The Annual All-Japan Telephone Answering Contest is held in November every year. According to the contest’s official website, “The purpose of the Telephone Answering Contest is to preserve correct, eloquent Japanese, as well as measuring the improvement in the service-level and words of each firm’s response to telephone calls.”
It is held annually by the Nihon Denwa/Denshin Yu-za Kyoukai (Japan Telephone and Telegraph User’s Association).”
The contest has been held since 1962, and at last year’s contest in Tokyo, there were 10,510 entrants.
This seems to be a really big event, with nice production values, as you can see in the below YouTube video (contest starts at 0:51). Bizarrely, the entrants are given the caller’s lines beforehand, and are allowed to plan out their responses. They are judged on first impression (15 points), basic answering ability (20 points), communication skill (20 points), sales ability (30 points), and final impression (15 points).
Last year’s winner was a receptionist from Yasukuni-jinja named Hitomi Tanino. She practiced her three-minute conversation for two hours a day over a period of four months.
By the way, on the contest site, there is also an advertisement for the Moshi Moshi Kentei, a telephone answering test with four different levels.
Here is the Telephone Answering Contest’s Official Site (in Japanese only).
It’s a complaint that my wife makes a lot… Japanese people are losing the ability to answer phones “properly”… by that I mean they are losing the formal language skills that define polite (correct) b2b communications. It kinda seems quaint (at best) or downright weird (at worst) from an English-speaking perspective, but to a form-focussed culture, it’s actually a big thing.
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