Archive for August, 2010

August 1, 2010
Jeffrey Heilbrunn


I remember when I was a kid, my mom would “put up a pot” of coffee and invite the neighbor ladies over. There was a true spirit of equality (even though some of the women were much better off than others). At coffee, everyone was on an equal footing. Some days, mom would go over to another neighbor’s house for coffee as each neighbor reciprocated the kindness of the other. In Japan, the analogous behavior is seen in the tea service…no master, no servant; equality; simplicity; care; reciprocity; and an activity that deals with human spirit rather than materialism. The Japanese have a word for this…OMOTENASHI.. which translates roughly to “hospitality” but as we have defined it above.

For service marketers, omotenashi gives us a new take on a much studied subject. Proponents of omotenashi include many Japanese marketers including the large cosmetics firm, Shiseido. Many of the service quality elements of empathy, listening, reliability, etc are a part of the omotenashi culture…but perhaps this gives us a framework for much of the past research in this area. The essence of omotenashi, of hospitality, is to serve the spirit of the customer through the spirit of the employee. It removes the background push on product sales relying on the development of a deep relationship with the customer to eventually get to the end result of revenue growth.

Omotenashi begins with training but then relies on the employee to develop their own style to obtain a satisfying experience for the consumer. Nothing is rushed; time is spent; education is given; advice is dispensed; manners are important; feelings are important; listening and empathy are more than words. And after the individual encounter, omotenashi should be extended to the communities that are important to the firm.

I first came across the concept watching NHK World television…they do have an interesting web site. For more on this subject, Google Omotenashi and consider its use and its ability to differentiate your firm in the competitive marketplace.

Jh, August 1, 2010