Building Relationships with International Clients
Building a lasting relationship with an international client, when done well, can lead to years of happy, successful business.
Below, we have outlined some of the considerations businesses need to have when dealing with their international client base.
Building International Client Relationships Successfully
The first impression is very important and, unlike with domestic clients, you will need to do this over the phone or using conference technology, like Skype.
This may seem like an obstacle but a little pre-planning and consideration will go a long way.
Often, you will be communicating in English, however, learning a few phrases in the clients own language; such as hello/goodbye/thank you, will show you are willing to make an effort.
If a language barrier becomes an issue, suggest communicating via email. It may take longer but simplifies the overall process.
Respect Cultural Etiquette
Different countries and cultures have different ways of doing things, and this extends to business too.
For example, in Austria it is expected of you to use titles and last names to address people, unless specifically asked not to. In Japan, nodding is considered important to show you are listening intently, and in Russia, the English symbol for ‘OK’ is considered very rude!
Getting to know these cultural differences will help you build successful international relationships without accidentally causing insult.
Remember Time Zones
It seems simple, but always ensure you are aware of your client’s hours of operations. The US is 5-9 hours behind the UK; so business needs to be conducted when appropriate for both. The UAE takes its weekend break on a Friday and Saturday. Knowing these things will help to plan meetings and avoid interrupting a client when they are not at work.
Meet Global Expectations
Don’t go into a relationship with an international client expecting it to go the same way as a domestic relationship. Global companies have different expectations and you may need to adjust to these. If you are not willing to compromise, you will find building relationships very hard.
Finally, always ensure there is a complete understanding at all stages of the relationship. Language barriers and cultural differences can be a challenge but it is no excuse for bad conduct.
Remember, a successful, well-handled relationship will only help you build more.