She has worked for airlines, hotels and cruise tours, covering a variety of customer service responsibilities and activities. Saori loves to travel all over the world and has visited 33 countries. (35 after next week!)
We know that the answer is often somewhere in between, but the fun of this section is that you have to pick just one!
Paper < Plastic
Personalization < Privacy
In-Store Shopping > Online Shopping
Transactional > Relational
Mac < PC
Customer Service > Customer Experience
Captain Kirk > Dr. Spock
Talk < Text
Dog < Cat
Movie Theater < In-Home Rental
What was your first job and what did you learn about customer service in it?
I worked the overnight shift at the front desk of a Hilton hotel while I was a full-time college student. It was a lot of fun and lead to 6 more years in the hotel industry.
The overnight tended to be crazy at times and having less staff at those hours required creativity to solve issues and manage the hotel. Also, I enjoyed meeting a lot of people from all over the world. With this diversity, I learned to be much more observant in responding and relating to customers and guests.
Tell us how one outside influence impacted your customer service or customer experience thinking. (For ex. book, movie, sporting event, relationship, travel)
Having grown up in Japan, my cultural background is my primary outside influence. Japanese culture holds customer service extremely high with a dedicated sense of courtesy and formality. It’s embedded in the language and dictates all public interaction. In the U.S., I felt much more relaxed, with friendlier, chatty customer service; however, the Japanese way is more efficient and professional. I value both and try to blend them in my customer experience thinking.
In your own personal experience, has customer service gotten better or worse in the past five years?
I find that it has gotten better in the past five years due to the proliferation of automated kiosks, online services and heightened consumer profiles and preferences. There are so many more options for diet types and technology needs, and companies can now track and review customer experiences for more satisfying personalized services.
Also, social networks have established customer service checks and balances with online ratings, reviews and social feedback. The companies are required to be much more conscious about how they treat customers.
> I consider it a bad customer experience when I am placed on hold for more than 3 minutes.
> In five years, the most important social media channel for customer service will be Yelp, Amazon or Uber ratings platforms.
> The best book I read in the last twelve months was The Lonely Planet Book of Everything by Nigel Holmes.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Adam Janusz. (Portrait of Saori by her husband.)
By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.