As a US business thinking about growing your business into Europe, there are a number of challenges that you may face. Not least of all, is the complexity of how to manage the diversity of a region with 24 official languages, and sweeping differences in cultural norms and expectations. Austria is very different to Serbia, and Portugal is very different to Latvia (and don’t ever confuse Portuguese and Spanish!). Many a business has been faced with difficulties in their operations by providing customer services that don’t meet the very varied expectations of native audiences.
Here at Arise we have years of experience of providing cultural and linguistically appropriate services for US companies operating across Europe, so here are few of the things to think about when setting up in a new geography:
Can you communicate easily with your chosen partner?
It’s easy to think that ‘everyone speaks English, right?’, and it’s true that English is very much the common language of the EU. But ensuring that your support partner truly understands your brand, and ethos, and is able to deliver the service you expect is made a lot easier when you have a common language. Ireland is one of only two countries with English as the first language in the EU, and due to the close historical links between the two countries, provides the home for European HQ’s for many US companies including Apple, Google, Facebook, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Dell, Airbnb and many more. Ireland also ranks Number 1 in the world for inward investment by both quantity and value, as well as for the flexibility and adaptability of our people. At Arise, we pride ourselves on really getting to know and understand our clients. In fact, a US company we provide multi-lingual customer and technical support for across Europe recently commented on how impressed they were with our ability to quickly grasp the depth and complexity of their multiple brands and products.
Will Brexit complicate matters?
The shadow of Brexit certainly adds a degree of complexity to business decisions for companies looking to partner with English-speaking organisations. The current uncertainty around what Brexit may look like and how it might impact services delivered both within Europe, as well as trading with companies outside the EU, adds another layer to the decision-making process. Ireland is hugely proud of its EU membership and remaining a part of the EU means we don’t have to worry about recruiting native EU language speakers to come and work and live in the country, delivering support for our customers.
Do I actually need native language speakers?
One thing we have found over time is that customers do prefer to deal with native language speakers – as they are able to easily understand cultural nuances that may be lost when dealing with fluent speakers from other nationalities. This is particularly important when dealing with support conversations that may start off on a negative footing, due to service or product failure for example.
How do I manage reporting and business performance with multiple locations across Europe?
It may be tempting to look for a network of partners based in each of your target countries. But how do you ensure that all Customer Service agents have exactly the same level of training and support and are operating to the same high standards? We know that companies have found it difficult to standardise reporting and delivery with this model in the past. Keeping all your Customer Service provision in one location means you have one point of contact, one training delivery partner, and one ‘version of the truth’ when it comes to reporting and results. Which all reduces risk to your brand and business, makes it easier to measure service delivery and provides your customers with a seamless service experience.
These are only a few of the things to think about when considering how to grow your business into Europe. To find out more about how Arise can help you make this process as easy as possible – visit our website.