The Biggest Business Takeaway from My Trip to Japan

If you follow me on Instagram or are in the Aestheticians Connect Facebook group, you know I spent a few weeks of August in Japan for my honeymoon. (We were actually celebrating our 2-year anniversary, but because of some prior commitments we were unable to take time off right after our wedding.)

The trip was fantastic, and if you take a look at some of my Instagram pics, you can see how the food, entertainment, street life, everything, was so vastly different than the States. Being immersed in the Japanese culture kept me captivated in every moment, including the trip I took to Costco where I spent a portion of the afternoon walking up and down the aisles.

I know what you’re thinking - weird thing to do on your honeymoon, but I like to get out of the tourist traps when I travel and see how people truly live their normal, everyday lives.

The one thing about the Japanese culture that stood out to me head and shoulders above all our cultural differences was how polite and helpful the Japanese people are no matter where you’re at or what you’re doing.  

From the little things like the full bow (a Japanese sign of respect) I received after paying for my bottled tea at the local convenience store to the train conductors accompanying Kyle and me to where we needed to be when we couldn't read the language (and English was not available), every moment of traveling I was impressed with the high level of customer service.  

It really got me thinking about customer service in the United States and how much room for improvement we have. No offense to 7-Eleven, but I don’t recall ever having an exemplary customer service experience there. Just me?

Now let me add the disclaimer that I don’t think that we, as a culture, are intentionally trying to provide poor service.

I believe our lack of exemplary service stems from being so busy, so wrapped up in what’s next or what just happened, and so connected to technology that we aren’t creating the physical or mental space to be present and connect with the person directly in front of us.  

Thankfully, in the spa industry, we have an incredible and unique opportunity to be present and provide exceptional customer service to our clients. But how do we do this?

I’m not talking about carrying on a conversation with our clients through the whole treatment, after all, there's a good chance your client won’t want that. I’m referring to being mindfully present with them and not letting your thoughts wander while you're providing them a service.

For example, staying present during the massage (even if you could totally do it in your sleep) is a great place to start.

My challenge to you is to truly be present with your patients for the next week. If your mind begins to wander, just concentrate on your breath. When I’m having trouble staying present, I will internally repeat the mantra “breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out” and eventually bring my mind back to the present moment.

These little details make the biggest differences, and people can tell when you’re present, intentional, and not just going through the motions. Of course, there's a lot that goes into creating an overall exemplary customer service experience for your patients, but you have to start at the most personal level first. And it all starts with being present.

Do you have any stories of exceptional customer service? Share your experience in the comments section below.  

Until next time, keep making the world a more beautiful place inside and out.