Guest Blogger

By Andrew Stevens, Principal, Quadient

In our modern, connected and globalised world, it’s incredibly rare to find an enterprise that only operates in one geography. Companies must operate on a global scale, under more pressure than ever to give customers the same great experience anywhere in the world. Communicating with customers is increasingly simple thanks to the many different channels available and yet businesses are still running into issues and making avoidable mistakes. Culture, economy, regulations and preferred communication channels muddy the international waters, making it difficult for businesses to know what will work in which regions or meaning they will have to scale back certain services when expanding overseas. For example, fintech challenger Monzo recently launched its mobile-only bank in the United States, but was unable to offer its complete run of services such as money lending, since it doesn’t have its own US banking license.

Contacting customers in a consistent, compliant and relevant way certainly won’t get any easier. New data regulations like GDPR that alter the way organisations have to handle data will continue to be introduced, whilst potential upheavals such as Brexit will also change how businesses are able to operate in different regions. However, there are three key steps companies can take to make things easier for themselves when it comes to gathering, organising and using customer data – ultimately helping to deliver great customer experiences at home and abroad.

  1. Collecting the correct data to curb customer communication catastrophes

The fact of the matter is, many businesses are still not collecting or using the right data on their customers, meaning a regional approach to customer experience often falls flat. This may seem an obvious step, but it’s the cornerstone of great cross-border customer experience. Businesses need to prioritise data on both their customers and the regions they operate in, as this will help to show preferred communication methods and ensure market trends are also considered. For instance, what are the national holidays? How do consumers behave? And what are cultural taboos that should be avoided at all costs? And, what regulatory compliance standards need to be put in place?

To truly provide a tailored and relevant experience both home and abroad, these data points need to be brought together and analysed within a wider context. Much of this data may sit in different locations across a business, but to ensure a seamless cross-border customer experience, companies must break this data out of its silos. This needn’t mean rebuilding infrastructure from scratch – for instance, a technology layer that sits atop the different strands of the business could connect relevant data points and communication channels, ensuring the business can make full use of its data.

  1. Putting data to use

Though 80% of businesses believe they deliver super experiences, only 8% of customers agree with them on this point. Varying customer demands and behaviour patterns mean one country’s ‘super’ experience may be another’s worst nightmare, but data holds the key to solving this problem.

It’s often said that data is the new oil, and businesses need to use it correctly to power their cross-border customer experience strategy. Historic, region-specific customer and market data is crucial – organisations must recognise the importance of using data they already have to guide their customer communications as they enter a new region.

  1. Flexibility to future-proof

Even if organisations can offer a perfect customer experience in every part of the globe, they cannot be complacent. Flexibility is key, and while understanding local culture, consumer behaviour and economic conditions is important when entering new markets, the work doesn’t stop there. Businesses must continuously pay attention to changing trends in the regions they operate in, as new communication channels, industry regulations or major events can transform existing best practice overnight.

For example, GDPR has transformed how organisations can record, store and use customer data – and was a major challenge for businesses leading up to 2018. It is highly likely that there will be further regulations changing how businesses can use data in different regions, especially as events such as Brexit mean the relationship between regions could change. Organisations must be flexible – able to change the channels they use, the way that they use them, and the way they use data to drive their customer experience, as needed.

Catering to a cross-border audience

Devising a flexible, future-proof, cross-border customer experience strategy can sometimes seem a pipedream with too many moving parts. It can be incredibly difficult to know the habits of every person in every different market and remain in line with regulations in countless regions. However, by collecting data on customer and regional trends and utilising it to tailor customer communications, businesses can ensure they are giving customers in every region the right experience. These preferences will inevitably change over time, as will data regulations, so businesses must be prepared to adapt too. By following this best practice, businesses can convince customers that they’re speaking their language.

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