This is how I have heard many American companies market themselves. But the fact is that having three time zones across Europe and with up to ten hours between you and your customer really is not that simple. You have to be ready around the clock to give your customers the best service.
"The customer comes first". This is a saying in both the US and in Europe. Your customers, therefore, expect a quick and helpful response from you.
At best, you have a five-hour time difference - in the most challenging cases, it's up to ten. No matter what areas of Europe you export to, inquiries will be made outside of your normal business hours.
In order to live up to your desire to be ready with help 24/7, you will therefore need to find another solution for your customer service. This can, for example, be in the form of outsourcing or digital solutions.
As the customer dialogue increasingly is moving to social media platforms, the greater the pressure is on the manufacturer or brand owner to answer quickly. With more questions being asked via social media platforms, the patience of the customer and end consumer decreases.
You can find several different help desks that take good care of your customers' inquiries. They answer basic questions and let the more demanding questions pass on to you - all with high customer service, so your customers feel seen and well treated.
FAQ means “Frequently Asked Questions” and is an indispensable tool for both your customers and your help desk. But what should a good FAQ include?
I would argue that if you collect questions from your customers over a period of time, you will get an overview of what questions you are most often asked and most likely to be asked in the future; let it be the starting point and feel free to adapt with your knowledge from the concept test.
Not sure about what a help desk can do? Take a look at the Danish company Zendesk. They offer a digital help desk that will quickly respond to your customers’ questions. If you are really brave, you can let your customer service dialogue be "all digital" and use a chatbot (a software designed to simulate a conversation).
You need to see your help desk and your European customer service as an important partner. Make sure you are one of those people they would like to talk to. Respond quickly and efficiently to their inquiries and make the working day as easy as possible for them: Make sure they always have the information needed including your FAQ - preferably in an even more in-depth version.
If your product needs some form of customization, you can consider adding a "quick call" button on your site, where you guarantee the customer a call within 10-15 minutes. It obviously requires a setup; that there is always someone who is on duty and can respond to customer inquiries. But for the customer at the other end, it seems very positive.
When I came to the US 15 years ago, I was amazed at how much reviews matter in the buying decision for both B2B and B2C. Americans both write and read reviews - and they did so before social media. This is starting to catch on in Europe in recent years.
That's why you need to be razor-sharp, fast, accommodating, and accessible. When you are, I would recommend that you encourage your customers to review you and your products. This may be where your new customers open their eyes to you. And remember that when customers start judging you, you or your helpdesk must be ready to answer customer reviews - even across time differences.
I can guide you through the whole process of establishing your company in the European market and begin to understand the culture and way of thinking.
After working with international trade for more than 35 years, I have built up a large network, I have hands-on experience with sales in both the USA and Europe.
Contact me for a non-committal talk about how I can help your business with your next strategic step in the European market.
This was the COURAGE model's A - you have to be ready with good service 24/7. The next step is G: Generate relations, which you can read about here on the blog next week. Stay tuned!
Charlotte Nytoft / Oct 5th, 2021
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