Best Practices for Working with International Customers

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Cloud-based software is changing the way people can operate. If you have an internet connection and a smart device, mobile or physical computer, the necessity of traveling to the office and punching in is a thing of the past.

This flexibility can give an organization new opportunities for providing services for customers across the globe, and who doesn’t want to improve profitability?

After working with international customers for the better part of the last ten years, I’ve come to acquire some best practices for working with international customers. More often than not, these practices involve:

  • A need to learn and understand regulatory differences; and,
  • A clear emphasis on project management that recognizes the importance of setting appropriate expectations and establishes clear communication.

External influences can always impede a project’s likelihood of success. As a consultant, it is imperative still to consider these factors. And while it can be common to make assumptions for day-to-day operations, it is never a bad idea to ask more questions. Some factors to consider include:

  • Taxation
  • Procedural or supply chain regulations
  • Labor Laws
  • Holidays and, in some cases, workweek schedules.

The significance of project management can make or break a project’s likelihood of success. When working with customers that are not in your region, a project manager’s role can be that much more challenging. With scheduling limitations, possible lack of frequency, and visibility into all tasks, and people can all test. The managers’ involvement in communication, coordination, and delegation. Remember: a major risk that a manager must always be wary of is the fine line of micromanaging.

Accommodate one’s time to meet the client, whether it be a time zone difference or a limited schedule, and ensure the necessary people are always available. These people can vary from upper management and decision-makers to the hands-on employees directly using the system.

As limited availability into consideration, communication is the most critical skill one would need. Without being able to check in regularly or ensure continuous progress, the necessity to communicate and constantly provide updates, whether it be with the scheduled calls or not, is vital. From these engagements, a consultant or manager should be able to find out which resources are needed, which are reliable and which are capable of executing tasks without giving that “micromanaging” impression. Some of these indicators can include contacts that can explain an end to end process,  produce documentation, whether it be a design, a manual, or the ability to explain the requirements. Punctuality and responsiveness are essential.

Dealing with customers, both local and international, can always be tricky. It is important to set the tone from the beginning. Consider who will be the primary sources of contact in both parties and make sure they are responsible for maintaining the flow of information. The standard rule for most IT systems is the 80-20 approach, where 80% of companies’ processes are similar to those within the same vertical. It is the 20% that makes your organization different or unique. Making sure we, the consultants can emulate that to our customers’ satisfaction is what makes the job that much more interesting, challenging and rewarding.

The best outcome one could ask for from these types of engagements is that given a project’s success it will trickle into unforeseeable opportunities. With the internet as robust and accessible as it is these days and with how dependent we are on technology, all one needs to work is a computer and an internet connection.

Big Bang Thinks Global

With headquarters in Montreal, Canada, and offices in Paris, Mauritius, and the USA, Big Bang consultants have the global reach and expertise. Our global presence has us serving customers in multiple time zones and languages, and we hold a unique position to support you in your international expansion. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help your organization with international business, please contact us.

Michael Zelikovic

Customer Solution Executive
Michael’s consulting expertise and experience span across many industries, with specialties in Professional Services, Warehouse & Distribution, and Manufacturing. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Technology Management and is Mavenlink Certified. His experience has had him acting as a one-person team supporting 500 employees in 6 countries, levels 1 through 3 support. As such, he brings a wealth of global perspective to Big Bang. Michael says that people turn to him when they’ve run out of options. We say…

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