Ikea and customer service in Tokyo
Last weekend, my wife and I went furniture shopping as we have found an unfurnished apartment in Tokyo. So we went to our friendly neighborhood Ikea store in Funabashi. It was exactly like any Ikea store in Canada (I would guess around the world) so it was very familiar as soon as we walked in. The layout, with the top floor for furniture and the Marketplace first floor, was the same, as well as the restaurant (ok, cafeteria), children’s play area and checkout. The only difference was the Japanese signs and prices (in Yen naturally).
Below is a wide shot of the store:
As we intended to buy all our furniture (bed, sofa, dining room set, etc.) and most of our household items (dishes, pots, pans, glasses, etc.), we thought that Ikea might be able to help us in some way so we went to customer service to talk to them. The first two people we talked to weren’t much help and we finally met the store manager, Gordon Gustavsson. He has been in Japan for about 5 years and was in China (can’t remember if Beijing or Shanghai) before that. He showed us their operations and logistics in the back, and we chatted about both our situation situations, being ex-pats. In the end, he really didn’t give us any help – but he was very good in “mis-direction” so we didn’t feel so bad that he really said no (without saying no). An excellent example of dealing with a client – he was very good and smooth.
Speaking of customer service, I think customer service here in Japan (at least in Tokyo) is excellent. Everyone greets you with a smile and are very polite. There is no tipping here in Japan, but I think the service here is much better compared to North America, where tipping is customary. For example, the price you see on the menu in a restaurant is all you pay – no tax (included) and tips. Also, after they give you your meal, they leave the bill on your table so when you are done, you just walk up to the cashier and pay your bill. No need to ask the waiter/waitress for the bill at the end – I guess this process only works if there is no tipping. Of course, you can order more (ie. dessert) after your meal so just call them, and they’ll cheerfully take your order, take the bill, serve your dessert and leave the new bill on the table again. So efficient!