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The True Pleasure of Serving: Omotenashi

By Miguel Barbeyto - Mazda
President Mexico


Miguel Barbeyto By Miguel Barbeyto | President - Tue, 06/06/2023 - 13:00

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Talking about work is talking about serving, generally a company, our bosses, our teams and our colleagues. But the reality is that service is not work, or at least it should not be. Here’s why.

In Japan, there is the term, Omotenashi, which is focused on the obsession for serving well; not for following processes, not for agreeing with the client — the main reason is to create a state of well-being in the other person, always taking into account their tastes and needs. I want to make it clear that I am talking about people, not customers or a specific consumer profile. It is thinking about people and serving people. Who are these people? All those who are part of our life. Family, friends, bosses, acquaintances, strangers — Omotenashi is focused on creating a safe and conscious space where there will always be someone who thinks of you.

It is a difficult concept to understand because for us as Westerners, service has always been synonymous with work and therefore remuneration; if you give to me, I give to you and vice versa, but for the Japanese to give and serve is a normal state and not expecting anything in return is the key to be able to do better and better.

Today, globalization has brought us closer to everything quickly:content, technology, gadgets, fashion, accessories.  The battle to be the best today, from my point of view, must focus on service because a good product is no longer enough. Today,we all want a good experience that, If possible, goes hand in hand with a good product.

Following processes is easy and safe, but acting with empathy toward the client, showing interest in their needs and giving a little extra time and awareness to them as a person are the biggest challenges.

At the beginning of this article, I shared that for me, talking about service does not mean  talking about work.  When we invite someone to our house and we want them to feel "at home," we do everything necessary to give our guests what they most like. If they like it enough, they won’t want to leave and breakfast turns into dinner.

In Japan, Omotenashi is associated with the tea ceremony, which is so strict in its attention to detail that it can be put off as long as necessary just to ensure that the host will have the right tableware and snacks for their guests. 

We need to think obsessively about the well-being of our clients, both those we have at work and our clients in life, because right there lies the difference we can make in someone's life. Above all, it is about how we make them feel.

Industries have focused on digital processes that comply with a series of standards that always speak to the good of the companies, that represent their values ​​and that in turn help their objectives.

The reality is that, in this globalized world where everything moves fast, the only thing missing is to genuinely think about the person next to us, to live with a concept of life like Omotenashi, where we always keep the person next to us in mind. 

This not only works for industries and large companies, it works for societies:to build entire countries and populations that seek the collective good.

During my years at Mazda, I have always been clear that "passion for detail" is the key to our service. The reality is that it was not until recently, during one of my trips to Japan, that I understood this concept when walking down the street, looking for an address. I approached a person to help me find the place to which I was going. For me, asking a question of this nature is simple: "Do you know this address?" The answer will be “Yes” or “No.” This time, the person I approached, after telling me they didn't know the address, spent more than 10 minutes helping me find it. He walked with me, asked other people, and it wasn't until we found the place that he turned and went on his way.

A few days later, talking with the team from Japan, they explained to me that the true essence of Omotenashi is precisely going beyond customer expectations and the attention you can give to a person. The person who helped me find the address I needed had no commitment to me; he did it simply to show hospitality, knowing I was a foreigner and understanding that it would be much more difficult for me to find the address in a foreign country than it was for him, or someone who lived there and spoke the language.

I faithfully believe in customer service, but more than anything I believe in caring for people. Within our processes, we must include moments in which, beyond selling, we understand the client in order to go beyond their expectations and give them everything they did not know they needed. That is precisely where loyalty and long-term relationships come from: constant attention. Whether  it is at work or at home, we must understand that we are all in the service industry.

Photo by:   Miguel Barbeyto

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