Libmonster ID: JP-1284
Author(s) of the publication: I. SAVKINA
Educational Institution \ Organization: Mie University (Japan)

The reader has probably heard and read in the domestic press rave reviews of travelers about the extraordinary politeness of service workers in Japan. What the tourist encounters-shops, restaurants, hotels-is always admired: they will not be rude to you or even show that they are dissatisfied; they will apologize to you, even if you are wrong; you will be greeted with the same "welcome" and spend a friendly "come again". There are no" bored saleswomen " here. And all this is not because you are an overseas guest and are particularly favored. The buyer is God, regardless of nationality or citizenship.

The service sector in Japan, as in any other country, has its advantages and disadvantages. This also applies to the phenomenon of "Japanese politeness". Using the example of the work of one of the supermarkets, I would like to tell you about the components of the service culture in Japan, its priorities, and what training employees undergo in order to eventually become "extremely polite".

What for a foreign tourist is "exotic" with smiles and deep bows, for a Japanese - everyday life, which is accompanied by every trip to the store. Therefore, unlike the delight of travelers, the opinions of the Japanese themselves regarding the service are ambiguous and range from the assessment of "too intrusive" to "not polite enough". "How nice it is in Germany! - says a Japanese friend of mine. - Everything is so unobtrusive, and here they do not allow you to make a purchase in peace." "Politeness in Japan is too formal, there is not enough humanity," says another Japanese friend who makes tourist trips to Europe every year.

Be that as it may, good manners and consideration on the part of service workers are given special importance here. In the service quality rating, professionalism, for example, is far inferior to politeness, benevolence, and the ability to get along with people. Often in a supermarket you can see a saleswoman who can not pack a purchase well, does not know where a particular product is displayed, and whether it is in the assortment, is confused in the price and can not quickly make a calculation at the checkout. But you will never encounter outright rudeness here. In turn, in regular customer opinion surveys, dissatisfaction with the professional qualities of employees does not even slip. More than 60% of consumers are annoyed by the form of dealing with the customer, that is, the lack of politeness. Be-

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Therefore, courtesy is an important part of the service culture in Japan, as well as the culture of relationships in society as a whole.

How such an imbalance in the direction of "good manners" and to the detriment of professionalism turns out can be judged by a small episode in the store, which the author once had to witness. A couple of young spouses brought back a half-eaten sandwich with a request to return the money. And not because it turned out to be inedible. The fact is that in a box with a sandwich it is customary to put plastic "green grass"for beauty. The parents gave this sandwich to the child, apparently, right in the box. He tried to eat "weed" and scratched the sky. The customers 'indignation boiled down to" why didn't they write a warning on the label?!" The "culprits" accepted the remains of the sandwich, apologized for a long time, and returned the money. The incident was over. No other actions were taken either by customers or by the store. Even now they put plastic leaves in boxes "without warning on the label".

The rather low level of professional training of ordinary employees is simply explained. Basically, about 70% of employees of large supermarkets are employees with non-permanent forms of employment, that is, temporary workers, most of whom are housewives and part-time students. As a rule, the full course of in-house training (industrial and non-industrial) does not apply to such categories of employees. In addition, when applying for a job, the presence of work experience in the service sector does not matter. Only the general outlook, knowledge of polite vocabulary, and ability to work in a team are taken into account.

Thus, the backbone is made up of employees who have not been specially trained anywhere before entering the job and already after being hired learn the secrets of skill right in the process of work. In this case, a lot depends on those who started working earlier, on their ability to transfer the necessary knowledge and skills to the newcomer. And, of course, work experience is very important: the longer you work, the more your accumulated professional knowledge increases. But, unfortunately, the very form of "temporary employment" (which implies the absence of social guarantees), as well as the content of work (monotonous work, including weekends and holidays, with no prospects for career growth) determine a high degree of staff turnover. It is rare for this category of employees to work for more than three years in one place.

At the same time, the high degree of computerization and automation of work, the presence of a large number of instructions, as well as guidance from well-trained managers (the category of employees covered by permanent employment) to some extent compensate for the lack of professional skills of temporary workers. But since it is this category of employees who come into direct contact with customers on a daily basis, training in politeness up to automatism comes to the fore of their professional training. It is believed that this supports the image of the company, whose main motto is "buyer first", and helps to attract the largest number of consumers.

The supermarket discussed below is a typical representative of a whole network of cheap stores, such as Daiei, Jasko and others. Politeness training begins here by watching a training video and passing a mandatory entrance exam, where knowledge of polite vocabulary is tested.

