Yesterday I was the recipient of some surprisingly great service here in San Francisco. I couldn't get one of the new (?) parking meters to accept my credit card so I popped into a Wells Fargo Bank around the corner at Columbus & Green to get some quarters. The gentlemen at the first desk, just to the left of the door, immediately greeted me and asked how he could help. I asked if they had a change machine and rather than just directing me to a counter clerk he jumped up from his desk, took my dollar, and went over to the clerk to get the change for me. And he did this all with a smile and even thanked me for coming into the bank!
Unexpected service - a pleasant surprise. Oh, and by the way, I'm not even a Wells Fargo customer. But, you can bet that if I'm opening a new bank account in the future, or if anyone asks me where to open an account, I'll direct them to Wells Fargo.
Later I stopped in my neighborhood drycleaner to pick up a couple of items. The young lady there, a (I believe) Korean immigrant, greeted me with a friendly smile and didn't tell me I was a bit too early (I was) and went looking for my clothes. She kept me "posted" as she got them ready for me to take away and she didn't just say an empty thanks as I paid - she looked at me and made sure to smile & make me feel like a welcome and valuable customer.
If only a few more businesses here in the USA could learn and train their employees on this level of service. The places that do definitely get repeat business from happy customers.
Everyone always comments on the "great" service they get when they visit Japan. True, Japan does have good service, but take it from one who has lived in Japan for nearly 19 years, that service is not always "service with a smile" or "service from the heart" service. It is more like what I call "duty service." But, at least it's service. The places that do give the best, and "real" service are typically the smaller personally owned businesses like the little restaurant near my Tokyo office, "Milieu" - great place for casual French food, some coffee, or just a place to sit outside under the big umbrella with a glass of wine and a good cigar.
Next time you're in Japan pay attention to the service. Sure, you'll probably be impressed, but I mean pay attention to whether it's "giri" (obligatory) service or is it Service From The Heart!?