The Best CSRs Training Crosses Borders – Canada, USA, and More
by Kate Nasser | 11 Comments »
Are your customer service representatives, CSRs and technical support teams, working with customers in other countries? How strong are their intercultural people-skills? Immigrants, ex-pats, and companies doing business in other countries can be far more successful with just a little more attention to intercultural people skills (also known as soft skills). If you want a job, a sale, or a great customer service review, step outside of your own perspective and use an intercultural approach. Customers and employers make decisions from their cultural zone not yours.
Canada and the USA share a common language not culture.
Nick Noorani writes on the blog The Expatriate Mind Nine Soft Skills No Immigrant Should Be Without: “Skilled immigrants often focus on improving technical skills. After coming to Canada, they are shocked when they are told they have no Canadian experience.” Then he cites an example where a courier needing his signature asked him for his John Hancock — an American expression to be sure. Yet the courier was working in Canada!
CSRs outside the USA.
Many USA customer service call centers are now located outside America (some in Canada and some off-shore). How well do the CSRs in Canada and off-shore understand the regional differences across the USA? Adapting to these differences as you speak to American customers distinguishes your customer service from those that don’t adapt. Intercultural adaptation builds customer loyalty.
I have outlined these American regional differences and how to adapt in a new customer service training DVD: Customer Service USA – What They Expect Coast to Coast and Everywhere in Between.
You already provide phone and web technology to connect your CSRs and technical support teams with your customers. Turn that connection into a profitable loyal bond with intercultural training. For companies with USA customers, this means adapting to regional differences – North, South, East, West, and everywhere in between. In Canada there are both cultural and regional differences that global companies can learn and embrace to build Canadian customer loyalty.
For companies doing business interculturally, the key to customer loyalty is:
Learn the differences
Respect the differences
Love the differences &
Find the fit!
I welcome your comments, contributions, and feedback below. For information on purchasing the training DVD, please click on the link above.
Please visit this blog again for many other people-skills posts on customer service, teamwork, and intercultural connections.
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach, is a highly respected soft skills, customer service, and team building trainer. In her new training DVD, she shares 20 years of first hand experience working with customers in every region of the USA. Tap this experience for your company!
I just wanted to sneak in a comment here Kate if you don’t mind. I was fortunate enough to be the designer for Kate’s DVD project, and as such I was able to view the DVD in it’s entirety. I run my business up here in Canada, and am CEO and CSR rolled into one, with absolutely no Canadian clients. All my clients are primarily in the USA with a few in the UK. There have been many times I misinterpreted a tone of voice or wording in an email, took it the wrong way, and let it effect my work day. After watching Kate’s training DVD all those misinterpretations I had instantly made sense. I was able to think back to past interactions to realize what in that conversation I missed. Now I am developing the skills I need to adapt to the geographical changes in my client interactions. In just a few short weeks I have noticed a profitable difference. So this DVD training is perfect for your CSR team, but I would also consider it a valuable tool for any business position that deals with clients located elsewhere on the global map.
This is a great concept because we do seem to have cultural road blocks. It would be nice to be on one page culturally,
Excellent topic and one that has implications beyond just resolving the customer’s immediate problem. One that comes to mind most clearly is the potentially negative effect on the brand’s overall image. In addition to the obvious issues that may arise in resolving specific, individual customer difficulties with a product, there is the potential to create an off-putting attitude toward the brand for offshoring the CSR function. In today’s “new normal”, with U.S. joblessness still at disturbingly high levels, hiring foreign workers for jobs that could be provided by local companies could well have damaging blowback on the brand for neglecting good corporate citizenship and responsibility. Even if an offshore call center agent speaks flawless English, a customer’s awareness of an accent may lead them to wonder where the call center is actually located, and additionally, to wonder why the brand didn’t “buy American.” According to businesspundit.com, some bigger brands have a recorded message that tells customers “You are now being transferred to our call center in…” and they name the U.S. city where the function is located.
Clearly, brands must manage their bottom lines and offshoring some or all of the CSR functions can be a viable option. But brands should consider, and plan to address this aspect.
What a great tool. I wish I had it when I first started out in IT. I’ve travelled all over the world, but never experienced culture shock until I started working with different clients around the US. I expected differences when in another country, but didn’t think about the differences in the U.S. until they were staring me right in the face (and customer interactions).
As I interpret your post, I see the message as a focus on empathy as a core value in delivering superior service. Intercultural understanding is a fantastic method for unlocking this quality in front line service personnel. I use the term “unlock” intentionally, because, as you relayed your story over on my blog in respose to Te Coine’s post, empathy, at its root, cannot be taught if the propensity doesn’t inately exist.
I can speak from personal experience that the exposure to other cultures can bring the focus on empathy from the unconscience to the conscience.
I was recently in Mexico at the Global Contact Forum. One of the key take-aways from that conference was the cultural differences between the American consumer and our counterparts in Latin America. What that experience made me do is think. Think about how service needs to be personal. How service needs to connect at a deep personal level.
Anytime you’re put in a situation that makes you feel slightly uncomfortable, like being set in a different culture, makes you evaluate how you interact with others. In my humble opinion, that’s the benefit that such efforts as you suggest can deliver to service personnel.
Nice post. I’ve now subscribed to your RSS and added you to my blog roll. Thanks!
So many problems can be attributed to signalling and perception. When working across cultural boundaries, the potential for mis-perception is only multiplied. With the right set of tools, however, people can learn to send signals that are appropriate for the audience, and better understand the signals that they receive, too!
Great post Kate! I love the differentiation between language and culture. Domestic cultural variance is such a crucial interpersonal variable; yet it is often undervalued or oversimplified. I am now extremely curious about how you have interpreted the cultural differences in different parts of America.
Your knowledge set would definitely benefit foreign companies entering the American market, targeting at American consumers, or partnering with American organizations, because in those cases, they tend to homogenize the American culture without taking into consideration regional differences and nuances that can actually make or break such interaction. When I was working for McCann Erickson China, I actually have conducted some research to differentiate cultures in North, South, West, and East China to help multinationals adapt to various regional markets.
I suppose that Chinese companies can really benefit from your expertise when they come to do business here in the U.S. and try to cultivate relationships with American publics.
So interesting that you were doing that work about the regional differences in China. Your understanding of my work and the DVD is right on target. Would love to exchange insights on this topic. Let’s set up a time to speak.
I am pleased to know that others are digging into intercultural differences as the next wave of competitive success factors. Global success requires it and local interaction demands it.