Concierge-style Customer Service
As competition to attract customers grows fierce among domestic retailers in Japan, some brands have begun staffing select locations with a new breed of customer-service experts to cater to the general needs of tourist shoppers, reported The Japan Times.
Uniqlo has introduced nearly 20 concierges to provide directions to the nearest stations and information on nearby restaurants at its flagship store in Tokyo’s Ginza district. Since nearly 30 percent of the Ginza store’s customers are foreign visitors, the concierges are picked from among multilingual employees. Each of them speak at least one of four foreign languages — English, French, Chinese and Korean.
Tower Records has also embraced the concierge approach at the Shinjuku store by creating a “concierge counter” dedicated to handling customers’ inquiries. According to The Japan Times, the counter was added because the ordinary store staff found it difficult to attend fully to customers’ needs on crowded store floors.
The trend in Japan isn't exclusive to retail. Pasona Group Inc., a staffing service company, has trained around 70 “eco-concierges” to answer any questions about environmentally friendly home appliances and instruct visitors on how to use a battery recharger for electric cars at showrooms and exhibition booths. In addition to providing eco-friendly tips, they also offer cooking lessons using an energy-efficient induction-heater cooking system.
Expanding customer service beyond the four walls to win luxury shoppers’ loyalty is not completely new, but we love how chic-sounding “concierges” have replaced terms like " brand evangelists" and "specialists" in mainstream retail environments. Engaging with customers, especially tourists, about subjects of interest in addition to products or services makes a lasting impression.
Wouldn't you agree that "Can I help you," or "Is there anything you are looking for" sound passé?