Digitalisation has made it easier than ever to enter the global marketplace. Rather than immediately needing to set up shop in foreign markets, you can now cater to customers worldwide online and enjoy unprecedented access to global customers. When you step your business up from local to global, your brand is virtual for many of your new customers.
But going global comes with its share of challenges. An overreliance on tech sees the human touch lost in favour of automated emails, chatbots, self-service and other quick wins. These quick wins are not get-out-of-jail-free cards for neglecting to build human connections, and fail in the long term if they don’t help you build relationships with each online visitor. Maintaining the human touch in international service – from battling with language barriers to working around time zone differences – is no mean feat.
The human touch is the warm greeting you give to each customer. It’s the flexibility you show when you bend over backwards to help the customer, finding workarounds to tricky queries. It’s the personal touch that you put into your service.
We use emotion to work out whether we can trust a person or a business. Without trust, converting your online visitors is an uphill battle. Since 86% of customers confirm they’ll pay more for better service, it’s clear just how important the human touch can be in boosting your support efforts.
With struggles like this to contend with, how can you hope to offer consistently great service across continents? Used well, digitalisation may be able to help you with that, too.
1. Offer as many long-distance connection and communication options as possible
When you first scale up into the global marketplace, you may not have a physical store or office for your new customers to visit. You’ll rely solely on technology to digitalise your customer service and duplicate that coveted human touch.
While you might not be able to move in right away, you can establish a strong supporting presence on your website.
By making contact information detailed and easy to find, you demonstrate to customers that your business is open to them — even from the other side of the world.
The more channels you can offer for contacting you, the better.
Do more than just displaying a company address and telephone number. Have a social media account customers can reach out to, email addresses they can contact, comment sections on your site where relevant, and a live chat channel to demonstrate that you’re only a few clicks away from helping them out.
2. Overcome language barriers with online translation
While local businesses can be fairly confident that their customers and employees will be able to communicate in the same language, a global business has no such assurance. As you gain employees in new locations with local language capabilities this becomes less of an issue. But when you’re starting off you don’t always have this resource.
Language barriers can restrict the human touch in your service because customers won’t feel personally cared for if they cannot get support in their native language. Accommodating such differences is a personal touch that’s challenging when entering the global marketplace.
Using technology such as live chat software could help you with this. There are solutions that offer real-time chat translation, which lets your team speak in their own language, while customers speak in theirs.
You might also want to consider a multilingual or multi-regional website. A multilingual website offers content in more than one language, while a multi-regional site explicitly targets users in different countries. This helps you create a more fluent customer journey catered to each foreign market.
3. Difficulties caused by time zones
If language barriers weren’t causing enough of a headache, different time zones across the world complicate matters further. Your business is asleep while customers are awake and waiting on replies from your team. After all, support channels can’t help your team offer the human touch if no one is awake to answer.
Empower customers to help themselves. A staggering 90% of customers want to have a self-service option available.
A great way to provide awesome service, without fearing a lack of the human touch (it’s less expected), is by providing self-service options on your site.
You can also support your customers with a well-deployed chatbot. While chatbots can’t assist with every query, they can streamline self-service experiences by offering help navigating the site, or providing quick answers to simple questions. If trained to use your company’s tone of voice, chatbots can sprinkle cordial, consistent support into self-service options.
When it comes to technology, make sure you use it right
Ultimately, it’s important to remember when going global that people often want to deal with people. The technology you use should reflect this, by providing an interface for human support. When you use digitalisation to help you go global, it doesn’t mean engineering your employees out of your customer service.
Part of a great customer experience is meeting customers where they are. That doesn’t mean you need to get on a plane and visit your new global customers. The technology you use to connect with your customers can and must be used to bring the human touch of your team members to every global customer – be they next door or on the other side of the world.