The symbol of Hakata that is changing. The development of JR Hakata City which is a top class Shopping Center of Japan Aiming to be the top in the competitive market JR Hakata City Co Ltd(Shopping Center)

JR Hakata City Co Ltd
6-11 Uchida Building 2nd Floor Chuo-gai Hakata-eki Hakata-ku Fukuoka
Website: http://www.jrhakatacity.com/

※The content of the article applies during the time of the interview. The situation may change by time. 

JR Hakata City is a big shopping mall that opened together with Kyushu bullet train in March 2011. It emphasizes greatly on CS and ES of the store which is more than 400 in number and gives intensive training to the store employee. In 2014, JR Hakata City received Silver Award in the Sixth Shopping Mall Competition and Fighting Spirit award in the 17th Store's Favorite Shopping Mall. JR Hakata City still developing continuously to be the shopping mall that is loved by employee, customers, local companies and store owners. On this occasion, we interview President Maruyama, Mr. Uesugi who is the head of Customer Satisfaction Section, and Ms. Nagahama, head of planning team. 

President Yasuharu Maruhama

Among the different projects of JR Group, Kyushu JR Hakata City is one of the symbol of the company. Please explain the positioning of JR Hakata City in the group.

In 1987, when the train in Japan was privatized and JR Kyushu Group was set up. Many worried if privatization in Honshu Island would be successful, while doubting the potential of Hokkaido, Shikoku and Kyushu. Certainly, it was a hard time. Kyushu Island received trains from Honshu Island and the station building was very old since 1963.

In March 2011, when Kyushu bullet train started to operate. A 200,000-square-meter station was built. At that time, it was the largest station in the record. Hence, it effects the development of both our company and the city itself.

Since then, JR Hakata City was more popular than expected. Many store owners wanted to rent the area. It was the main pillar of Kyushu Bullet train, cruise train and JR Kyushu.

President Yasuharu Maruhama of JR Hakata City

MS&Consulting has developed many programs to train personnel of JR Hakata City which brought about rapid improvement in the employee. Were there any difficulty during this process?

Our company aims to be the winner in the competitive market among the professional shopping mall rivals. We aim to decrease the employee who quit the company and increase the effectiveness of the employee. Thus, we recruited more than 60% of the employee. Before combining all of the shopping malls in JR Hakata City, the marleting and promotions of all of the shopping malls were done separately. Deitos and AMU were not united in the management level. Combining both shopping mall was a big step of development. We could not have achieved this without the help of MS&Consulting.

Thank you very much. JR Hakata City is not only successful about employee training, but also utilize a lot of tools from many sources to improve, resulting in a very effective management. Could you please explain more about this.

Besides the store staff, the employee of JR Hakata City include security guard, cleaning staff, event staff and staff in charge of training. These make up about 10000 employee in total. Hence, to increase the effectiveness, we hire many outside resources to take care of the business.

MS&Consulting has help us train the employee both directly and indirectly by using Mystery Shopping Research(MSR.) This has helped increase satisfaction of both the customers and employee, allowing the company to develop efficiently. We feel very thankful about this.

Please tell us the plan in the future.

Because of the support from MS & Consulting, JR Hakata City has been doing business smoothly and has been having increasing sale. We have been developing our shopping mall at its full potential and still aiming for further development. In spring next year, KITTE Hakata and JRJP office building will be completed. In 2020, the new Nanakuma train will be completed. More and more customers are expected to visit.

This development involves both the development of the city and human resource. We believe that our company alone cannot conduct the training perfectly. We need professional support such as those of MS&Consulting.

In term of employee satisfaction, we are having a future plan to create nursery for employee’s children. This is because among our 10000 employee, many have young children and babies. We want to create an environment that our employee can work at ease without any worries.

JR Hakata City does not focus on the profit only, but also considers the need of the people in the local area. We want to run the business in the way that make people on Kyushu Island happy.

The change in Hakata City

Mr. Daisuke Uesugi
Head of Customer Satisfaction Section

Is it true that in the seminar this year, not only the Store Managers but Impressing Service Leader also participated?

In our company, there will be a group that support the Store Manager in all stores and aim to make customers impressed. The group leader is called Impressing Service Leader. Every store has both Store Leader and Impressing Service Leader. Last year, these managers and leaders did not participated in the seminar together. However, in this year, they together participated in the seminar and role-play competition. These activities make them become closer. The Store Manager can communicate with the Impressing Service Leader about what they want to do for the shop more effectively.

Mr. Daisuke Uesugi
Head of Customer Satisfaction Section

There have been a great effort in making the College Book that is used in the seminar. How is the reaction of the employee?

We have prepared many courses for the staff. Some are continuous courses that are divided into many sessions. There had been several problems such as staff did not know what kind of course they can participate throughout the year, staff lost the training document or even staff did not know who to participate in the seminar with. Hence, we realized that it is important to make the whole course clear to the staff. We make the objective of each course clear.

That is why we started making College Book which has been gladly welcomed by the staff. It is said to be comprehensive and the information can be easily shared by among the staff. Other companies have been showing an interest in this project as well. Even other developers have been praising that this project is amazing.

Picture1:Training timetable of JR Hakata City in 2015

In the training program, MSR has been used to increase the customer satisfaction. Please tell us more about this.

For our company, our clients are the shop owners who rent mall space. With MSR we can understand feeling of customers of our clients who use the service in our shopping mall.

