There comes a time for most high-growth tech companies when they have to consider a global support strategy based on their total addressable market. Depending on the industry, there may be two primary considerations for going global.
The first consideration involves evaluating how your company is going to be closer to your direct customers and target prospects. This may or may not be necessary depending on your business model, but whether or not you choose to expand and hire “boots on the ground” internationally will at least be part of the conversation.
The second major consideration involves building your product or service for your international customers’ customers — the end consumer.
There’s a little bit of a chicken and egg problem here, but having an internationalized product or service is a prerequisite (and necessary investment) in order to be successful in acquiring new customers overseas.
One of the biggest focal points of expanding to support to an international customer base is creating a global customer service strategy to address consumer issues. These three considerations make building that strategy more feasible.
1. Live communication is tough, but often unnecessary.
If you are not physically operating in the same time zone as all of your customers (and not many digital brands are these days), you’ll need to staff follow-the-sun models for your team. This can be expensive, as you’ll need to set up three to four contact centers across the globe to cover various time zones.
Taking an asynchronous approach to communication here can be your secret weapon. This means that your customers will be able to contact your team, either in your company’s mobile app, on the web, or via email — and receive a response later (when your support team is awake). Your customers will be notified when there is a response waiting, and they can pick up the conversation wherever they left off. This is a difficult approach to take with traditional live channels when your consumers have to be online at the same time as the support staff in order to receive help.
Your brand can use a hybrid approach too, where you have some representatives available across time zones to handle urgent inquiries immediately, but most of the non-urgent communication can be handled asynchronously. This is both cost-effective for your brand, and convenient for consumers.
2. Automation can make your global support operations so much easier.
In addition to taking a fully asynchronous or hybrid approach, automation can help to streamline and support your customers during off-hours as well. Bots can be used to collect information upfront so that when your representatives do come online, they’ll be equipped with the information necessary to respond to and resolve inquiries quickly. In many cases, inquiries can be fully automated so that your consumers will be able to effectively help themselves — without a human agent.
A good example of this is when retail customers need to reschedule a delivery. There’s no reason they should have to wait around for local business hours when a bot can handle this routine request. This helps reduce overall global support ticket volume too.
Even if you are employing a follow-the-sun model and staffing accordingly, automation can also be used to ensure that inquiries are being routed to the correct representatives based on factors like time zone and language.
3. Language barriers are tricky, but by no means insurmountable.
Having a platform that supports internationalization is critical. Hiring representatives that speak 30 languages is not. Often times, bots will be equipped to support different languages, and can handle many of the difficulties associated with having a multilingual customer base. For those issues that cannot be handled by a bot, the platform should be able to detect the language that the customer is using and route the ticket accordingly.
This approach to global support has helped shape and define our product strategy for years, and we have a strong international customer base today because of it.
Largely because we now have that global presence, we have made the decision to begin investing more substantially in hiring overseas too. This Spring, we are opening up shop in EMEA to be where our customers are, and their input will help shape our product as we continue to grow and mature as a company.