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Marketing Me! International Business Locally

I recently dropped off my dry cleaning at a local cleaners. When I returned a few days later to pick up my shirts, one was missing. Now the owner of the dry cleaner, who immigrated from Southwest Asia, was remiss to offer any explanation as to what happened to my shirt.

Her responses were:

"Someone else must have received your shirt".
"I don't clean the clothes here. Call this number for the service I use and ask for your shirt".

At no time did she offer an apology other than "I am sorry you feel that way." when I complained about the service.

When I said I would not be doing business with her again, she shrugged.

Bad customer service? In the U.S. yes. In this woman's native country? Probably not.

The culture of other countries often dictates that the business is an authority and as such, has the final say on what goes on when one is doing business with them. Residents of these countries are used to authority figures and institutions telling them "how things are going to be" and deal with it accordingly.

In the U.S., the culture is, "The Customer Is Always Right" and we have an infrastructure which generally benefits the consumer. At any time, I can go to the dry cleaner across the street and give them my business.

Further, in other countries, to issue an apology is unthinkable. An apology admits failure and embarrassment. The store owner would rather step in front of a moving car before she uttered an apology of any sort.

In previous generations, we were taught to prepare and acclimate ourselves for trips abroad to do business. We learned languages and cultural idioms (when to shake hands, bow and examine business cards, etc.) weeks before setting foot on an airplane.

However, in a rapidly globalised world and workforce, the cultures are now colliding in your backyard and home office. And as international heads butt in the boardroom, expect some changes to occur.

It is these types of changes which cause revolutions both at home and abroad. Be ready.

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