Further, behind the "no trespassing" door separating the office space from the sales floor, signs constantly remind you of the necessary words and behavior in the corridors, at the exit to the sales hall and in the toilets for employees: "the main thing is a smile", "don't forget to say "welcome", "five basic phrases that can be used to describe your business and personal life. you should always remember...", etc.

On the chest of each employee is pinned a sign on which, in addition to the photo and surname, the motto is necessarily written - a kind of commitment about how he personally intends to serve customers.

In addition, the usual prak-

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tika is the daily five-minute morning "industrial courtesy gymnastics" before the store opens. On the internal radio in the utility rooms, key phrases sound at short intervals, and each employee at his workplace must pronounce these phrases aloud. The radio does not stop throughout the working day, repeatedly reminding you what everyone should do or respond to the customer in this or that ordinary situation.

Periodic customer surveys help the company adjust the "quality of friendly service" and, if necessary, use "intensive training" methods. For this purpose, "courtesy campaigns"are held once a year or every two years. After the explanatory meeting, employees are given little books in which the "seller-buyer" situations are played out with a set of standard questions and answers. Then everyone should turn to colleagues from other departments (at least five) and pass them a kind of exam on the ability to answer ready-made phrases to the questions: "where is your bread here?", " what, are the cookies already out?", etc. The department manager checks the skills last, and after about a month of books with the seals of all the "examiners" returned to the manual. All these events are held during working hours, and no one has a desire to "evade" passing the exam.

Of no small importance is the personal example of the store's director or deputy director, who regularly walks around the sales floor, repeatedly repeating "welcome", "thank you for buying", "come again".

Thus, polite treatment is practiced almost automatically, to the level of an unconscious reaction in response to a question or request. But despite all the positive results of such training, its downside is becoming increasingly clear - the so-called formalization of politeness in large enterprises of the service industry. In the cities, small family shops were almost replaced by huge supermarkets. And the buyer, who every day comes across the" quick-dissolving " smile of the seller, with formal, pre-prepared, unified phrases, has a nostalgic reaction to the family, warm atmosphere of a small store. Here, the owner knows almost all the residents in the area, the buyer is a good friend of his, and the politeness is really informal. This is exactly what my friend had in mind (mentioned at the beginning of the article), complaining about the lack of" humanity " in the Japanese service.

Although every major company periodically conducts public opinion surveys, it remains a challenge to find out what the real reasons for "dissatisfaction with politeness" are for most customers. The questionnaire questions that the author has seen are mostly made up superficially and do not allow us to reveal the true state of affairs.

It should be recognized that the process of formalizing politeness is inevitable. An individual approach to each buyer, a sincere desire to help with the choice of purchase is largely related to the human qualities of the seller himself and suggests, to a certain extent, "going beyond the scope of official duties". In the conditions of Japan, informal relations and communication are quite difficult to implement. This is due to the social structure and traditions of relationships in society. Belonging of a Japanese person to a group, limiting the concepts of "own" and "alien" to the group implies subordination of individual interests to group interests. In these circumstances, it is preferable to act "like everyone else", within the framework of "prescribed", rather than express your individuality. Informal relationships are allowed within the team; outside of it, "relationships with the outside world" are determined by the company's policy, in this case, the store. That is why, for example, despite all the lexical variety of forms of expressing politeness, the words used by store employees are quite unified. And that is why the seller, faced with a non-ordinary situation, does not dare to take responsibility in solving the problem, but prefers to seek help from a manager, a person above. Everyone's words and actions are the "face of the company", and they require consistency of actions.

Islands of a different culture in Japan seem to be Brazilian shops, concentrated in the places where workers from Brazil live (most of them are descendants of second - or third-generation Japanese people who emigrated to Brazil in the 50s, and now they are the most numerous representatives of the" army " of cheap foreign labor in Japan). It has its own rules, many of which would have shocked a real Japanese person. Here is a fairly vivid example of an" informal " attitude to the buyer. One customer was not satisfied with the sausage cut into slices: either the price was too high, or the pieces were not thin enough. The saleswoman-the owner of the store, up to a certain point patiently cut the sausage. Then, unable to resist, she threw another piece on the counter and said: "Ciao!" The customer had no choice but to leave the store without buying. Such a "scene" in a Japanese store is hard to imagine.

Service is something that you quickly get used to, and as you get used to it, you start to notice shortcomings. But every time you think about the" imperfections "of Japanese service, you have to admit that politeness, even if formal, is much preferable to outright rudeness, in which you"put your heart".


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