A customer is an individual or a business that purchases products or services from another business. Customers drive the revenues of any business. A business cannot continue to exist without its customers.
Businesses compete with each other, advertise aggressively, and offer discounts and various other schemes, all in a bid to attract more and more customers. Businesses also design unique products or services that they think their customers would love. Apple, Tesla, Tiktok, and Google are some great examples of business houses offering unique products that have a customer fan base across the globe.
People at the helm of some renowned businesses understand the importance and value of each and every customer. They invest hugely towards customer service and pay attention to every criticism they receive in a bid to improve their product or service. Jeff Bezos once said, “We are customer obsessed. We start with what the customer needs and work backwards”
While every client is important, dealing with an international client has a secondary list of concerns, etiquettes and manners attached. In this article, we will go through some of the most important things you must remember while dealing with international clients.
- Time Zone Differences
- Respect to Differences in Language and Culture
- Adapt Your Marketing Material
- Understand the Currency Values
- Follow Legal Rules and Regulations
- Perform a Background Check
- Make Written Contracts
Things to Remember While Dealing With International Clients
People are a product of their environment, culture, traditions and of course, influenced by their geographical location. When businesses are dealing with clients who are based in different countries, it is advantageous to keep certain aspects in mind. The following are some of the most important things you must remember while dealing with an international client or customer:
Time Zone Differences
Time plays a pivotal role when dealing with international clients. It is not only the time difference but even the difference in working days and holidays. It is always beneficial to ask the client about their convenient time and availability beforehand. This will help you avoid any last-minute discomfort and set the right tone for the meeting.
Respect to Differences in Language and Culture
People are different. The difference could be language, culture, traditions, beliefs and others. In a business relationship, it is important to show mutual respect to each other, steering clear of any judgements and assumptions. It is advantageous to read and understand these differences before dealing with an international client. If in doubt, ask the client for clarification to avoid any blunders.
Adapt Your Marketing Material
When targeting a new audience from a different culture, it is important to localise different elements of your marketing material to make it attractive to that audience. Languages are important in business and updating your slogans, mission statements, USPs, website, etc., to target international clients is just smart business.
Understand the Currency Values
One of the most important things to remember while dealing with international clients is to understand the difference in currency values. Since you are dealing with a citizen of another country, you will get paid in another currency. So, it is extremely important to understand the exchange rates between different currencies in order to avoid any sort of conflict in future.
Follow Legal Rules and Regulations
International business comes with its own set of rules and regulations that are quite stringent. Every country has its own laws that businesses need to comply with. Detailed and thorough research about these rules and procedures of the client’s country is a must. It is important to take permissions and verify licenses that are required to transact business between the countries. So, it is essential to make sure that the contract between you and your international client is in accordance with both of your country's laws.
Perform a Background Check
This goes without saying. When dealing with an international client, it is important to verify their legitimacy. Perform background checks on the client and their business operations to verify that everything is above-board and legitimate. Doing this can save you from a lot of trouble.
Make Written Contracts
Last but not least thing to remember to always make written and legalized contracts while dealing with international clients. It is better to agree on payment methods, the different currencies used for payment, taxes, shipments, time, etc., during the early stages. Since you won't be having any in-person meetings, it is essential to make legal and signed contracts beforehand to save any trouble in the future.
Pros and Cons of Working With International Clients
The internet has opened up global markets that were once inaccessible or at least, difficult to reach. Working with international clients is more common than ever before. The accessibility, ease of reach, and quickness of conducting business have made more and more business owners embrace the global economy and international expansions.
However, each coin has two sides. So, dealing with international clients comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Awareness of both sides is wise and beneficial to making business decisions. The following are the pros and cons of dealing with international clients or customers:
- Getting Paid has become easier: Getting payments have become easier than before thanks to various online Cross-border payments platforms have gotten easier. Online payments are quick and hassle-free. They are also available in multiple languages and allow transactions in multiple currencies as well.
- Ease of communication and collaboration: Thanks to technological advances communication and collaboration are now possible in real-time and face-to-face. This increases efficiency and boosts real-time collaboration with clients, team members and contractors.
- Strengthening and broadening of personal skills: Working with international clients adds to personal skill sets, widens knowledge base and broadens perspective. It also expands personal horizons and promotes friendships in different countries.
- Business Expansion: The scope of expanding business is multi-fold as the efforts are concentrated on selling the product or service.
- Higher Returns: The cost of your product or services may be higher in other countries. This could be because of a higher living standard in those countries. This discrepancy could be a unique opportunity, especially, if you are living in a country that has a weaker currency than your target market. In this way, dealing with international clients can open the gates to earning higher returns.
- Lack of personal meetings: This is especially true in the current era. While face-to-face meetings are possible via the internet, it is almost impossible to physically meet very often. Trust is built faster with physical meetings than the meetings held via Skype, Zoom, or any other online app.
- Different Time Zones: Time Zones can be a massive issue. Whatever you do, one person will always be in an inconvenient time zone. It is almost an art to juggle the time zone difference effectively.
- Dealing with non-paying clients: Clients who are across the border and not making timely payments are especially difficult to deal with. It can be time-consuming and emotionally draining. Also, in some cases, there is no real guarantee that the payment will ever be made.
The boundaries that once limited our access to working with international clients have vanished. Technological advances have made international business easy and lucrative. However, the benefits are not without their drawbacks.
While taking advantage of all the opportunities that are offered to work with international clients, it is mandatory to stay vigilant and be cognisant of the risks and take decisions that are beneficial to both sides.
How do you deal with international customers?
You need to keep the following things in mind while dealing with international customers:
- Adapt Your Marketing Material to suit international clients
- Understand the currency difference
- Respect time zones
- Understand the difference between language and culture
- Perform a background check on the clients
- Make written contracts
How do businesses approach foreign clients?
The following are some of the ways in which businesses can approach foreign clients:
- Look for clients on LinkedIn
- Look for clients on Twitter
- Take part in international webinars
- Be active on Quora
What are the barriers to international marketing?
Social and cultural differences are the most prominent barriers to international marketing. Different countries have different culture and levels of adaptability to new products and services which can be a huge barrier in international marketing.