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The Impact Of Culture In Customer Service

By Hassan Elahi, Support Analyst, Marval Software

A few weeks ago, I went on a holiday to visit some of my family in Pakistan. I was hoping to come back with a lot of good memories, a nice tan and a couple of extra pounds of fat from all the caloric dense food I was planning to indulge in. All of that happened as expected, but I also came back with a new understanding of the importance of cultural differences - particularly when it comes to customer service.

When you work on a Global Service Desk, like I do, you come across customers from all over the world, with very different experiences, backgrounds and cultures. Most Analysts would agree that efficient customer service is based on effective communication. Your communication with your customers is actually the most important part of service delivery. At the end of the day, it’s all about meeting your customers’ expectations; but how do you know what your customers’ expectations are? Businesses around the world can have different standards and a completely different set of expectations. You may be offering customer service that excels one customer’s expectations, but to another customer it might not even meet their basic standard.

Here’s an example: when I was out in Pakistan, I walked into a Shopping Centre and found a very popular British Clothing Outlet, so I thought I should check the difference between the prices and styles. I found both the prices and the style of clothing to be the same.

However, the service was totally different. When the sales assistant walked up to me, the level of service that I was offered was beyond my expectations. I didn’t walk inside the shop with the intention to buy something but, because of the excellent customer service, I did. The sales assistant offered me a pleasant shopping experience rather than a purchase, which made me want to purchase something!

I’ve been to the same British Clothing Outlet in my local shopping centre and I never had the level of customer service that I did from the sales assistant in Pakistan. Not at all saying that the customer service at my local shop is bad; it’s just culturally different.

Obviously, this was a new experience to me, but for the average customer in Pakistan that would be their typical expectation of customer service. This experience made me realise that, when you are dealing with customers from all over the world, your version of how good customer service you are providing may not always be the idea of customer service the customer is expecting you to deliver. Therefore, it’s very important for you to understand your customers, their cultures and their ethics. If you do not understand your customer, your customer will not understand you, the communication will fail and the service will probably be poor.

Our smart IT Service Management tool, Marval MSM, provides access to detailed information about the customer and all previous communications, which helps me get an idea of their expectations and adjust my approach from the beginning. By knowing the customer’s profile, I can provide personalised service, which will match their standards and expectations and ensure they are offered a great service.

Working on a Global Service Desk means that there isn’t just one way to deal with customers, but many different ways. My job is to figure out those ways to make sure that I can turn that one phone call or email into a rich and pleasant customer service experience. I am committed (as any other member in my team) to providing an excellent service to each one of our customers, no matter where in the world they are; so that, when they go to another business, they’d expect that high level of customer service that I offered to them. It’s about creating a benchmark for others to follow, rather than living up to a benchmark created by others. And Marval MSM helps me set a really high standard indeed.


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