Delivering great customer service overseas

Engaging with overseas clients

The proliferation of digital communication making it easy for anyone anywhere in the world to comment about your product, service or business so it is important to consider at the outset how you will keep your international customers happy.

If you are a service or online business, you are likely to have a more direct relationship with your clients and so you need to factor customer service into your business model. This might take the form of face-to-face support and interaction or you might be able to service customers through a call centre. You may need to have this in the overseas country or you might be able to base it in Jersey or the UK. Whichever way you engage with customers, you make more of an impact if you can talk to them in their own language and time zone, so think about the logistics of this as you plan your customer service practices.

If you are selling product through an agent or distributor you might transfer some of the responsibility for the aftersales service to them, however, don’t become too distant as you need to be knowledgeable about your end customer’s experience to ensure that your product and brand are being supported in the way you want. Ironically, dealing with customer complaints is a great way to know if your partners are providing the levels of service that you expect.

Some of the things to consider when thinking about your after-sales service
  • How to offer the same standard of customer service overseas as you do at home.
  • What policies and processes you need to implement to effectively manage returns, exchanges, regular servicing or warranty claims in each market.
  • Ensure that the customer service provided by your in-country partners reflects your business’s brand proposition.
  • Whether your in-country partner will need ongoing training on your product or service.
  • Measure how your product or service compares to your competitors.
  • Watch customers buying your products so you know how and why they are choosing them.
  • Using customer ideas and feedback to improve or evolve your products and services to meet their needs.

Don’t think that the effort stops once you have made your first sale! Just like growing your business locally, selling internationally is a continuous process and the more you engage with partners and customers in your overseas markets the better you will succeed.

Maintaining contact
  • Be in regular contact with your in-country partners to make sure everything is going OK.
  • Have a rigorous approach to visiting the country to see your suppliers, customers and partners face-to-face which will improve both your relationships and your understanding of the market.
  • Be proactive in following the political, social and economic changes, as well as developments in technology in each country as all these factors can make a difference to your ease of doing business in that market.
  • Review your business’s key performance indicators to make sure that international sales continue to add value to your business.
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