When communicating with customers, omotenashi can serve as guideline. It’s the Japanese way of good hosts making guests feel valued and respected by anticipating their needs while serving them well. On a customer journey you’ll find several moments where you can apply omotenashi:
1. interest: this is driven by a need or a desire. For example, a person might need a software tool to manage projects. This step is typically out of your reach, but you can prepare for this. You need to have provide access to content that is useful for your customers. The content should be genuine information about a topic. For example, if you sell a software management tool you might provide links to related products, links to product management techniques (e.g, agile), or wikipedia links. Success stories with past customers also give you credibility.
2. information retrieval: this the first critical step. People look for information on the web – typically they query google with several keywords about their interest. Now it’s crucial to be discoverable. This is best done with a content hub that is able to integrate content from several sources and to present them to the user in an uniform fashion. The content hub itself must be available through all kind of communication channels: web, mobile app, chatbot and even assistants in smart speakers. Why smart speakers? They provide a very natural way of interacting and an excellent digital touch point for your business. But be aware of the complexities of designing a conversational interface. It looks really simple at first, but has some intrinsic complexities that you need to handle to avoid what is called the uncanny valley (we’ll elaborate this in a future blog post).
3. first contact: first impressions matter. especially online when competition is the proverbial click away. A modern fresh look of a content hub is essential and the user experience must excel on all kind of channels: desktop, mobile, messenger and smart speakers. It’s important to have the content freely available: a registration in exchange for “exclusive” content turns potential customers away. Now, if a potential customer decides to “dig deeper” provide the customer an unobtrusive chat bot on the content hub: customers have questions and want immediate answers and all kind of channels. Also, this your chance to give the potential customer a friendly nudge and make she aware of your great app that can be used to get detailed information or to actually use some of your services.
4. establishing a connection: again, it’s very important not to be too pushy. Customers like to keep the connection without obligation and don’t want to register right away. For example, we build apps for our customers that do not require a registration. Thus, the connection that is established to the business puts customers into the driver seat: they decide whether they want to receive information on a given topic or not. This requires a leap of faith from the business since it might take a while to gain the trust of customers.
5. serving: do your best you can and gain the trust of your customers.
6. wishing well: after your customer leaves, make sure that she is highly likely to return. This can be accomplished in several ways – the most powerful being a mobile app in the pocket of your customer.
Conclusion: It’s omotenashi: the Japanese art of customer service. Prepare for your customers. Try to anticipate their needs. Be humble. Serve them as good as you can. Wish them well. And of course: learn from the experience for your next customer.