Omotenashi is a Japanese term that refers to a specific approach to hospitality and customer service. It is often translated as “selfless hospitality” or “wholehearted service” and embodies the idea of anticipating and fulfilling the needs and desires of customers before they even express them.
Deeply rooted in Japanese culture, omotenashi is considered a fundamental value in many industries, including hospitality, tourism, and retail. It is often characterised by a high level of attention to detail, a focus on customer comfort and satisfaction, and a willingness to go above and beyond to exceed expectations.
However, omotenashi can be incorporated into many aspects of a business. For loyalty program operators, there are three core principles to consider that can increase member satisfaction and achieve deeper member engagement with their strategies.
ANTICIPATE, PERSONALISE & BE GRATEFUL
Some examples of omotenashi in practice might include:
- Offering a warm welcome and personalised greeting to customers.
- Providing unexpected extras or surprises such as gifts to enhance the customer experience. Gifts that reflect that someone is thinking of you or souvenirs to take home.
- Anticipating and fulfilling customer needs, such as offering wet hand-towels before a meal, offering a blanket on a chilly day or providing an umbrella in case of rain.
- Ensuring a clean and comfortable environment, such as providing slippers to wear inside or refreshing the restroom regularly.
- Demonstrating a genuine and attentive attitude towards customers, such as listening carefully to their questions and concerns, and responding with empathy and understanding.
- Carefully and beautifully wrapping purchased items and walking customers and guests to the door as they leave carrying their shopping or belongings.
What does omotenashi look like in a loyalty program?
Think and anticipate customer needs
Pay attention to the little things they care about. Understand the needs and desires of your program members. Provide service above and beyond expectations.
This could mean proactively taking actions to help members when shopping. Or providing rewards and offers based on past behavior or purchase history. It involves going out of your way for members to understand what they value.
Take care of each customers individually
Know individual customer preferences. Personalise actions, the offers you present and service.
This means using customer data to help staff tailor their approach to members, sending relevant communications to members, providing services they may need, presenting rewards and offers to individual preferences and behaviors.
Be genuinely grateful
Appreciate the fact that a customer chose you and came to do business with you. While program rewards and benefits serve as incentives, also consider offering gifts and services to members without expectation. Genuine appreciation of customers results in a great customer experience. Ensure staff are trained to express gratitude.
Omotenashi’s meticulous attention to detail and exceptional service offer a valuable lesson to the loyalty industry. Adopting a culture of omotenashi can drive enduring, positive customer relationships.