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Essay

Customer disservice

By Samantha Loong

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"I only speak Japanese, so if you want me to help you, you'll have to tell me what you want." I wasn't prepared to hear these words. I had only been talking to the salesperson for less than two minutes, but after I asked her to repeat something, she revealed a deep dislike for me.

I had been shopping around for a new phone contract, and had been communicating to staff in Japanese with no major problems. I certainly didn't expect anyone to speak English. But the woman continued to glare at me, eyes slightly narrowed and mouth downturned. I noticed that she had even moved slightly away from her desk. Everything about her body language and facial expression indicated that she had realised she would have to change her communication style with me — and that I wasn't worth her time.

This was the first time I had experienced such hostileservice in Japan. In fact, it was the most negative customer service experience I've had in my life.

In a country known for its excellent customer service, it was a shame that she let down the team. Imagine if I had only just set foot in Japan, and she was the first person I interacted with? What a terrible first impression that would be. What if I was an elderly Japanese person who was new to smartphones and needed a clearer explanation? Would she have reacted in such a negative way?

I managed to calmly state what I was looking for. Most salespeople would ask more questions about my data use, how often I make calls, or would try to find ways to make me spend more money with them. In her case, she dutifully printed out some information, folded it and gave it to me — without an envelope. She did not bow as I politely thanked her and resisted the urge to rip the "We value smiles" badge from her chest.

In order to restore my faith in the company, I decided to go to another branch for comparison. What a difference! The man that served me explained things clearly, didn't make me feel bad about my Japanese ability and tried his best to find a plan that suited me.

In the end, it was a different phone carrier who could offer me the best plan for the best price. I'll never know why that woman was so rude to me — or if she even realised she was being rude. Perhaps she was having a bad day, but it seems pretty mean to ruin it for me, too. I was tempted to write a letter of complaint. But maybe I'll just slip a copy of this essay under their door.

カスタマー・ディスサービス

筆者は先日、携帯電話の契約を新しくしようとお店に行き、これまで経験したことのないほど最悪のサービスを受けた。ひどく気分を害され、苦情の手紙を書こうとも思ったが…。

The Japan Times ST: June 17, 2016

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート

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