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Something to say to Japanese customers? 2015/7/22 06:38

I have little to no chance of practicing my Japanese, so I am getting really rusted. I work as a cashier in a convenience store, and I do get some Japanese customers on several occasions. There's not much for me to say to any customers, beside just the old "hi" and "thank you".

I am curious, what are the things that Japanese cashiers say to customers? How do I say phrases like "How can I help you" or "What's the problem", or things like that in Japanese? Anything to say like "Thanks for shopping" when you hand them the receipt? Is this a good idea, though? It might be weird to them to hear me speak Japanese for no good reason, right?

I'm Vietnamese and I speak Vietnamese to my Vietnamese customers with no problem, even though they might or might not know I am Vietnamese. But when it comes to Japanese, I'm not so sure. :P
by Lightning Waifu (guest)  

Re: Something to say to Japanese customers? 2015/7/22 15:55
Obvious ones would be:
- Irasshaimase. ("Welcome to our store" - upon customer entering the store.)
- Arigatou gozaimashita. ("Thank you" - upon handing them the receipt.)
These would be nice, if you know that they are Japanese.

If there are several cashiers, and customers are lining up in one queue for a cashier to become available, and if the next customer is Japanese, if you want to get that person's attention and get them to come to your cashier,
- Tsugi ni o-machi no kata, douzo. ("The next person waiting, please." meaning please come my way.)

There are other phrases like "Nani ka o-sagashi desu ka?" (Looking for something?) which might come in handy, but can you carry on the conversation from there?
by AK rate this post as useful

Re: Something to say to Japanese customers? 2015/7/22 15:55
You can say the golden word "irasshaimase" instead of "hi." It literally means "welcome," and you can say it when they come in to the store, when they approach the cashier, or even as you happen to walk past them inside your store.

Other phrases that store clerks use are;

Nani ka osagashi desuka?
(Are you looking for something?)

Dou shimashita?
(What's the problem?)

Daijoubu desuka?
(Is there a problem?)

But keep in mind that if you ask a question in Japanese, they will answer in Japanese.

Arigatou gozaimashita.
(Thank you.)

Maido arigatou gozaimasu. (for frequent customers)
(Thank you for always shopping with us.)

It might be weird to them to hear me speak Japanese for no good reason, right?

Not at all! It's very common for us Japanese to hear basic phrases when traveling or living abroad, and it's a pleasant gesture. I'm sure it's the same for any foreign tourist/resident anywhere.

You can use the following website to confirm the proper native pronunciations.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Something to say to Japanese customers? 2015/7/30 18:39

Thanks for your answers, guys! Just a few questions:
- The word "osagashi", is that a noun or a verb? It seems like a verb, but it ends with "desuka", so I am curious.
- What does the word "maido" mean? I searched and it seems to be a sort of greeting.
- Is there no direct translation for "How may/Can I help you" in Japanese? Just wondering.

Thanks. :D
by Lightning Waifu (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Something to say to Japanese customers? 2015/7/30 18:54
The phrase "o-sagashi desu ka":
The original verb is "sagasu/sagashimasu," to look for, to search.
So if you want to ask if someone is looking for something, you could say
- Nani ka sagashite imasu ka?
(using the "-te imasu" form).
However, since you will be talking to a customer, both Uco and I automatically went for the respectful expression, which turns the phrase into "o-sagashi desu ka?"

The word "maido":
It is a... greeting used by Osaka people/Osaka business people mostly. The literal meaning is "every time/each time," and is (I believe) is a very short form for the longer business greeting of "Maido o-sewa ni natte orimasu," which roughly means "Thank for your business/relationship on each occasion we've had." But this is something people just use without really meaning the literal sense.

"How may I help you/Can I help you?"
When a customer walks into a store, we say "Irasshaimase" (welcome to our store), and if the customer seems to be looking for something, we might approach and say "Nani ka o-sagashi desu ka?" bit, but it is not that a shop clerk automatically approaches a customer saying "May I help you?" and the customer saying "Oh I'm just looking, thanks" kind of exchange :)
by AK rate this post as useful

Re: Something to say to Japanese customers? 2015/8/1 03:41
As an Asian-American living in a predominately non-asian community in the US, I hate it when people play guess the nationality by trying to speak to me in what they assume is my home language. If I spoke to you first in Japanese it would be OK to reply in Japanese, but don't make assumptions based on my appearance.
by guest (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Something to say to Japanese customers? 2015/8/7 14:11
@guest Asian American. LOL. I am not going to guess the customers' nationality. I'll be too busy getting them out the door for that game. I only use Japanese when I know for sure the customers are Japanese or if I hear them talk to each other in Japanese. I am also tired of the young ones nowadays getting sensitive and offended over every tiny thing. I am pure Vietnamese myself, and I couldn't care less if someone thinks I am Chinese and tries to speak Chinese with me. I'll just smile and tell them I'm not. Nothing to make a fuss about.

@AK Thanks for your response. I still feel nervous when using Japanese, though. Today, I had a group of seemingly tourists in the store. It was kinda busy and somewhat chaotic, since I had a customer who bought a defective bottle of bleach. It leaked out and I had to take time to clean up and let him get his stuff again. So I kept those tourists waiting a little. They had separated orders. I got the first one done, then kept her waiting a bit because the previous guy's stuff were wet. The second one came up, and it got worse here when the machine decided to reset when I was putting the money in. So I kept them waiting again. One of them asked another something like "Nani o shiteimasuka?" or whatever, but I guessed that they were wondering what was going on.

The same girl then asked me in slow English "What's wrong?", to which I replied "Chotto matte kudasai". They just looked at each other and slightly shook their heads. Last one came up, didn't know how to use the card reader, had to ask me and the next customer for help. When all was done, I just told her thanks in Japanese again. Any reason why they seemed quite reluctant? Perhaps there was something else better I could have said? At no point did I say "irasshaimase", because I was kinda chicken. XD

Anything interesting that I can use to talk? Maybe ask them if they are tourists, or what part of Japan/city they came from. By the way, if I was to directly address a customer, would I use kimi or anata? I would probably use kimi if they are younger than me.
by Lightning Waifu (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Something to say to Japanese customers? 2015/8/7 19:35
It would be extremely rude to address a customer as kimi; anata would be almost as bad. it should always be okyakusama. Chotto matte kudasai is also rather brusque, shoushou omachi kudasaimase would have been better.
by guest (guest) rate this post as useful

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