Expanding your business to serve an international market is an exciting process that usually involves opening a branch in another country. To ensure that this branch accurately represents your brand and to prevent miscommunications, take these steps.
Invest in International Phone Systems
On your current phone plan, calling internationally is expensive, resulting in huge fees after just a few minutes. You need to be able to call your overseas branches and have extensive conversations and conference calls without demolishing your budget. As a result, you must invest in a phone plan that covers international minutes. Companies such as Ooma allow you to easily contact other countries. For example, if you want to call UK with Ooma World, you open the company’s app, dial 011 to remove your phone from the United States’ network, and punch in 44 to enter the UK’s telephone system. Finally, dial your contact’s number.
Ooma offers a variety of international phone plans depending on where your branch is, how often you call, and whether you’re contacting a special service number. Additionally, all Ooma plans include free calls between users, so it’s best to invest in Ooma accounts for all your branches. That way, you only have to worry about using international minutes when you contact vendors or clients outside of your network.
Troubleshoot Communication Barriers
A variety of communication barriers arise when you communicate with people overseas, but the most common one involves different languages. This isn’t a problem if your only branches are in the UK, Canada, Australia, or another English-speaking country. However, even though English is the most widely-spoken language in the world, not everyone knows it. At your overseas branches, your representatives must be able to speak the official language of the country they’re in.
Other communication barriers involve different social customs. If your representatives don’t understand the culture they’re working in, they’re likely to make communication errors that cost you sales. For example, in some countries, it’s rude to avoid eye contact; in others, it’s rude to make it. Before having a business meeting with people from another country, spend some time researching their culture. You don’t have to adopt their customs, but you should know which behaviors are impolite and how to avoid them.
Finally, if you mainly communicate with your overseas employees through email, text messages, and other indirect forms of communication, remember that tone of voice and body language are impossible to determine. Avoid using sarcasm, since that’s hard to detect without hearing someone’s voice, and reread all your messages to ensure that none of them are overly harsh.
Work Around Time Differences
One of the biggest communication problems is also one of the easiest to forget about if all your branches are in the same region. However, unless your international branches are directly north or south of your current location, you’re going to have to work around time zones. Use your phone’s world clock app to keep track of what time it is at your other branches, and keep the difference in mind when scheduling meetings. For example, if you have a branch in Frankfurt, holding a meeting at three o’clock Eastern Standard Time seems perfectly reasonable, but for your German workers, that’s nine o’clock at night. If it’s impossible to find times that work for all your branches, full-company meetings might not be an option.
Communicating with your work staff is hard enough when you’re all in the same office, so opening an international branch only complicates these struggles. By keeping this advice in mind, you make it easier to talk to your employees and prevent miscommunications from ruining your sales.