Delighting the Global Customer (1,052 words)
You've spent money and resources working to obtain hard-earned customers. Don't risk losing them to poor customer service. Inventory shortages, back orders and lengthy delivery times can eat up your savings with returns and canceled orders. Here are a few tips you can implement on both the front end and back end of your business to ensure customer satisfaction.
Ease of Order
Good customer service starts from the beginning: Make it easy for your customers to order. This requires spending time adapting your order form. A few key areas to pay close attention to are:
Name and Address: Leave plenty of space for the name and address; foreign addresses tend to be longer than U.S. addresses.
Instructions: If you are an apparel cataloger, limit the number of returns by providing size conversions. Adapting your product descriptions and order form into the local language will also reduce confusion on the part of the customer as to what they are ordering. If you are mailing in English, consider a multilingual format with ordering instructions in both English and the local language. Furthermore, specify that the customer complete the information in Roman characters. Otherwise, you may have to have your orders translated!
Response Channels: Give customers the choice to respond in the method they are most comfortable with: telephone, fax, mail or Web. While the majority of orders taken in the United States come in by telephone, this is not necessarily the case overseas. In Japan, where the cost of a phone call is high compared to the United States, most orders are placed by mail or fax. If you are a business-to-business marketer, it is imperative that you include a fax option. Most business-to-business orders are received by fax.
If you offer a phone option, consider how you'll handle incoming calls from international customers. Will you route the calls to your domestic operation or set up facilities overseas? Language, culture, time and costs are four reasons why it often makes sense to set up an overseas call center. While many people living outside the States comprehend and speak English, they often feel more comfortable conversing in their native language when placing an order.