How to Master International Customer Service

To become truly successful in ecommerce two aspects are absolutely crucial. Turning your customers into loyal returning customers and international expansion to generate enough revenue to keep on growing and improving your business. Unfortunately these two key factors aren't that easy to combine. Read here how to master the art of scalable, affordable international customer service.

Customer loyalty - the importance of customer care

With the endless stream of online alternatives, it is not easy to create returning loyal customers. Everything has to be nearly perfect for a customer to return. From browsing through the products up to payment, delivery and returns, all steps of the journey need to be smooth, fast and easy. A Salesforce study actually shows that 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. (How Customer Experience Is Rewriting the Rules of Business Success - Jul 31, 2019)

Customer Service plays a crucial role here. Whenever a customer has a question during the buying process or has a question or complaint afterwards, a prompt, friendly response is vital in retaining customers. Furthermore, a bad customer experience will not only scare away the customer but also their network. The following statistics, taken from the Salesupply Ecommerce Customer Care Guide 2021 underwrite this:

- 91% say they are willing to use a webshop more often after a positive customer service experience;
- 60% will not return to your company after one bad customer service experience;
- 50% will tell others about a bad experience.

Expanding cross-border
You have worked hard to get to this point. Your webstore generates a steady amount of income in your home market, you have a sufficient base of returning customers and you are no longer solely depending on paid channels to get new visitors to your website. You are now ready to expand your online business cross-border!

Inical preparations
Of course you have investigated consumer preferences, competition and all relevant cultural & legal aspects of the market you are entering. You have localised your website content, pricing and surely you have included popular payment, delivery and return options but, aren't you forgetting something? What if an international customer has a question for your service team?

Speak your customer's language!

Of course they will contact you in their own language. And they expect an answer in their own language as well. According to CSA Research, 75% of consumers say that they're more likely to return if customer care is in their own language. Marketplaces like Amazon demand its vendors to provide customer support in the local language: "When you sell in an Amazon marketplace, you are required to provide customer support in the local language of the marketplace. For instance, if you are selling on, you are required to provide customer support in Spanish."

What to do?

- Recruit an exchange student?

This might be an option, but what about the fact that a big share of all online orders is made during the evening hours? This means you will need at least two students a day. And this doesn't include the weekends yet. And what if a student gets ill, has exams, needs a vacation or returns home? You will need to recruit at least 3-4 agents to offer basic service. That's quite an investment when you are just entering a new market.

- How about outsourcing international customer support?

This is certainly a valid option but most call centers will demand you to 'buy' at least 3 full time agents, including the weekends, probably even 4. As in the previous option, that investment doesn't make sense when you are just entering a market and your event volume initially will be low.

Welcome to the international customer service paradox

In order to grow your business you need to expand internationally → In order to become successful in a market you need to turn customers into returning customers → To do so you need to provide good, local customer service → when entering a new market your event volume will be low, making good customer service unaffordable...

Don't fear, there is a solution!

The advantage of Shared Customer Service

Imagine being able to deliver good native customer care whilst only paying for the events you receive. Salesupply supports over 200 online brands and retailers with shared customer support agents. Working with shared agents, your (international) clients will always find a trained native customer care agent to support them in their own language, and you only pay for the events you receive.

This way you save a substantial budget for generating traffic to make your new cross-border venture a success.

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