How does one satisfy clients globally? It’s a challenge. Get it right and you win.
Clients who have needs around the world, while being part of one parent company, are actually often many distinct clients with their own specific and maybe differing needs. Each subsidiary deserves to receive what they need on a local basis. This is much easier said than done.
Firstly, there are language and custom differences that can lead to communication challenges. Also, work ethics differ. What is a deliver-to-me-soon expectation may mean next week in some countries while it may mean later today or tomorrow, at the latest, in others.
A key is identifying what clients expect and want and when. We cannot assume we know. We must ask and be very specific. Ideally, the asking is done by someone who understands the local culture and customs. Subsequently, the client’s expectations and needs must be communicated promptly and accurately so the team can deliver on time.
An additional challenge is that overseas subsidiaries, your's and your clients', often do not like to be told what to do by U.S. headquarters. This may not be the case with the local subsidiary’s head person, but the work depends on others within the subsidiary and some individuals may not like being ordered by the “ugly American”. This is true more often and in more ways than we would like to think.
There is no simple way to solve the challenge of achieving seamless global service. It requires not only an understanding and acceptance of differences in culture, customs and attitudes, but also a dedication to working dutifully to developing one’s company into a truly global team.
As with most difficult situations, communication is key. I offer that top down direction from U.S. companies, while sometimes necessary owing to a time requirement, is best avoided and the preferred approach to becoming a true service team is asking the people who are actually doing the work and delivering the service around the world how they would like to identify client expectations and needs as well as communicate and deliver. These people need to buy in, to be part of the solution, to feel they are important, and to be heard.
With our business world being so global, we must realize the need to be a true worldwide team. We must strive to achieve this continuously, so that when a client asks, we are consistently ready to deliver.