International customer service – 5 top tips

So, how do you keep clients happy when you are working across the globe?

Here are m2r’s top 5 tips on how to retain clients that span time zones, languages, culture and of course, distance.

1. Visit regularly

It is too easy to win the client and then resign yourself to emails and phone calls. You have to make the effort to keep developing the relationship. In cultures where friendship comes before business, if you do not want to invest in the time or effort to visit these companies, your relationship will be very short lived. Try to go at least once a quarter, depending on distance.

2. Take an interest in the country where the client is based

If the client thinks you are only after their money, again, no trust will be formed. You are a guest in their country and you need to make a concerted effort to understand the culture, at least some of the native language, the history and also, get a feel for the place. Don’t spend your time in the hotel or the bar, this will not lend itself to building client relationships.

3. Get them to take an interest in where you are from.

Building relationships is a two way process, so, involve your client by showing them your home town etc. They will feel that there is a bond and a trust and that you want to involve them in more than just a one dimensional relationship. I am from Wakefield and trust me, very few of my clients knew of Wakefield before I visited them! Now they now all about the place. It has really helped cement my relationship with them.

4. Get to know your clients as human beings.

This is especially prevalent in cultures where family comes first. If the client feels that you are only interested in their business, you may get one order but that will be it. Take an interest in their life. Again, if this does not interest you then maybe international business is not for you.

5. Go the extra mile

Companies want to work overseas, sometimes for the wrong reasons and this leads to cynicism towards your whole industry. Show your international clients that you are different by delivering exceptional service, maintaining close contact and taking a genuine interest in their business, themselves as individuals and their country. You need to act and appear that you are merely an overseas extension of their current supply chain, not just a person or company that is looking at just the financial reward. This will only lead to very short term gain and open the doors to your competition.

From my experience, using these five tips as a guide will put you head and shoulders above your competition and cement your business relationship with your overseas clients. Don’t forget to deliver what you say and always exceed expectations, but that goes without saying!

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