It’s old news that customer experience (CX) is one of the biggest differentiators of our times. Ever since the digital revolution opened up international markets to pretty much anyone with a computer, businesses have had to step up their game to win global buyers. As a result, CX has moved to one of the top spots on the priority lists of CMOs everywhere.
But CX isn’t any one thing. It’s an aggregate of all the experiences a customer has with your brand, your product, and your employees. It’s what their friends have told them too. In short: it’s your customers’ perception of how your company treats them.
Businesses that report on the ROI of CX measure their success by KPIs such as customer retention, uplifts in sales, net promoter scores, and lower customer service costs due to first-time resolution.
Global buyers demand customized experiences
CX isn’t easy to manage. But it’s even more difficult when you’re selling globally. After all, experiences, expectations, conventions, and perceptions are culturally conditioned, and can vary widely from market to market. (Microsoft has a useful report on customer service preferences all over the world.)
But localizing CX for specific markets is a practice any business with global ambitions has to master—revenue and ROI depend on it. The companies most famous for top-notch customer experience know this and naturally consider CX part of the localization remit. Netflix, for example, recently advertised a job for a localization coordinator with an ad that reads:
“The role is vital to the customer experience, as a localized experience is key to the equal access of Netflix Originals titles. We believe there should be no barriers between storytellers and the global audience.”
Your international content is your key to CX
They’ve put their finger on it: at the core of the localized experience is the idea that there are no barriers between your product and your customer—throughout the entire buyer journey. That you are just as accessible to any buyer in any region as you are in your home market.
But where do you start to adapt your CX to every market you sell in?
I would argue: start with your content.
Granted, some core elements of CX have nothing to do with content: price, quality, your employees’ behavior in-store, or your actual product itself (the more digital your business, the more your content is your product, of course).
But when you’re dealing with empowered customers who self-direct their online research and purchase, your digital content is the obvious place to start building a global, branded experience for them.
First, let’s talk about brand voice
It’s the essence of what your company stands for, expressed in the tone of voice you use throughout your website, emails, direct mail, FAQs, social media posts, and more. For example, if your brand at its core is aiming to be ‘professional’ and ‘friendly’, the way you bring that across in Japanese will be very different from Italian. Get it wrong and you’ll quickly create that “not for me” feeling.
Here are a few other CX-defining content touchpoints:
The Microsoft global customer service report (mentioned above) has loads of stats per country on how your international customers want to get in touch with you post-purchase, and how much waiting and resolution time they’re willing to put up with. For instance, did you know that 68% of the 18-34 demographic have stopped doing business with a brand due to poor customer service? That 90% of global customers expect a self-service portal, but 54% find that these portals have too little information?
(The Microsoft report is gated, but worth a look. There’s a lot of good stuff in there.)
Reminders, updates, and customized offers are a great way to show your customers that you know and care about them. But be mindful of the appropriate levels of personalization and how you address your global customers. In some cultures, extreme friendliness from a brand can come across as invasive, or worse, creepy. (Also, you’ll need to make sure you comply with local laws protecting data privacy.)
Where a product is mostly digital and based on self-service (as is the case for most SaaS and ecommerce companies), a lot of customer experience considerations shift to user experience. For example, your website in Arabic, a language that reads from right-to-left, has to look and function quite differently from your English site.
Online conventions such as names of navigation elements or the color of a shopping cart button differ from market to market. The key here is knowing what your buyers are expecting, and making it easy for them to find what they’re looking for. For great global UX, in-market testing is essential. Here’s a post about that.
Users are increasingly happy to find solutions to their issues themselves. But simply translating your generic FAQs and tutorials won’t give them that warm, fuzzy, “got it” feeling. Adapt your self-service content to each market based on the most frequently asked questions there. Your customer service records can help identify those.
More and more customers expect brands to engage with them and deliver customer service on social media. And the visibility of the communication puts businesses under pressure to react quickly. How do you handle that? Train a local social media team on the right ways to respond (again, personality and language are central here), define response time SLAs, and help them solve issues quickly by building a culture-specific knowledge base. (In some cases you may be able to outsource social customer service to a third party.)
E-learning and training content
Last but not least, another major factor in a great customer experience are employees who are empowered to help their customers. Just think of some of the things online shoe retailer Zappos has become famous for: sending flowers to a recently bereaved customer, and saving a groomsman from going shoeless at a wedding. You don’t create experiences like that without brand training for your customer service reps. Training content that has a consistent message across all your markets helps your teams engage with your customers while staying true to your brand. Empower these employees to deliver your brand’s personality in locally relevant ways, and they’ll delight your customers.
Ultimately, it’s as simple as this: if your product is a poor market fit, CX won’t save your global business. But if your challenge is to stand out against your competitors globally, a branded, well-engineered customer experience can produce raving advocates. Your global content plays a huge role in that effort. It’s a no-brainer, really: make it specific to who you are and the markets you sell in, and your customers will remember you for it. Just ask Netflix.
Know of any other ways content can affect CX? Tell us in the comments! Or connect with us here, we love to talk about this stuff.
Ed Hartigan is Moravia’s digital marketing and media specialist. He consults global businesses on digital content and marketing strategies that hit home anywhere in the world.