Monday, October 13, 2008

Japanese banks kick ass

Certain Canadian banks like to pride themselves on providing convenient, comfortable customer service. Well, I'm here to tell you that Canadian banks could learn a thing or two from their Japanese counterparts.

I popped into a Japanese bank the other day to exchange some money. Instead of waiting at the counter while the teller went into the back to change my Canadian dollars into Japanese yen, I was directed to a comfortable couch.

"Please sit," the teller said, bowing and gesturing to a soft blue sofa in the corner.

So I sat down. Next to the couch was a large-screen TV broadcasting an interview with a 75-year-old Japanese man who climbed Mount Everest earlier this year. Who knew banking could be so relaxing and educational?

There were a few other nice touches. Like the complimentary reading glasses next to the deposit and withdrawal slips.

I left the bank armed not just with Japanese yen but with rested legs, new information and better eyesight.

On the way out, I was showered with a chorus of "thank yous" and polite bows from each of the tellers. And just in case I wasn't sure how grateful the bank was to have my business, a computer thanked me too.

The voice came from a waist-high metal pole with a speaker that had some sort of motion sensor on it. Whenever someone passed it, the sensor was triggered and a woman's computer-generated voice chirped, "Arigatou gozaimasu!" (thank you)

Now that's customer service.

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