Country Briefings: Mastering American Customer Service Expectations

The technology outsourcing industry is booming. The appetite to develop better solutions for businesses and consumers stands at the highest point in years.

The Challenge:  Our client, a leading provider of IT infrastructure services had been commissioned to deliver Service Desk support to stores located US-wide for a world-leading sports brand. The services would be delivered by their multi-linguist staff based in Hungary.

Babel was commissioned to provide US Culture & Customer Service skills training as part of the intensive on-boarding prior to the go-live date. Their Service Desk Team Leader briefed us that “In an ideal world and knowing customer expectations, we need to focus on US cultural details, way of thinking, expectations, how they react, how to talk to them and understand different accents and phrases”.

Alternative Description
Alternative Description

Our Solution:  Our programme was designed to examine firstly the American business mind-set. Topics included the influence of history, politics, economy and religion on the USA and the differences that exist from region to region.

We reviewed core American values such as the American Dream, work ethic, frontier mentality, equal opportunity, individualism and self-reliance, freedom, democracy, patriotism, informality and reward for achievement.

The participants then discussed their previous experiences of American service expectations. We offered advice for the importance of courtesy, hospitality and timeliness, the language of customer interactions and especially choosing your words, tone, pitch and levels of directness wisely.

During this session, the participants heard common examples of business American jargon, the use of politically correct language and common expressions in order to avoid any action being misconstrued or accidentally causing offence or confusion.

The participants also practised role-plays for creating positive and negative first impressions. They were coached on how to ‘break the ice’ and establish rapport, make small talk, know when not to talk, use humour carefully, promote active listening skills and how to apologise effectively.

Importantly, they were also offered golden rules for the use of “Global English” for telephone, voicemails and Emails.

The Result:

Since that time, our client’s Hungarian office has grown to over 500 colleagues in different professionals areas supporting a range of diverse clients. We are delighted, in some small way, to have contributed to the success of their support to American end users. The participants told us their training had helped them “to phrase things in a way that US clients understand. Now I appreciate that there are some things here in the EU that US citizens never use so cannot understand (like A4 paper size)”. They also felt they could “deal successfully with situations emerging from cultural differences within the USA”.

“A better understanding of the value system of my customers that make me better at helping them with their problems. We also covered a lot of ground where I was afraid I could be accidentally impolite so now I know what I have to be aware of”.

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