Bow Power: Retail Customer Service KPI of the Year

Retail customer service is measurable, most notably in Japan’s retail sector. The country has been known for its service culture for many years.

Its retail sales staff stand out when compared to their counterparts in other countries. Yes, department stores are dying off in Japan too and retailers are cutting costs, but retail service continues to be superior. As retailer managers we still look to Japan with great respect for their service culture. How can they afford to hire so many retail service personnel?

As consumers we simply enjoy the Japanese retail customer service process: the initial greeting and sales support, through to checkout and detailed wrapping services. Of course the personal escort to the exit tops off the refined ritual that is Japanese retail shopping.

Retail Customer Service at its Best

After a new experience with a week of retail store checks in Japan, benchmarking and location assessments for a European brand, we added a new column to our retail service scorecard. A category beyond our European five star ‘best practice’: We call it the six star ‘Japanese standard’ and it expresses the Japanes retail customer service.

We also decided to create a new retail customer service KPI: The ‘Bow Power’. Japanese retail personnel bows to customers – they bow when you enter the store, they bow at the cash desk, they bow when you exit and they are still bowing when the customer has long left the store. Cultural guidance bloggers like Aya Francisco advise foreigners on the ‘right” way to bow

A Saikeirei - Best retail customer service

Reatil Customer Service KPI, the bow depth (Visual: Aya Francisco)

For Western eyes it is a unique and in the beginning, uncomfortable experience. But the bow is embedded in the Japanese culture and the bow’s depth indicates the level of respect and appreciation for the customer’s visit.

Being back in Europe we needed some time to adjust to our service levels and we are still on the search for the equivalent service. A European equivalent KPI for retail customer service probably would be ‘Nodding Factor’ at best.

This is a variation of an earlier post published in retail-intrapreneur.


About the Author:

Guido is a collector of brand and retail KPIs, benchmarks & best practices. His collection of ‘commonly used’ KPIs exceeded 100 a long time ago and he strongly believes there are more KPIs to discover. So share your KPI thoughts, ask for an opinion and rest assured he will help you, with tips & feedback. You reach him best by email or see more from him here.

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