As a business owner, it’s essential to maintain a positive relationship with your customers, contractors,Foreign Clients, and contacts. However, a warm business relationship can be complicated when dealing with international clients whose cultures and languages differ from yours. It would help if you also dealt with different exchange rates, laws, and taxes. An honest mistake can cause the customer to be misunderstood and offended by your gestures or actions. Or you run into serious legal problems. You can’t let that happen.
However, you shouldn’t avoid doing business with overseas customers because you don’t know how. Your business can benefit significantly from internationalization. You can open new markets and get in touch with customers who demand your products or services. That gives you an edge over the competition. Another attractive factor of working with global clients is that your business can thrive even when economic challenges or natural disasters can slow patronage from local clients.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with global customers, it’s essential to know the basics. This guide will show you how to deal with international customers and how to make them feel comfortable doing business with you.
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Understand jet lag
If you have a client who lives on the other side of the world with a different time zone than yours, make a note of the time difference. They wouldn’t want to start calling or chatting with customers when it’s midnight for them. You can set different clocks on your phone and computer or set up convenient meeting reminders with your international clients. With reminders like this, scheduling meetings during your customers’ normal business hours becomes much more manageable. Also, be aware of time differences when sending emails to your international and local customers. Don’t start your message with “Hello” just because it’s 7 am for you. You can create multiple versions of your email presentations to accommodate customers in different time zones.
Try to find out about your customers’ local holidays and seasons, as this may affect their work availability and delivery times. Knowing your customers’ seasons and local holidays can also guide your advertising campaigns. For example, since winter doesn’t start at the same time for everyone, an ad for winter clothing may not be very effective during the summer heat in another country.
Respect culture and language
You must understand and respect the difference between your client’s language and culture. When each person’s cultural alignment is mutually respectful, it becomes easier to maintain a warm relationship that benefits you and your customers. Beware of stereotypes or myths associated with specific gestures, actions, or statements. Don’t make assumptions about what a customer thinks is acceptable or not. If you have any doubts or questions about your client’s culture or language, do some research or seek the help of a professional translator. This is especially important when preparing official documents.
For example, if you have a Japanese client, you may need to hire Japanese translation services. Even if you have language skills, you should avoid awkward situations. You don’t want what you say, written or spoken, to have any other meaning than what you intended. Also, ensure your website images are culturally acceptable to your international customers. Images have different connotations in different cultures. Therefore, you must understand how your website image will resonate with your global audience. Consider testing the photos you plan to use on your website with a small target market group before using them for a larger audience.
Provide excellent customer service
Many companies rely on small teams within their organizations to work with their international customers or use local distributors to manage them. In other cases, there isn’t a dedicated team for customer service calls, so you’ll find an accountant, marketing assistant, or dispatch staff handling calls from overseas customers. But not all employees are ready to provide excellent international customer service.
Some employees may find it challenging to understand the accent of an international customer. Others may be frustrated when the customer spends a lot of time explaining their situation. That can hurt how your foreign customer perceives your brand. To avoid this, make it clear to your employees that customer service is a company-wide responsibility.
To set your expectations, create an international service standard for your business that emphasizes courtesy and listening. All communications should be clear and friendly. Consider training your staff on how to make your foreign customers feel valued and intelligent ways to handle common situations like difficult phone conversations. For follow-up calls, you can collect basic information about your interactions with international customers.
Follow official rules and regulations
Each country has its laws to regulate international trade. Therefore, research your client’s global trade rules so that you can follow them and avoid any legal problems. Obtain all the necessary licenses and authorizations that will allow you to conduct international transactions legally. Also, before starting a business with a foreign customer, do a background check on the products and the customer to verify that they are legitimate.
If the products you sell online are unavailable worldwide due to specific laws, customize your website so that anyone viewing your products can only see items they can buy. You don’t want your foreign customers to be frustrated after discovering that they can’t buy certain products because they’re unavailable in their country. Also, before signing a contract with an international client, discuss the terms and conditions with a lawyer.
Pay attention to exchange rates
You must know the exchange rates to understand how much you will earn for each sale to a foreign customer and agree on the currency used for payment. Check the exchange rate when you negotiate a transaction and communicate it clearly to your client to avoid confusion. You should also review your fees when a foreign customer sends money.
Also read:6 Smart Ways to Expand Your Business