If you’ve had the opportunity to visit Japan, there’s no doubt you’ve enjoyed unrivalled hospitality from the moment you disembark from your airplane.  You’ve likely returned home sharing your experiences of a beautifully hand-wrapped apple, Instagram-worthy toilets or a taxi door that opened automatically.  

The Japanese offer a customer experience this is unrivalled in the world – and downright luxurious for most of us.  They have a unique Japanese word that does not quite translate in most languages. This word, this unique culture of hospitality and service, is omotenashi. 
It includes the distinctive belief that excellent customer service should be delivered without expecting any reward or recognition in return.

The attention to detail that goes into each customer experience may seem excessive to some.  However, in Japan, this unique brand of hospitality stems from caring for each customer the same way you would care for someone who is most precious to you. Typical customer service interactions many of us have experienced around the world can be pleasant – and may even reach certain levels of omotenashi – but there is one thing that sets this culture of service apart from a normal customer service interaction: anticipation.  Anticipating others’ needs before they ask, removing friction from all customer touch points, is the standard in Japanese omotenashi.

These experiences never cease to amaze even the most frequent visitors to Japan.  When staying in Japan, the carpet in the hotel hallways often creates static electricity.  To combat this, an anti-static patch is placed next to the elevator keypad to eliminate the shock.  As you exit the hotel, the taxi driver pulls up wearing his white gloves and the doors open automatically whilst a voice translator helps you communicate.  Did we mention the attention to detail?

As you board your flight to depart, reminiscing about the amazing interactions you had in Japan, you’ll notice the crew on the runaway politely bowing as the plane pulls back, giving you your last glimpse of exceptional service and hospitality before returning to the ‘real world.’  

So how does NNR USA leverage this spirit of omotenashi whilst also embracing the digital future?  We are whole-heartedly bringing Silicon Valley technology and Tokyo-style service to the logistics industry.  We believe that technological advancements are rapidly evolving in a way that will allow for automation of many redundant, simple tasks whilst also providing greater visibility of the entire supply chain.  Tasks that once required human intervention (tracking shipments, typing in status events, calling vendors, etc.) will be handled by AI, machine-learning, IoT and robotic-process automation.  

NNR is investing in this technology not to reduce costs or provide a fancy web portal.  These technologies will allow us to cost-effectively deliver a one-two punch of high-tech solutions and enhanced customer experience by freeing up our valuable team members to anticipate client needs, solve problems and deliver omotenashi. 

How do we train our US team on this unique concept?  The most effective way: we import it!  We openly welcome Japanese expats from our parent company, NNR Japan, to our offices large and small.  From Los Angeles to New York and everywhere in between, Americans and Japanese work hand in hand not only in senior management positions but in account management, client services and sales in order to transfer this spirit through on-the-job training and daily interaction.  

At NNR Global Logistics USA, we are investing in the technology of tomorrow whilste doubling down on the ancient Japanese spirit that guides our culture of service and hospitality: omotenashi. 

Jeff McDonald, EVP & Austin Rabah, Marketing Co-ordinator, NNR Global Logistics USA