Spreading the Unique Charm of JINS to Customers Worldwide Through Customer Service While Having Fun

CULTURE2022.02.16

  • #Act proactively and with accountability.
  • #Inspiring
  • #Progressive
  • #Store Creators
  • #Understand customers’ feelings and exceed their expectations.

We introduce a global staff member working at JINS in Japan. Christelle, from France, joined JINS in 2016 and works at JINS Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku. We interviewed her about what brought her to work at JINS, the difficulties she has faced hitherto, and what she values in her daily store operations.

My view has been broadened through interacting
with customers and staff members from various countries

Christelle
Creator, JINS Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku
JINS JP (Japan Division)

I studied abroad in Japan twice for one year each during my university years. After that, I returned to France, but embracing the wish of getting a job doing something related to customer service in Japan after graduating from university. So, I started to search for a job, focusing on Japanese companies. One day, I found out that JINS is a famous eyeglass company in Japan and has a large variety of international customers, so I began to think that if I joined JINS, I could leverage my language skills of French and English while brushing up my Japanese skills as well.
Although I've experienced living in Japan, I had some worries because it's a totally different situation than studying abroad and working. In particular, I had concerns regarding communication in a working environment, like “Can I get along with store staff members?” or “Can I provide proper customer service in Japanese?”

Once I started working, however, despite communicating with customers taking me a bit of time to get used to, I can say that I could relatively communicate with the store creators at the same store smoothly with the support from the surrounding people. Especially the first store I worked at, there was a senior from overseas, so the senior taught me how to use correct honorifics, cultural differences, and many other things that helped me a lot.

Now, I’ve gotten used to my work and have many Japanese creator friends. On my day off, we sometimes go to Disneyland or travel together. In France, I was told that Japanese companies are quite strict or that making Japanese friends is difficult, but all of these things never happened to me, and I love to go to work every day. Since I joined JINS, I can work with people from many countries or regions, such as Spanish, Thai, Chinese, Taiwanese, and, of course, Japanese. Along with it, I feel my world has been broadened widely.

Once had difficulties due to the customer responses
and cultural differences

At the beginning of working at JINS, some heartbreaking experiences occurred because some customers had thrown heartless words at me. Despite the fact that I was getting used to using Japanese and was able to have confidence in my customer service, in actuality, I was choked up by being told “Do you understand Japanese?” or “I need a Japanese store staff member, please.” Nowadays, I try to change my mind and think that such customers are in the minority and that they are a bit special when I encounter such situations.
Moreover, adjusting to the cultural differences between Japan and France was a little hard for me at first.
For example, in France, there are no senior and junior staff systems, so I was slightly confused by the Japanese custom of calling each other by their last names, not their first names, and using honorifics for seniors, even when working at the same store.

Besides that, in France, we clearly say to customers that we can't do something that we can't do. Whereas, here in Japan, people tend to avoid saying something straightforwardly and devise indirect ways of saying something ambiguously, so I need to adjust to that norm as well.
I also sometimes feel the cultural differences through the way customers select a pair of eyeglasses. Customers from Europe and China focus on their preferences and buy the glasses that they think suit them very well. That's why many of the questions I’ve received from those customers are, “Does this look good on me?” Meanwhile, I've been asked by many Japanese customers, “What are the best-selling glasses?” I have the impression that Japanese customers are more concerned about trends and other people's tendencies than their own preferences, so I always try to keep abreast of trends and have a wide knowledge of hot-selling products.

Enjoy approaching international customers positively,
even in Japanese is okay

Recently, I've been giving lectures on the simple English needed to explain lenses or measurement to Japanese creators. Without a doubt, I'm willing to provide support whenever a complicated English explanation is needed, but I would like Japanese creators to approach international customers positively. Customer service at JINS is quite impressive, so I hope international customers feel truly in touch with the beauty and depth of its remarkable service. An American influencer visited our store before when I took a day off, and what happened was that the influencer was so satisfied with Japanese customer service and even posted about it via the social network.
Plus, JINS Harajuku attracts so many international customers; therefore, there are sometimes more international customers than our store creators. Therefore, as a matter of fact, international customers had to wait occasionally because we tried to provide our service for them by the store creators from overseas only.

Under the current state of COVID-19, customers from overseas are rare, but it's a great opportunity to learn English, doesn't it? When the COVID-19 situation settles down and international customers come back like in the pre-COVID world, I hope all the store creators will be able to welcome them with our JINS-style customer service.
Having that said, I recommend that the first approach to them should use Japanese. This is because even customers who seem to be customers from overseas at first glance may be able to speak Japanese. If those customers don't speak Japanese and you don't have the confidence to speak English, it's okay to approach them with your body language and big smile, so I hope all store creators approach them positively. There's no need to be fluent in English at all; just give it a try, have some fun, and enjoy communicating with international customers. International customers will be happy for sure, just by showing that you are willing to communicate with them.

Through customer service that I enjoy,
I want my customers to enjoy themselves

Enjoy working from the bottom of my heart, that is what I value in my work. At times, I feel tired or a little overwhelmed, but I think that I should always be cheerful and upbeat in front of our customers. But I'm not good at pretending, haha. No matter what the situation is, I always try to work while enjoying it, not forcing myself to make a smile or pretending to enjoy it.
I love to have conversations, so I try to keep the conversation between customers lively; for example, when I was asked, “Are you French?” I answered, “Have you ever been to France?” and I talked to customers who visited the store as a couple, saying, “Are you guys going somewhere today?” and if they talked back to me like, “Yeah, we are going to a concert for XX,” I would reply, “Woo, I like songs by XX too!”

One of my future goals is to spread the unique charm of JINS worldwide. For Japanese and international customers, I want them to think, "I want to come back to this place." For that, I will always be considerate of customers and passionately introduce our fascinating products throughout the entire store, and with the efforts of those, the unique JINS brand will be spread throughout the world - that would be fantastic.
Taking a store sub-director test is my other goal. Becoming a store sub-director makes it possible for me to have a greater impact on the store. Hence, I'd love to take on that challenge and fulfill the goal by all means.

< Comments from Uemoto, Area Director of Area 21 >

When it comes to Christelle, a single word: friendly!
I see her as a creator who pretty much likes to communicate with people.
It's quite impressive to me to see her enjoying conversations with customers rather than providing customer service.
She is not only good at providing customer service, but she also takes care of the store as a whole, instructs her juniors, and asks her supervisor for some feedback regarding her store operations. It might seem very simple, yet she naturally works like that. Such an attitude is worth respecting and has had a positive impact on the people around her.

She has gained the huge trust of her co-creators through her attentive personality, giving English lectures called the “Christel Interview,” and giving advice on other creators' worries, and I really count on her and can trust her with her work.
By interacting with her, I hope the number of creators who can both enjoy “working” and “spending time with customers” down the road will increase.

※The contents of this article are the information on services and initiatives provided in Japan.

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