Crossing the International Date Line means a lot more, from a business perspective, than setting your clock a few hours ahead or behind. If you have ever traveled or intend to travel far distances, conducting business from afar can be mean setting the clock back a few days or weeks. Getting in touch with people and finding the right time to get in touch with them becomes much more complicated overseas.
In international marketing, different places represent different cultures. And just as importantly, different time zones represent different rhythms of life. Using the web to your advantage can help minimize these complications and differences so that no one has to lose any sleep.
Most obviously, the Internet gives businesses an opportunity to provide services in the off hours. This can be as minimal as a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page, or as extravagant as providing direct services 24/7. Seek to provide as many resources as you can, so that your business will work efficiently and your customers will be happy, no matter what time zone they are in.
If your website only has an FAQ page, make sure there is nothing missing and begin to brainstorm other resources that you could provide. Your customer service team has likely answered every question in the book, so get their feedback as to what needs they address on the most frequent basis.
Despite your best efforts, it is unlikely that you will be able to answer every question out there within your FAQ page. For a customer or client, nothing is more frustrating than not having the answer and not having any platform on which to voice your concern. If a client cannot be served right away, provide accurate and accessible contact information so that they can be served at the appropriate time.
If you have tons of resources, and your company operates in multiple time zones, then you can consider a 24/7 chat-line with representatives stationed at their computers, poised to answer any question that comes their way. Most companies, however, don’t have this luxury. Whatever you do, I don’t recommend an automated customer service system. The impersonal nature of it can really turn your customers or clients away. Fortunately, there are some other ways to offer answers when you can’t be there to assist in person.
Consider creating a blog on your website. In addition to offering answers to questions, a blog is great for SEO purposes and can really help drive traffic to your site. Have your in-house experts create articles that provide detailed solutions to problems that you know are faced by customers and clients in your particular industry. Here’s an article that can help you get started with some best practices for blogging.
Another important thing to have in place is multicultural content. If you are have a global footprint, you need to have content that is not only translated, but meets the needs of different cultures and attitudes across the world.
When it comes to timing, different cultures might reflect different rhythms. For example, clientele in one country might be more or less likely to be reached at night instead of the morning. Or one country might interact more with your homepage, while another might first seek your social media page. Knowing your clients will let you know how to help them, or enable them to help themselves.
To sum it up, be sure that the information is available and that it is easy to find, no matter where someone is searching. If your FAQ page is on your home page, link it on your social media profile. Or, if your social media moderator is always online, link the page on your main website.
In today’s digitally enhanced world, it is possible to serve your customers 24/7, even if you can’t be there with an immediate personalized response. No matter what your resources, maximize the services you can provide. And for the services that must be waited for, minimize the time it takes to provide those services. Adjusting for better content ultimately saves you and your client time. What suggestions do you have for filling in the gaps when you can’t offer personalized answers?
Taylor Crouch – Marketing Assistant