International clients are a lucrative market for many companies, but they can also be intimidating to deal with. Understanding the key differences between your customer’s culture and your own will help you avoid any embarrassing faux pas. It will also make them feel more comfortable around you.
Here are 11 tips that cover some of the most important cultural differences between countries, as well as how to handle them when dealing with international customers
1. Make Sure Your Client Is Not Being Taken Advantage of
When working with foreign clients, be aware that there are people who will cheat them out of money or other resources. This has become especially prevalent in countries where poverty rates are high. Make sure to always double-check the purchasing process and all documentation for accuracy.
2. Avoid Any Form of Rudeness
You may find it odd when you hear about differing views on what constitutes rude behavior; however, it’s important to avoid any action that you deem rude, regardless of how benign it may be in your country. If you sense that something is making your client uncomfortable, don’t continue doing it.
3. Honor Their Culture
Understanding the customs and taboos within your client’s culture is vital to avoid any embarrassment. For example, in some countries, people will not shake hands with the opposite gender. In others, you cannot clink glasses to signify a toast. Be aware of these different customs and avoid causing any discomfort.
4. Adhere to Their Dress Code
As well as following their etiquette rules, it’s also important to keep up with their dress code. In many countries, business wear is very formal and conservative– not what you typically wear back home. Keep this in mind when meeting with international clients or hosting events
5. Use Technology to Make Communication Easier
In some countries, your client may not speak the same language as you. In others, they might speak a different dialect within their own language. Using modern technology can make all the difference here. For example, you can get an outsourced bilingual Spanish virtual assistant to help you relay messages to your clients from Spain or to translate important documents.
6. Be Patient With Their Payments
When dealing with international clients, it’s important to understand how they handle money and time. For example, some cultures are more driven by the clock than others; therefore, working within strict deadlines isn’t always possible. Other countries have an entirely different perception of time than you do back home. Be patient around this and accept that there will be a cultural learning curve and a communication barrier.
7. Treat All Clients Equally
Whether they’re from your own country or not, all business relationships should be considered equal. That means giving them all the same attention and respect as every other customer. This is especially important as it helps to avoid discrimination claims.
8. Address Issues Quickly and Clearly
Communicating with your international clients clearly and directly will help you to solve issues quickly. You can even use visual cues such as this infographic on common business etiquette across countries to help you understand their culture and find an appropriate way to address problems if they arise.
9. Keep a Professional Tone Throughout the Relationship
Regardless of what issue arises or how close you feel toward your client, always maintain a professional tone when responding to them. Avoid casual conversation and focus only on keeping the relationship healthy and effective for both of you– no matter what happens.
10. Treat Them How They Want To Be Treated
There’s no better rule to follow for providing great customer service than the Golden Rule. Treat your international clients how you want them to treat you– just be careful not to treat them in an offensive way that you wouldn’t appreciate back at home.
11. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Asking questions is an effective way to get clarification about any aspect of a situation. If there’s a question you have about your international client, ask the appropriate person within your company for help so that everyone understands exactly what should be done in that specific case. Don’t just assume that you know how to deal with their business or personal life because it could lead to issues later on.
Whether you’re dealing with a client in your own country or abroad, it’s important to maintain professionalism. When working internationally, there are many cultural nuances that could be unfamiliar and confusing for someone who is not from the same culture as their customer. We hope this article has provided some helpful tips for those of you looking for advice about how best to deal with international clients– even if they speak another language!