Cultural differences can create particularly bad impressions when you interact with a customer from a different part of the world—or even a subculture within your own country.
Why does this happen? Culture is the set of assumptions, traditions, and values a community develops over time. Thus, members of a culture other than yours may interpret your behavior in ways that haven’t occurred to you, because of their community’s own assumptions, traditions, or values.
If you want to manage this risk, put some work into becoming expert on cultures that your company serves and expert at cross-cultural communication in general. There are some superb books that can guide you, such as Brooks Peterson’s Cultural Intelligence: A Guide to Working with People from Other Cultures (Intercultural Press, 2004).
A caution: Be sure to apply your new expertise flexibly. Individuals
don’t always subscribe to their culture’s assumptions, norms, or values: Personality or family background can be a more powerful determinant of an individual’s values. One of my strongest recommendations in all areas of customer service is that you think about your customers as individuals rather than as groups. This core principle applies to cross-cultural communication, as well.
Micah Solomon, author of “High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service“, is the business keynote speaker, author, and customer service consultant termed by the Financial Post ”a new guru of customer service excellence.” Solomon offers speaking and consulting on customer service issues, the customer experience, and company culture — and how they fit into today’s marketing and technology landscape. An entrepreneur and business leader, he previously coauthored the bestselling “Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit“.
See Micah in action — including video and free resources — at http://www.micahsolomon.com. Or, click here for your own free chapter of Micah’s new book, High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service (AMACOM Books) and Micah’s #1 bestseller, Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization———————————————————–
Portions of this post may have appeared in Micah’s previously published work.