s Culture
In countries outside of Japan, people live in a variety of situations and environments with different cultural influences.
You cannot lump all international customers together as non-Japanese, because within the international community there are huge differences.
As Japanese people, we can live together naturally because of a common base way of thinking.
When you don’t know much about another person, even if you have the best intentions, problems of impropriety can arise. Therefore, it’s vital to consider your customer’s culture.
For example, understanding that people from a Confucian country will naturally give respect to higher-ups in the company, or that Muslim or Jewish people’s diets are greatly influenced by their religion is important. Individual beliefs are another axis to consider.
For example, vegans, who don’t eat or use animal products, will not want to be treated to fish dishes like Ikezukuri or Funamori, and feminists or non-binary people from Western countries would not like a female companion to pour their drinks for them.
These kinds of problems may seem trivial, but they are easily avoidable if you consider your customer’s situation beforehand in order to avoid trouble.
3. Find Out Your Customer’s Familiarity With Japan
In order to provide your customers with the best experience possible, it’s important to do some research into their personal experience with Japan.
– Have they been to Japan before?
– If so, how many times?
– During what seasons have they visited Japan?
– How much do they know about Japan?
– Are they someone with an intimate knowledge of Japanese culture?
– Are they studying Japanese?
Determining the answers to these sorts of questions will help you provide the best care for your customer. International customers aren’t all the same, so it’s important to be flexible in order to accommodate customers with differing levels of understanding.
Also, your customer might have thought of their own plans, or things they want to do while in Japan.
It’s best if they can inquire beforehand, but it’s not uncommon for people to have requests after they have arrived.
It is ideal if you can provide them with a suitable time to contact you about these sorts of requests.
Plans with little flexibility or free time, even if they are packed with amazing experiences, will tire your customer out.
Making space in your schedule beforehand for the customer to take a breather is an important consideration.
How To Provide the Most Hospitable Reception For Your Customer
So, what’s the best way to provide hospitality for your customer?
If you think about it practically, the best way is to find out what your customer is interested in, and then plan a trip starting from there.
On the other hand, when it comes to things your customer won’t like or are taboo, try to subtly guide them into situations where these don’t come up.
For example, you might have a customer who knows a lot about Japan, or you might have a customer who knows nothing except samurai and ninja.
In that case, it would be fun to prepare some entertainment that involves samurai or ninja, and in that way, open their eyes to the world of Japanese martial arts.
On the other hand, for the customer who knows a lot about Japan, you can take them to a traditional Japanese ceremony.
Appreciating a traditional ceremony is difficult without knowledge of Japanese. In that case, don’t push them too hard, and explain beforehand what the ceremony is about.
In this way, you can give them a short glimpse into an experience that might have previously seemed impenetrable to them.
In terms of dining, it’s easy to become flustered when there are conditions to keep track of, like whether a customer can drink, or if there are any foods proscribed by their religion.
However, for example, for a vegetarian or vegan customer, if you don’t try to take them out for sushi or beef, but instead prepare tofu or a vegetarian meal, they will be greatly pleased.
If your customer doesn’t drink, it’s best to have some leeway, so instead of taking them to a restaurant where they’ll be surrounded by alcohol, you could plan to experience a tea or incense ceremony.
In this way, by utilizing the research done beforehand, you can provide your customer with luxurious hospitality.
There are so many amazing things about Japan to be proud of.
No matter how you put it, there is a unique beauty and magnificence here that you won’t find in any other country.
Therefore, as Japanese people, we want to continue this culture of natural hospitality.
We are Japanese. Our customers are coming to Japan.
These two facts combined mean that we must be able to provide unforgettable memories to our guests during their short stay.
This involves giving the customer a true, luxurious experience of Japanese culture, letting them enjoy themselves, and making them forget the exhaustion of their trip. Warm hospitality involves continuing the feeling of gratitude, and deepening the bond that will allow you to move forward together.