Building strong client relationships and creating an amazing experience are top priorities for Metis Communications. Although best practices to create great client experiences span borders, there are a few additional processes you should implement when working with international contacts.
You may find yourself brewing a pot of coffee extra early for status calls or pouring an evening cup for late night brainstorms. But through our experience with international clients, we’ve identified four key ways that can help work go as smooth as possible, ensuring a productive and enjoyable process for all involved.
Lock down the logistics
At the beginning of any client relationship, it’s important to discuss logistics. Start by determining the best protocol for scheduling meetings, software or project management tools they rely upon as well as preferred modes of communication such as email, phone calls or texts.
Keep in mind your client organizations may have standardized on particular communication tools, like Skype Business, to conference with team members across the globe. Make it easy for them and adapt when possible.
Establish time zone rules
Working across different time zones and with executives who have busy travel schedules can make coordinating meetings difficult. To eliminate potential stress, determine whether meetings or deadlines will be set to their local time or yours. Once set, be sure to follow that standard going forward. Using sites such as Every Time Zone or Time Zone Converter, or adding new cities to the World Clock feature on your cell phone, can help you keep your time zones straight.
Determine primary and secondary contacts
Confirming who your primary and secondary contacts are is imperative when working with international clients. Often times a good PR opportunity will have a small window of time, and when you are already dealing with time zone differences, it can make scheduling interviews or providing quotes more challenging. Further, it can result in missed opportunities.
Knowing who the best spokesperson is to contact during specific days or windows of times can help immensely and produce better results.
Understand the work week and adapt
Not all countries and companies work a traditional Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. week. Learn what your client’s typical week looks like and adjust accordingly.
Keep in mind, European countries have a different work culture than most U.S. based companies. For example, the French government instituted a policy that allows employees to disconnect from work email while they’re not in the office in order to limit the amount of time that activity infringes upon their leisure time. It’s important to clearly understand your client’s typical work week and plan meetings and deadlines accordingly.
The same holds true for holidays: Understand what’s coming or you might not be able to reach contacts when you need them most.
Iron out parameters and expectations
As always, it’s important to establish media relations goals and expectations at the start of any client relationship. However, when it comes to international clients, it may require additional conversation.
You’ll need to determine if your media relations strategy should focus just on the U.S. or if it should span across a variety of countries or regions. If your client is a large international company, you may find yourself tag teaming media efforts with global communication teams or even other agencies based in a particular geography.
Coming up with a clear media strategy and understanding from the start will help make execution easier and prevent opportunities or tasks from slipping through the cracks.
Improve your global positioning
Although working with international clients may require additional logistics or a change of communications methods, your team will grow through the experience.
That’s good. After all, learning new skill-sets and developing an understanding of how international companies operate will enhance both your organization and staff. And improved “global positioning” could be just the ticket that leads to more and greater opportunities.
Want to learn more tips to build strong client relationships? Check out Good Client Relations Start With Good Counsel - Stop Blindly Saying ‘Yes’.