Masahi is a CX/UX Strategist in the User Experience CoE Section of the Creative Design Strategy Department
I have always enjoyed new experiences – things that I can’t possibly understand until I try them firsthand – and gaining insight into why things are the way they are. I became interested in psychology when I was in high school, my curiosity for which likely influenced my decision to go to the U.S. for university even though I could not speak a word of English at the time.
When I studied abroad, I was struggling financially, and because I lived in an unsafe area, I often had to be smart to live safely and productively despite so many restrictions. I think that is where I developed my creativity. In graduate school, I studied ergonomics, which is the study of the relationship between people and things, while also working as a User Researcher in San Francisco, using ethnography and other methods to connect user insights to service value improvement. These experiences allowed me to make the most of my curiosity and creativity.
Why I Chose Rakuten
My previous company emphasized the process and spirit of Design Thinking, which made it easy to facilitate decision making based on empathy for the user and insight into their experience. It taught me much about the right beatitude to have and about the various success factors that make a work environment great. On the other hand, I felt that being an operative creative was not fulfilling enough, so I looked for my next challenge in the U.S. and Japan, where I became interested in Rakuten’s corporate philosophy.
At the time, Rakuten was experiencing remarkable growth, but the distance between customers and business was quite big; and not much user research was being conducted. So, I decided to join Rakuten with the hope that I could bring the company one step closer to realizing its corporate philosophy by drawing on my experience and humanity to bridge the gap between customers and businesses.
Past and Present Work
First of all, I felt it was important to actually interact with customers. Fortunately, with the encouragement of the company president, Mickey Mikitani, I established the UX Research Room together with my boss. By conducting interviews with users of Rakuten’s services and creating points of contact which allowed service-providing businesses to interact with their own customers, we successfully demonstrated that valuing customers’ perspectives can contribute immensely to business.
The process of embodying a customer-oriented approach has begun to take root, and although many challenges remain, I am currently working with excellent team members who have a sense of playfulness about develop strategies, verifying concepts, and implementing measures to improve the UX of campaigns, which are an important touchpoint for Rakuten. In addition to our main projects, we are also working together to improve the Rakuten brand experience through seminars for Rakuten Ichiba merchants.
I want Rakuten to be the leading global company that maintains the healthiest relationships between its customers and its businesses. I think it would be wonderful if we could have a mutually supportive relationship in which customers benefit from Rakuten’s services and Rakuten benefits from its customers, all while maintaining a moderate distance and without being too heavily reliant on each other.
Rakuten employees love their customers and want to empower them. We want to help them express those feelings as best they can. I would be happy if all employees, not just the creative staff, did their best to interact with customers with a sense of fun and generosity, since that would ripple outward and empower society at the same time.
How many projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently engaged in five or six sub-projects across three large categories at the moment.
What is the average duration of a single project?
It can range from one-time advice to continuous initiatives.
Do you participate in any club activities within Rakuten?
I don’t belong to any at the moment, but since employees have the ability to establish new clubs, I would like to create one about floors, which people are always in contact with but don’t pay much attention to.
*The affiliation and contents of the article are based on the contents at the time of the interview.
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