Japan is known for high-quality service and hospitality, but how can you tell at-a-glance what level of service a business provides? In 2017, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) launched the Omotenashi (“hospitality”) Standard Certification System to help customers better understand the service quality of local businesses. Recently, the system has broadened its scope to include helping certified businesses further enhance productivity and add more value for their customers and the economy.
Service as a key to Japan’s economic growth
Japan’s service industry accounts for approximately 70% of GDP and plays a key role in creating jobs and supporting local communities. However, the intangible nature of service quality makes it difficult to determine which businesses provide the highest added value. Through the Omotenashi Standard Certification System, METI aims to vitalize the service industry and increase overall productivity, sparking further economic growth.
Visualizing service quality
The purpose of the Omotenashi Standard Certification is to make service quality visible to customers.
To be registered or certified under the system, businesses are assessed based on their efforts to enhance the satisfaction of their customers, employees and surrounding communities. The first level of certification is a self-assessed registration (red), followed by three higher-level certificates based on a third-party assessment (gold, navy and purple). Registered or certified service businesses can publicly promote their service quality ranking online or at their place of business to attract interest from visitors and potential employees.
Broadening the scope of certification
Initially, the Omotenashi Standard Certification System measured a business’s efforts to enhance satisfaction across 30 categories related to service business management, including business improvement, adoption of service-related tools, human resource development and understanding of customer needs. Businesses were encouraged to continuously improve their services in these categories through PDCA cycles and other initiatives to enhance their offerings. From January 2019, 10 new categories related to services aimed at overseas visitors were added to the evaluation system. Businesses that have already earned gold or navy certification in service business management can now earn an additional “Traveler Friendly” certificate if they meet the new standards.
With these additions, METI hopes that the Omotenashi Standard Certification System will make service quality even more visible to customers across Japan.