How to build successful customer relationships on a global scale
There has never been a greater desire in the business world to scale beyond national boundaries.
It’s not surprising. Technologies such as the internet, smartphones, and apps make it easy to sell products and services globally while entering new markets can exponentially increase your pool of prospective customers overnight.
The road to scaling in a new country can be long and arduous, filled with regulatory potholes and prohibitive expenses that can bring the whole venture to a crashing halt.
But it doesn’t have to be. Read on to learn how to create a cost-effective global presence that will let you build successful relationships with your customers, wherever they are.
1. Choose your countries
Where do you need a local presence? Usually, the answer to this will be in the countries on your roadmap, the ones where you believe there to be the biggest prospective audience for your products or services.
But depending on your business and what you’re already doing in the region, the extent of this presence can vary dramatically, from a single virtual phone number for sales inquiries or customer support, all the way through to a full physical presence with offices and operations.
Think about what the minimum presence you need to achieve your goals in the new market looks like. It might be that you don’t need boots on the ground at all.
2. Find your voice
However big a footprint you need in a given country, voice should be one of the first things you consider.
Using SIP trunks, you can create a local presence on demand, so you are ready to receive sales inquiries and provide support to existing customers in the area before the ink on the lease agreement for that new shared office space has had time to dry.
As you scale your physical presence, the beauty of SIP trunking solutions is that they scale with you. All the way to the point when you are ready to forego traditional carriers and the headaches of the PSTN entirely: in favor of a voice and messaging stack that fully replicates legacy telco functionality (including the ability to make domestic calls in a country halfway around the world), with the added flexibility and cost-saving benefits that come from moving your comms to the cloud.
3. One global network
As you probably know already to the detriment of your personal health, maintaining a global voice profile has traditionally meant arranging contracts with carriers and investing heavily in onsite infrastructure in every country.
That’s before even contemplating the need for staff on the ground. Before you’ve got started, you’re already facing huge expenses as a result of managing separate voice and data networks.
SIP trunk providers can handle all your voice traffic and ensure that it is carried seamlessly between your data network and the national telecoms infrastructure in any country you need to find your voice.
The cost-savings that come from consolidating to a single network can be immense. And for your end-users and customers alike, the quality of VoIP services is now at the point that it is indistinguishable from traditional carriers.
With the right provider, you can get yourself a local DID number in many flavors: geographic, national, toll-free, mobile. Receive calls from your customers and dial them just the same as if you had got the number from a traditional carrier in that country.
For the customer or end-user, the experience in terms of audio quality and latency is exactly what they’ve come to expect when using their phone.
If you choose a provider that offers the ability to make domestic, as well as international calls, you will be able to phone your customers and the number will present locally in caller ID, without the country code. A small thing, but one that improves answer rates by 4x.
5. Respect the law
The ‘think globally, act locally’ mantra should also extend to dealing with the telecoms regulations peculiar to each country you enter. “It’s a lack of understanding of the legal and cultural environment that leads to most failures,” Shawn Mahoney, managing director of the EP China consulting group, told CNBC, talking specifically about the high profile names who’ve floundered trying to enter China.
There are many less-than-reputable VoIP solutions out there circumventing some of these regulations in the name of cost-saving and expediency – something known as grey routing.
This often takes the form of a SIM box, an unsanctioned VoIP gateway that uses multiple SIM cards to connect to the PSTN. These are most prevalent in countries where the local regulatory environment presents greater challenges to VoIP providers.
But the damage using grey or black routes can do to your brand and business should not be underestimated. All it takes is a SIM card to run out of credit or a SIM Box to be closed down and you’ll immediately lose your lines of communication.