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The Nuances of Building Great Customer Relationships
With Japanese Clients

Published by Anne  |  Thursday, 19 April, 2012
Today, even if you are not in Rome, you sometimes still need to do as the Romans do.

Thanks to globalization, many of us have clients and partners all over the world. Ignoring the culture differences can be a stumbling block to your business growth. On the contrary, knowing several important national features of business communications will move you closer to building great customer relationships wherever your client comes from.

As we have customers using Wrike project management software all over the world too, we couldn’t miss an opportunity to get first-hand experience in successful interactions with clients of different nationalities.

Our first guest to share her helpful tips in this area is Yuko Ono from Japan, the president of Tsukuruhito Ltd., which specializes in developing online services based on brand strategy. If you have Japanese clients or partners, keep a note and share your observations in comments!
 

Investing in trustworthy relationships
takes time and tact


In Japan, it takes some time and effort to win people’s confidence and see them share their thoughts and feelings with you. This is a very important stage of building business relationships, so let your clients take their time and try to be as patient and attentive to them as you can. Remember that it’s not common for the Japanese to express their thoughts directly, as people often do in the U.S.

“Try to use euphemisms and polite forms,  to not make an impression of an aggressive person,” Yuko Ono notes.
 

Make sure the project goals meet the clients’ expectations

Communication in the Japanese culture is not simply an exchange of opinions. It’s an important ritual to establish relationships.

“Pay enough attention to discuss clients’ needs and expectations in the very beginning and make sure there are no misunderstandings,” Yuko Ono advises.

This way, you’ll show your respect to the clients’ thoughts, which will help you build trust between each other. Besides that, communication in Japan often implies the ability to understand the underlying message that is not said directly. This way, if the goals weren’t set up in a clear way, things might get even blurrier as the project moves on, and it will end up in a waste of time and a customer’s dissatisfaction. The best way to prevent it is to talk things through.
 

Lend an attentive ear to the feedback throughout the work

“When the project is already in process, it doesn’t mean that now we can drift apart from our clients and then simply show them results of the work,” Yuko Ono says.

According to her, attentiveness to the feedback is a key to success in Japan. To achieve this sensitivity, she always introduces the clients to everyone who works on their project and asks their opinion on different stages before the project is completed.

Another important thing is to compare the interim results with the essentials that were established in the beginning to make sure clients are satisfied with where things are moving.

“Here Wrike helps us a lot, as it is very easy to selectively grant the clients access to the pieces of data they are interested in,” Yuko Ono shares.


What are your thoughts here? Would these pieces of advice work for your country, too?

“When several people work on several projects simultaneously, it’s quite a challenge to establish an easy workflow within a team. What I like most about Wrike is that it makes absolutely transparent all the current achievements, responsibilities and schedules of each team member. Now that we always have the most important pieces of data at our fingertips, our efficiency has increased dramatically!”

Yuko Ono, the president of Tsukuruhito Ltd.

Tsukuruhito Ltd. is a Japanese company specializing in developing brand strategies through the web in a number of areas from educational systems to e-commerce services.


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