Speaking different languages is just the beginning.
Perhaps now more than ever, it's important for companies that want to grow to be able to provide customer service that meets the needs of a multicultural customer base. Whether that means understanding the varied cultural backgrounds of customers or providing customer service in different languages depends on what you sell and who your customer is.
How does culture affect customer service?
These are some ways cultural differences and experiences affect customer service, according to CMSWire:
Communications: One of the top ways culture affects customer service is via communications. Not only is it imperative to be able to communicate across cultural lines, but it is also important to know how to effectively communicate. For instance, some cultures employ formal language, while other cultures employ an informal style.
Security and safety: Another major way culture can affect customer service concerns security. This applies to both in-person and online transactions. On the one hand, 57% of Europeans feel uneasy about the security of their data online, while 78% of Spaniards feel unsure of the safety of their personal data. Being mindful of this information can help you put your customers at ease.
Perceptions of color: On another note, even our perceptions of color tend to change across cultures. For instance, those of Egyptian descent associate the color orange as a color of mourning, those from the Netherlands view orange as a national color, as it is associated with the Dutch royal family. Consider the colors of your website, packaging, etc. Additionally, you may want to redesign your packaging to cater to different cultural norms.
- Displays of emotions: According to Userlike, how emotions are used and viewed cross-culturally often causes confusion and misunderstandings. In particular, some cultures condemn displays of emotions while others embrace them. Some cultures frown on displays of emotion. Conversely, some cultures are more accepting of displays of emotions.
Tips on how to manage cross-cultural customer service
Training Industry gives these tips for managing cross-cultural customer service:
Be open-minded. One of the best ways to manage cross-cultural customer service is by being open-minded. In talking with customers, one may not always understand the nature behind a request or be aware of a certain cultural custom. Rather than jumping to conclusions, set aside any assumptions and try to put yourself in your customer's place. It's alright to ask questions to try to get to the heart of an issue or concern that a customer may have and resolve the problem. You might even find that the insights you glean from talking with the customer can shape a broader insight or communication strategy with your target customers.
Learn about the customs of different cultures (and train your team on these customs). No matter what type of business you may have, you will have customers of all cultures. Take the time to learn the customs and values of your customers so you can better serve their needs.
- Employ active listening. Another great method of managing cross-cultural customer service is by learning and using active listening. This is a beneficial technique to use anyway in interactions with everyone: co-workers, customers, vendors, etc.