Customer Support for International Expansion

Business owners dream of the day they're so successful they can expand internationally. When you go global, you diversify your revenue sources, expand your potential reach and often increase overall revenue. However, your customer support strategy has to keep up with your expansion rate or your growth may be marred by poor first impressions and dissatisfied customers. Your critical customer support areas are scale, strategic geography selection, hiring methods, solution distribution, and handling language coverage and cultural differences.

Customer Support at Scale

Are your current customer support solutions ready for international scaling? The customer support technology you used when your business first started may not be the best choice when you expand overseas. As part of your global expansion strategy, you may need to overhaul your entire customer support infrastructure so you maintain consistency across the entire company. Research the differences between business phone systems at your main location and your international locations. The perfect tech solution for your headquarters may not work in a developing country with less infrastructure.

Strategic Geography Selection

You won't strike gold in every country, making strategic geography selection an important part of your business expansion goals. If you have local customer support support centers, as opposed to a central support center with multilingual agents, you need to consider the business culture differences, relative safety and strength of infrastructure for the location. Some areas simply don't work out for global expansion, while others end up demanding more customer support because of your products' popularity.

Effective Hiring Methodologies

If your business is rapidly expanding, you need to balance the influx of new agents with the existing company culture. Create effective training materials to handle your new hires and onboard them quickly. For global customer support expansion, at the very least you need proficient speakers for all official languages. If you can cover specific dialects, that's even better. For overseas support centers, hiring locals helps you create a connection with the country's community and cuts down on cultural barriers.

Create a training system that's easily deployable at any customer support location, not just your headquarters. If you're using technology uncommon to the area, your training period may start with familiarizing new hires with the equipment you're using before proceeding with standard training. Localize your training materials so you aren't running into frequent confusion or miscommunication over business processes. You want to deliver a consistent, high-quality customer experience worldwide.

Solution Distribution

What barriers do you face with setting up an effective customer support center overseas? You have several hurdles to overcome, such as being able to legally do business in that country, finding a suitable location for your customer support center, sourcing or shipping your customer support solutions and getting local help to learn about the area. With developing countries, one of the biggest concerns is not having the network or the electricity infrastructure to support your solutions. Your customer support infrastructure may need reworking if the support isn't in place for your existing solutions.

Global expansion results in many benefits for businesses, but careful handling of your customer support is essential as you grow. Your ability to scale infrastructure, training and hiring makes the difference between creating a consistent customer experience and falling flat when your global customers need you most.

Sources:

http://chiefexecutive.net/4-real-benefits-from-international-expansion/

http://thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2014/08/11/4-ways-break-language-barrier-global-customer-support/

Michael Buenaventura

August 31, 2015