Customer is God in Japan!?

In English, there are many words meaning "customer."  Depending on the place and situation, customer can be called "caller", "guest", " client", "passenger", "visitor", "customer", "audience" and so on. 


In Japanese, on the other hand, they are all called "Kyaku客" or "O-kyaku-san (polite expression)" or "O-kyaku-sama (the most polite.)"   So "Kyaku" is very convenient word for Japanese however when we need to translate this Kyaku,  it's not so easy.


For example, a famous saying. "Okyaku-sama wa Kami-sama desu(お客様は神様です)" is usually translated as "Customer is like God."   


However, a Japanese Singer, Haruo Minami who first said this saying had a different intention.   For him, "Kyaku" was not a customer but an audience.   What he really meant was "he always sing songs with deep respect as if audience were like God."   


Interestingly after this saying became so famous in Japan,  this saying came to mean "Customer is God."   And this became an important attitude for many Japanese stores and companies.


Indeed, I often hear "People in Japan are so polite" from local people who visited Japan.  I do agree with them since Japanese always bow and smile.  Here in Hawaii, workers at stores are very friendly but they are sometimes too talkative.  They talk to the customers even though they sometimes have a long line.  Also they sometimes don't show appreciation to the customers.  


However in Japan, they are trained not to talk to the customers but to concentrate on the customer service with respect.  Just before starting checkout at the store, they bow and after completion of the register, they deeply bow with words of appreciation, "Arigato gozaimashita."  They never talk to the customer like here.


I think the reason why Japanese customer service is so good, is hidden in this saying "Customer is God!" 

Yes, because customer is like God who is the most supreme, they can naturally serve them the best.  It is not to President nor King nor Queen, but again it's to God!

But I'm sure some people might not like customer service in Japan but they might prefer to customer service here.  

I think this is up to your answer toward this question....Do you want to be treated as a God? or do you want to be treated as a friend?

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Comments: 1
  • #1

    Timothy Takemoto (timtak) (Tuesday, 21 January 2020 05:27)

    > Do you want to be treated as a God? or do you want to be treated as a friend?

    Or do you want to be treated like a friend who is a God? Many Christians feel that they have a friend in Jesus whereas I have not heard of Japanese feeling that their Gods are friends.

    Conversely, Takeo Doi figures that Japanese customers want to be treated like children, and there may be an extent to which children and Gods are seen as being similar in Japan, but not, as far as I am aware, in Europe or the US. And customers likewise in the US and Europe, do not as far as I am aware, want to be treated like children.

    But then again, perceptions of children (as well as Gods and customers) vary.