Multilingual, Multicultural Customer Service
On April 2, Shirley provided a solid overview of Tim Cook’s recent apology to the Chinese market regarding Apple’s incongruous warranty policies in China. The controversial mishap elucidates the global imperative for businesses to increase their knowledge, confidence, and skills for serving customers across disparate cultures. This perspective implores globally integrated enterprises to seamlessly integrate best practices in customer value with multicultural awareness so that consistent value may be delivered to all customers, regardless of cultural differences. Anand Subramaniam, VP of Worldwide Marketing at eGain Communications Corporation, dubs this process Multilingual, Multicultural Customer Service (MMCS) and outlines six suggestions to develop it: (1) assess the importance of customer service, (2) assess target markets, (3) assess the scope of customer queries, (4) train agents, (5) adopt culturally nuanced policies and practices, (6) leverage technology. Although there is certainly no magical formula for serving a diverse customer base, Subramaniam’s recommendations illuminate the fundamental need to understand differences and act on commonalities. Realizing and responding to these points of parity and disparity lead to real cross cultural synergies in the customer value sphere. However, easier said than done. Developing and implementing best practices to leverage cultural diversity will undoubtedly remain a necessary challenge in today’s global business environment.