Globalisation of Customer Service
Expanding into a new country can be both daunting and exciting. Here's our advice on what to expect.
March 30th, 2020
You’ve realised there’s demand for your company to be present in a new country; but what do you need to consider before making the move? Of course, it’s important to make sure the move remains profitable for your business. To do this, you need to plan for the factors that can affect customer service as you expand.
As potentially obvious as it is, this remains the most important consideration. We'd advise starting with a small team whilst demand for that language builds (unless you're psychic and know there'll be a huge demand as soon as you launch).
Success in a new language won't always be immediate, and you need to plan for that. Versatility is key. You need to be sure your customer care operation can scale both up and down in line with the demand. The way you advertise your new language and promote the channels being offered is key to keeping your new customers informed.
New countries bring new challenges, and different customers can mean a completely different communication preference.
Channel use can vary wildly between countries. Take the social channel ‘VK’ for example. It’s hugely popular in Russia where it’s classed as one of the most visited sites. But, in the UK, it’s a tiny spec in Facebook’s rear-view mirror.
Your average western European customer may not have heard of VK, but one of our clients found that Twitter accounted for 9.2% of UK contacts, compared to 1.1% in France and 0.1% in Germany. So, it may not always be as clear cut as it seems; understanding which channels your customers will want to talk to you on is paramount.
Expansion will also require your customer service operation being available across new time zones to ensure the expectations of your customers are met.
If you’re expanding to a country where people will be awake and contacting when your team is usually clocking off for the night, it’s worth expanding your team to cover more opening hours, so your customers are always answered.
Reaching out to new customers can also mean your query types are different. It’s important you consider this and prepare your CS team well in advance so they can provide the best possible customer service to customers in your new area.
If you start to ship internationally, there is a possibility that you will receive more delivery or refund queries given the different demands and timescales surrounding international shipping.
We took a look at the reasons for contact that one of our retail clients received and noticed a surprising difference between them depending on country.
On average, refund and return queries make up 67.2% of all contacts in Germany, but only 27.8% in the UK
This stark difference could be down to numerous factors such as different payment methods, shipping methods, and different processes used for each country.
Spending time culminating a seamless customer journey will allow you to reap the benefits of success when entering a new foreign market.
LAWS AND REGULATIONS
An important consideration is the different laws and regulations present in the new area. Certain product ranges, especially branded ones, might be restricted in certain countries due to copyright laws. Taxes, duties, and import charges will play an important part in a customers' decision o purchase a product internationally too. If these charges are unknown at the time of purchase, or if the customer is unhappy with the charges, then your CS team will start receiving more contacts.
However, don't forget the importance of matching your customers' expectations. For example, if delivery timescales are different, make sure you display this clearly on the website. Similarly, make sure your international sizing charts are accurate and up to date.
Now that you've decided there's interest in the new market, chosen new processes and CS provisions, you're ready for the exciting step of launching in your new country.
Don't forget to choose a partner that can help you along the way. We have 8 year's experience as a customer service outsourcer and have helped many clients with their CS expansion. If you'd like further advice on how to make the transition as smooth as possible, get in touch with us today.