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Posts from the ‘Tokyo Narita (NRT)’ Category

Tokyo Narita unveils Japan’s first smartphone app [sic]

July 13th, 2012

Kinny Cheng

Airport World Magazine reporting on “Japan’s first [smartphone] app” (which I’m pretty sure it isn’t):

“”This indispensable airport aid shows the user’s location within the terminal, and is equipped with an experimental navigation, which guides the user to his/her desired destination, which is part of our ongoing demonstration trials using indoor positioning information technology.”

All very interesting — I love new concepts to further enhance the passenger experience!

Hence, I was hoping to give it a quick whirl — however, it was nowhere to be found on the App Store (apparently, the app comes in both iOS and Android flavours).

The usually-great #PaxEx at Tokyo Narita just got a needed boost!

May 23rd, 2012

Kinny Cheng

I’m a big fan of the Japanese and its culture. On every one of my trips to this amazing country, I always wish I could stay a bit longer (because it seems there’s never enough time for everything!)

Tokyo, with its hustle-and-bustle, is an amazing city. Yet, most of its inhabitants are still able to put up a seemingly happy face and a very receptive attitude, especially when it comes to customer service. You can find this pretty much anywhere you go in Japan, although it can differ between the various cities.

But no matter how willing a person is to serve, there is still a barrier of communications, which (in Japan) can be quite frustrating even when dealing with the universally-renowned English language.

At airports in Tokyo, like Haneda and Narita, this effect is way more apparent because of the service expectations having been established by the local Japanese culture — and, not forgetting, the somewhat-tenser experience before or after a flight. While I truly appreciate a staff member’s willingness to help, the inability to establish true dialogue negates those positive efforts. A real shame, to say the very least.

A possible solution: Specialised foreign language-speaking clerks

In a story by Airport News Japan last week, around 400 customer service staff at Tokyo Narita Airport were given a special badge to indicate their multilingual capability. Aptly named as “I Can Speak a Foreign Language Badge”, it allows travellers to quickly identify airport personnel who can communicate in the language they’re proficient at.

“The badges are the work of the airport administration and the Narita International Airport Tenant Liaison Council. Until recently, some stores had made their own badges, but now they have a new, uniform design that all outlets can use. The aim is to improve the quality of customer service for the airport as a whole.”

To be honest, I would consider customer service at Narita Airport to be pretty good. With the formal addition of these badges, the “eeny meeny miny mo” game of “who can I speak to” may slowly become a thing of the past.

A sample of the foreign language badge designs used at Tokyo Narita Airport (source: Airport News Japan)

Some more details of these badges:

“There are 14 types of badges in total. Ten of them are for staff who can speak one of the following languages: Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Malay. Three others are for those who can speak one of the following combinations of two or three languages: Chinese and Korean; Chinese, Korean and Russian; Spanish, French and Swedish. There is also a blank badge to accommodate additional languages in the future.”

Prior to this, a survey was conducted showing that only 30% of front-line staff wore a badge of some kind indicating their linguistic skills.

The formal standardisation, and broader adoption, of these badges can only be a good thing for any airport, and especially so for one that’s as busy as Narita, servicing countless travellers that come to the Land of the Rising Sun from all corners of the globe. While many of us are quite aware of the friendly Japanese culture, clearly showing a willingness to help goes much further in providing a positive, and quantifiable, passenger experience.

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