In the case of report of our clients’ store, we do not announce the score but only give the comments of the customers to the store staff. This is because the scores are usually vary. When staff first see the scores that are not so good, they will be discourage to read the comment. The MSR reports are certainly the real situation of the store, but it should not be something that judge the store. Announcing the score will only make the stores worry about the number and start comparing among themselves rather than trying to improve. We want all of the stores to focus on the comments of the customers and self-improvement.

We believe that only MS&Consulting can help us achieve such improvement.

There are more than 100 courses of training last year. This aims to improve the skill and take care of the mental health of the staff.

Is the main point of employee satisfaction lies in good working environment and motivation?

Yes. The training in the customer satisfaction section does not only aim to improve the ability of the staff to make customer impress. The customer satisfaction is certainly very important. However, the employee satisfaction is also very important as well. We want the employee to love the company and be proud to be working in the company.

We have put effort in the rest area of the staff and we have Thank you party for our staff twice a year. This correspond with our slogan which says we will be a company that is loved by employee, customers, local company and store owners.

We emphasize greatly in the employee satisfaction. We have a program called JR Hakata City loyalty which hold a Thank you party for the employee twice a year.

Ms. Yuko Nagahama Head of planning team Interview

Please tell us how the Program to increase the motivation of the employee of JR Hakata City originated

Since 2014, we realized that we have been supported by the employee for a long time and our company started to be more stable. Hence, we felt that we should repay the employees who have been planning, establishing and fighting to increase sale with us.

In the beginning when the mall was first opened. We borrowed JR Kyushu staff to help us in many aspects. However, after establishment was completed, those staff were called back to JR Kyushu. Our human resource we had were very inexperience. However, we need to ask them to operate many difficult tasks. This was very difficult for them because many of the employee did not have enough skill to operate such tasks. They had to work under a lot of pressure. Everyone had different targets and thoughts but they had to come together to rush the work under the same company’s philosophy. We felt that this had been a very difficult experience for them. When 10000 employees came together to work for JR Hakata City, if they did not have a good will to work for the company and the society, the company development, which happens together with the city development, will be very difficult.

Ms. Yuko Nagahama, Head of Planning team

In the organization that is moving dynamically, what are the important factors that contribute to the success of staff training and education?

First of all, we started off by using the HERB analysis(※) We asked the third party to help us analyze the organization. Using this service is very important. This is because our organization management seems not to have any problems. Hence, it is very difficult to see any hidden problem within the organization. With this system, we were able to see the problem more clearly and the gap in the communication also decreased.

Because we have used the professional service of MS & Consulting, we were able to understand not only the gap in the communication, but also the problem within other different problems in different department. It is very important that the management level know these problems because it makes them able to come out with the most effective strategy.

(※)In HERB analysis, questionnaire is used to analyze customer satisfaction. The leadership of manager and efficiency of staff is converted into values which make it easy to compare, analyze and understand.

Hakata station is not only visited by the people in Fukuoka but also visited by customers both from domestic and international. Hakata is one of the most important attraction in Kyushu Island.

Please tell us about the different programs or policies in your company as far as you can.

HERB analysis and employee interview made us realize that the most important key of organization development is not telling the staff what they should be like, but teach them how to be what they should be like. The boss of the employee also have to support them to attain those achievement. We need to help the employee come up with the goal. They need to have an objective and know the direction in which they want to improve themselves into. Then, we need to be there to help them achieve their target. After reaching the target, we also offer Brush Up Program for the staff. Moreover, we give advice to staff about their future career path. In order to achieve this, we need to have a strong trust from the employee.

City Dining Kuten, a dining area that has been decorated with greenery, aims to make visitors feel relax and feel the abundant nature of Kyushuu while dining.

For employee training, we did not evaluate employee by milestone, but aim to train employee to reach the education target that they should reach.

We believe that if the staff have both the business basic skills and the specialized skill of their field, our company will be even stronger. For business skill, we trust MS & Consulting to train our staff. The training is about twice a month.

In the beginning, we only give training to the newly entered staff who are still in their first and second year. However, in the end we felt that it is important to train all of the staff, including the managers and executives.

Even the experienced staff sometimes do not know what to do in unexpected situation. They realized many new things in the training and stated that they were glad that they participated. In the future, the training will not only include lecture, but the senior staff wil be trained such that they can teach their juniors naturally. We believe that this is important and we are now working towards achieving it.

In our shopping mall, we have a lot of events throughout the year to make the customers happy. (Photo: Hakata’s Winter Story: Hakata City of Light and Christmas Market.)

How do you give advice regarding career path to the customers?

In term of employee performance evaluation, we will still give some more time to the employee before telling them what we expect from them. On the other hand, we listen and value the voice of the employee. We do not only focus on daily target, but also the long term target of each and every employee. This allows the manager to understand what each of the employee thinks and can launch a more effective strategy to improve the organization and can communicate with the employee more smoothly.

It is certainly not possible to build an organization or change company culture in only one day. However, we also need to realize that the city is also developing rapidly. JR Hakata City therefore need to continuously develop to answer the need of the customers.

MS&Consulting has help analyzed the situation of our company and gave us professional advice. This brought about great improvement to our company. JR Hakata City is still relatively new. The support from MS&Consulting is highly value and has helped our business grow tremendously. We are very thankful.