Inside Rakuten Insight:
Neil Cantle, Sales Director,

“Every day is a journey and the journey itself is home.” said the well-known Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. Although he probably wasn’t talking about research it can certainly be applied to my own journey in research, which like Basho, started out in Japan.

After university, I went to live in Japan and whilst learning the language & culture I was curious in asking myself ‘the why’. I took that curiosity in people into a qualitative boutique, large agency and then client-side with Panasonic Europe. Although not a unique research journey for many, it has allowed me to feel at home in research and travel to many places in the world.

The next stage of the journey was joining Rakuten Insight.

For a researcher, joining a panel provider is a bit like lifting up the bonnet of a car and looking at the engine inside. The thing which surprised me most was how much work & investment goes in to maintaining our panels to ensure high engagement and high quality of responses. I never really considered that when I was a client urgently requesting n=300 completes!

The other thing which astonished me was our team’s experience, dedication and knowledge of the systems and processes which are required to complete surveys. It would take me years to acquire their know-how!

I was keen to join Rakuten Insight for the main reason that we own proprietary panels in Asia which are managed by local panel managers to ensure the highest quality of members. It is a quality product that provides important benefits such as speed, quality & price.

In a competitive marketplace it is important to have a distinct product and combined with the company DNA of Kaizen & Omotenashi (a phrase made famous by the successful Olympic bid meaning ‘a heartfelt caring touch’) for every client & every survey, it all makes for quite a distinct offer.

Having spent years living in Japan and working for Japanese companies, one thing I have learnt is how strong and how genuine a company ethos can be, which seems ahead of the current ‘brand purpose’ trend. The ethos also runs deep culturally.

In the West, many sales people will follow the mantra ‘the customer is King’. In contrast, in post war Japan, folk singer Haruo Minami coined the phrase ‘okyakusama wa kamisama desu’ or ‘Customers are Gods’. The original intended meaning was that if you revere your customers it will give you personal satisfaction to know you tried your best to satisfy them. However, it was misused by marketeers and evolved to mean that one should almost worship one’s customers.

Customers are gods not kings!

An example of ‘omotenashi’ for our “god-like” clients at Rakuten Insight is that every survey is reviewed and checked for language and cultural respect by local panel managers at no cost. Our panel members can complete surveys and be rewarded in Rakuten points or special offers which can be redeemed throughout the Rakuten ecosystem.

For example, Rakuten Insight leverage the Rakuten ecosystem such as marketplace, e-commerce or Viber to ensure a high number of monthly active users. The panel therefore are Rakuten customers and what better incentive can there be to ensure each respondent is motivated and content!

I have found Rakuten Insight to have a very unique working culture. The company benefits from being large enough to have great systems in place but small enough to be localized, flexible and cooperate as one global team. There is a great atmosphere of being able to reach-out and cooperate regardless of where one is based in the world.

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