Customer Retention & Loyalty – International Style

Does your international marketing include strategies and tactics for customer loyalty & customer retention?

If not, it should. Loyalty

Customer loyalty and retention are emotionally based in all cultures. Every culture and every country are different but there are certain emotional attributes that most human beings share. I have found that there are more similarities than differences but the differences and subtleties are essential to understand and they can be very diverse.

  • Feeling safe
  • Feeling cared about
  • Feeling happy
  • Feeling loved
  • Having their needs fulfilled

How people go about fulfilling those emotional needs is as varied as there are people in the world. It is extremely important that you know how you are going to help your customers and theirs fulfill some of those emotional needs.

When considering your international marketing plan it is essential to include a clear picture of how you are going to treat your customers and how you are going to instill loyalty in them towards your products, services and your company. To leave this out is to fail.

Just because a customer continues to purchase your products does not make them loyal. Giving them a loyalty card will certainly not make them loyal. If you do not treat your customers well and help them meet their emotional needs then they will only follow price or uniqueness. If you have a monopoly in the market then they will purchase your products even if they dislike your company. But once they have an alternative they will leave you.

A supermarket that spends the time, energy and money necessary to create loyal customers will prosper no matter what the market conditions are. Customers will go out of their way to shop at a market they feel loyal to. The alternative is to have a supermarket that customers come to only because of location, prices or unique products. In the long run, this strategy is far more expensive to maintain.

Just a few suggestion for making your international customers feel loyal to your company and products:

  • Localization – be sure you use the languages of your target markets in your marketing materials and be sure it is written well by a native speaker. Also be sure you have staff on hand who can communicate with your target customers in their own language if possible. If it is not possible then learn at least some polite words and include them in your communications. Using your customer’s language helps them feel cared about.
  • Know Your Customers – Learn about your customers and their culture.  If you are in a business to business company then learn as much as possible about your customers and your customer’s customers – their culture and needs. You are in business to help your customers meet their needs. Without them you have no business. You can purchase information about your customers from data brokers or you can learn from individuals who know your targets culture extremely well. The more you know about your target customers the easier it will be to serve them better and, in turn, make them loyal customers.
  • Proper Etiquette – Learn the proper business and culture etiquette of your customers before meeting or even writing to them. If you need help with this hire someone who knows and can do it for you and/or teach you how. There are many resources on the internet to learn the basics yourself but for the subtleties you will probably need some assistance.
  • Subtleties – there are so many cultural and emotional differences in people who it is likely you will need someone to help you in dealing with your international customers or you will need a great deal of experience of your own.  For instance, the body language cues of someone from the south of Germany might be completely different from the body language of someone from Bangalore India. Know the differences. I have known a few people who are able to emotionally ‘read’ people accurately no matter what culture they are from but those people are rare. If you find one, keep them close. They are worth their weight in gold. If you need one of them, let me know.
  • Foreign Faces and Accents – Some customers in other cultures are much more comfortable dealing with people from their own culture. If that is the case with your target market then you must have someone from that culture on your team who can communicate with your customers. Know this before you embark on a marketing and sales campaign in your target region.

Effective international customer loyalty and customer service strategies are absolutely integral to your marketing and sales and even how you develop your products. There are certainly more aspects to good international customer service and loyalty but this is a good start. To ignore this aspect of marketing and sales is to waste a great deal of time, money, effort and good will. Without good customer service and a focus on customer loyalty your international sales efforts will always be an uphill struggle and a battle with your competitors.

I tell my clients to “Know before you go”.

Contact me if you need assistance with this.

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