By Charlene Monahan, Director, Customer Care, MyUS.com
Serving a global customer base offers a rich and rewarding experience by exposing your company to many different ways of doing business and enabling interaction with a range of people. Companies that sell physical products internationally can come across a unique set of challenges and considerations that those just offering a service don’t face. However, there are a few sure-fire ways to enhance exemplary international customer service, as well as overcome any challenges along the way.
First, knowing and getting to know your customers should be a top priority. This ensures every aspect of your business will be delivered effectively. Second, it’s important to understanding the processes which will affect your customers, to enable you to communicate them effectively. For example, a number of factors can affect the complete shipping process and how long it takes for packages to arrive at a customer’s door. Weather, customs inspections, military activity and political conditions are just some of the factors that can play a role in delivery time. Having a great relationship with your shipping provider will also enable you to have a faster turnaround on any customer queries. Whether you’re shipping to another country or continent, your shipping provider will be the first one you contact when a customer has an issue.
Cultural and language differences can create challenges when serving international customers, but developing guidelines and procedures will help you overcome them. A procedure to direct calls to an appropriately trained team member can minimise frustration, as can installing translation aids such as online translators and quick access references. Offering additional customer service contact methods such as online messaging, email or other written based options also help to overcome barriers. Lastly, monitoring the volume of language barrier issues that arise on an ongoing basis will help you to evaluate your needs, how to train your customer service team and what skills to advertise for in new hires.
Differences in time zones can create a challenge when customers need to contact you, and play a role in time-sensitive promotions like flash sales and coupon expirations, so it’s key to be aware of these differences and communicate them when necessary.
The intricacies of import and export regulations can create challenges for anyone shipping to a global customer base. Customs regulations can vary from agency to agency, have many nuances and the details can quickly change, so it’s vital to be aware of restrictions and any additional fees certain items may incur. To ensure you stay on top of trade regulations, it’s key to have a specialist compliance employee or team dedicated to ensuring each export complies with applicable customs and export regulations. Establishing partnerships with export agencies and international couriers will also give you access to the latest updates and regulatory changes. Furthermore, partnering with experts in international marketing and shipping will play a huge role in both driving and meeting demand. As a startup, it’s important to develop these partnerships early on.
Globalisation has impacted the decisions a company needs to make and the target audience it needs to consider. It is important that a company take these elements into account in order to maximize success and remain competitive.