In our company, we work with many international clients and have learnt some good rules of thumb for working with clients all over the world.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 30 seconds.
Working with international clients can sometimes be difficult, and you need to be prepared for the obstacles that may likely appear. Here are some best practices (from experience!) for working with international clients.
1. Have a clear indication of what is expected from each other
When starting an international relationship you need to have an ‘expectation setting’ meeting. This allows for everyone working on the account to know what is expected from them and how to communicate with each other. Clear expectations and clarity of each person's role will help prevent confusion as you work on the project together.
It’s very important to keep each other in the loop and constantly update each other so nothing slips through the cracks. Communication and productivity tools are helpful for ensuring that everyone has an overview of the status of the project and allows everyone to be more productive.
Some tools to use:
Basecamp: This is great for multiple people working on the same account, it allows you to set up a checklist of to dos, and lets everyone see when what is due and what has been ticked off or is overdue. Allowing you to keep each other accountable at all times.
Google hangouts or Zoom meetings: These cloud-based tools are great for collaboration, with them you can have a meeting with anyone, anywhere in the world with a simple click of a button. With these tools, you can chat via messages, share your screen to present, and have an easy working meeting.
Slack: a great tool to capture conversations between multiple team members to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
3. Time management
This is probably the MOST important factor to keep in mind. You and your client are most likely be in different time zones which makes this process even more difficult compared to your other clients.
Be aware of how working with international clients may overflow into your personal time. Once the team has discussed the best times to have meetings or to call, you have nothing to worry about if you have set clear boundaries and expectations up front.
Here are some rules you should set from the start:
Set a clear expectation for response time on emails.
Discuss and agree on the best time to call and when is not.
Define the days meetings can be held on.
Set a clear expectation for response time on approval requests.
A good learning is the following: When something arises that is very urgent and needs to be addressed now, use the phone, and when it’s something that is urgent but can be dealt with in your time, email.
MOST IMPORTANTLY - Respect each other’s privacy. Have a look at this tool to check the time difference.
4. Understand the different languages and cultures
Working with an international client might also have some language barriers. Keep in mind that if you have to work strategically together, people process things differently based on their first language. For example, if you’re dealing with a French company you’ll be doing business in English but always remember they process in French. Therefore you need to make sure at all times that both parties are on the same page and understanding what’s being said and promised.
Also remember that each country has their own public holidays or special days and their spelling might differ from yours. Therefore a best practice is to set up a calendar with when to do what and a style guide with content rules. Understand your client and their surroundings, this will help you think of the best next step for them.
Working remotely and working with clients that are not in the same time zone can be the same as working with a client right next to you with the technology we have today. Make use of the key learnings and best practices shown above and be sure to use the different technologies available to enhance communication and productivity.
Get started planning your working relationship with your international clients by downloading our Marketing Calendar.