Five Ways to Satisfy Your Overseas Customer

Tips That Lead to Customer Satisfaction

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You can deliver the right product, the right service, the right price - but do you deliver satisfaction? The only way to find out is to follow up and ask flat out, "Are you satisfied with my product or service?" And if the answer is "no," you'd better have a plan.

In "Keep In Touch With Your Customer," we highlighted some of the characteristics of a dissatisfied customer. Remember: A complaining customer is a customer about to leave.

And when he does, he's sure to tell ten others about it! Figure out what went wrong, move heaven and earth to correct it, and hang in there and talk it through until you've restored, and even strengthened, the bond between you and your customer. Here are five steps to ensure that your customers are happy ones.

1. Understand them! Find out what they expect and deliver on those expectations. Have a conversation with your customer about what's on her mind about doing business with you. You might ask: What can we do to make you a lifelong, happy customer?

2. Widen your customer contact. Don't have just one employee contact the customer. Have several people who understand the importance of quality service and customer satisfaction reach out to them. This ensures you are fulfilling your customer's needs on a variety of levels.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate. The only way to truly satisfy a customer is to constantly stay in touch.

Use every available form of communication (email, Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Google+, Skype, telephone). That way, you always know whether things are working or not.

4. Measure results. Establish a process where you can measure customer satisfaction. What's important to your customer - Quality? Price?

Delivery time? The method of payment? Are more than one of these factors on their list of priorities? Your goal should be to provide your customers with the most competitive value. You want them to prefer doing business with you to working with anyone else on the planet. So you might consider polling all your customers on a regular basis, say quarterly, and instituting a policy that when a customer does leave (heaven forbid) due to "dissatisfaction," you survey them afterward - preferably in person or via Skype - to find out why.

5. Develop a plan for handling complaints. Yes, you'd be surprised how many companies don't have a procedure in place out of fear that it gives off a negative vibe. The reality is that customers who become dissatisfied must have a place to vent and be heard. Set up a system within your company to deal with complaints. It can be as simple as adding a box at the end of your email signature that allows customers to click on it and write whatever is on their mind.

What about the customer who hasn't complained but also has not reordered after several months? This doesn't mean there are no more orders to be had. It means you've got to take the initiative to find out why he hasn't returned!

If your customer never tells you directly that there is a specific problem marketing your product in his homeland, learn to read between the lines. Then rethink your product, or offer sales support, as needed.

We have emphasized again and again that your overseas customers are very special (No. 1). They are operating from within a different culture, so you need to take time and work extra hard to understand them and ensure that they are pleased with the way you do business.

You're virtually certain to make mistakes along the way, but as long as you continually show that you want to do better and are always willing to learn from your mistakes, your customer will forgive your gaffes and give you another chance. And remember, your customer will make mistakes too, so a mutual, generous give-and-take attitude will keep the relationship moving forward.

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