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Twelve Top Tips for Training an International Audience
Delivering customer service training to a worldwide audience can be a breeding ground for potential errors, mistakes, and disasters. Whether you’re 30 or 300, you’re likely to meet men and women, old and young, corporate veterans and new hires, local and foreign, married, single or newly divorced, and any mix of ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation. . With a group like this, you can offend without meaning to, insult without meaning to, and alienate without even trying.
Avoid painful mistakes when providing customer service training! Follow these twelve tips when working with participants from around the world during customer service training or other programs and you’ll find yourself with a focused, engaged, and harmonious learning group.
1. Don’t guess. Question!
Don’t treat everyone in the room as you or anyone else during customer service training or any other program! Accept your diversity in the room. Highlight the rich range of life and business experience this group can represent.
Ask participants to share about themselves in small groups. Start with simple questions: business experience, educational background, places he has lived or worked. As the conversation heats up, move on to current business issues: ask for their views on industry trends, entry of new competitors, products, technology or government regulations. Then get right to the customer service training topic at hand: discuss the course expectations, the problems they need to solve, the solutions they want to discover.
Finally, when the group is well-oiled with the report, ask the participants to share about their personal lives – family, hobbies, vacations and other special interests.
2. Speak very clearly and clearly.
Your native language may not be the first language of all your audience. Adjust your presentation style so that everyone can easily follow the customer service training.
Years ago I spoke to a large international audience in Australia. 11 countries were represented in seven different languages. Simultaneous translation provided for non-native English speakers. Energized by the crowd, I began a presentation of humorous stories, anecdotes, case studies and key learning points for customer service training. During the conversation, I was happy that the Japanese waiters were laughing at all my jokes.
Or so it seemed. After the presentation, a Japanese participant corrected me: I was speaking so fast, the translator couldn’t keep up. Instead of translating my customer service training presentation, he gave up and spent most of the time talking in Japanese about how great it was to see this American dude running so fast on stage! I laughed when I heard this report, but I definitely learned a lesson: With an international audience, speak slowly and very clearly.
3. Bridging the communication gap.
Some of your group may participate in a language that is not their native language. If their vocabulary or pronunciation is difficult for others to understand, you can bridge the gap by clearly repeating their comments and contributions to others participating in the customer service training program.
Go beyond the spoken word to encourage understanding: use graphics, charts, pictures, videos, physical examples, role-playing and other non-verbal techniques to get your points across.
4. Encourage everyone to participate.
Newcomers bring fresh perspective. The elderly have experience and wisdom. Local residents understand “what is happening here and now.” Foreigners have a “global” view.
Be liberal with your compliments. “That’s a very good question!” let each person know that it is safe to ask the other. “Thank you for your answer!” tells the whole room that it is safe to give an answer during customer service training.
5. Be experienced, not extraordinary.
Customer service training professionals are usually very experienced and well-traveled. They can bring good value to the group, but don’t highlight the differences too much. You want respect, not distance. A little detail goes a long way when connecting with an international group for customer service training.
6. Speak the local language.
If possible, use local language, customs and examples in your presentation. This may require some preparation on your part, but it can make a huge impact on your group during customer service training.
Towards the end of the Cold War, comedian Billy Crystal began a stand-up routine in Moscow and performed the first five minutes entirely in Russian. But Billy Crystal doesn’t speak Russian; he had memorized his entire opening act in translation! The Russian audience roared their approval and continued to laugh as he performed the rest of his show in English.
7. Avoid sentences that do not translate well.
What is “clear as a bell” to you may be “as thick as mud” in any other language. Avoid phrases that don’t translate well during customer service training. “Six of one, half a dozen of the others”, “by the skin of your teeth”, “straight as rain” and “chicken with your head cut off” may translate well in your town, but can cause real confusion. external anxiety. Are you “taking my chance”?
8. If in doubt, leave it.
Raise awareness during customer service training with your comments on politics, religion, sex, ethnic issues and humor. What is funny to one group may be downright offensive to another. There are plenty of things to laugh about in this world regardless of your group. Make a mistake during customer service training and people can remember it forever.
9. Triple check all translations.
If your presentation, workbook, and handouts have been translated into another language, double-check your word and sentence choices. Use a professional translator who is familiar with your field of work. Then check it again with the actual participants in your group.
At the Service Quality Center in Singapore, we use the phrase “Never Settle” which means “strive for continuous improvement.” But when we first took this phrase overseas, it was translated into Mandarin as: “Never disagree in a conversation.” And the phrase in Indonesia was “sitting”!
10. Mix up the group to increase participation.
Sharing experiences is one of the best aspects of international customer service training. But don’t count on the participants to do it themselves. Give the process a big boost by mixing up the group in a variety of ways. Suppose you have 32 participants. You can combine them at different times in small teams of 2, 4, 6, 8 or 16.
Make a random distribution by “counting” them with numbers around the room. Or have a little more fun! I often divide my groups by date of birth, number of siblings, seniority with the company, first letter of their family name, length of hair, color of socks, you name it!
11. Ensure time for everyone to speak.
Some nations are naturally more exposed than others. Make sure everyone gets a chance to speak during customer service training by building an attendance line. When everyone is in small groups, have the most senior member of the group speak first, or the youngest. Ask the women to speak first, or those who are far away.
Accept open participants, but don’t let them interrupt the conversation during customer service training. I often do this by having small groups appoint a spokesperson, then that person appoints someone else in the group to speak on their behalf!
12. Finally put them back together.
It’s great to get everyone involved to share new ideas during customer service training. But make sure you bring everyone back together at the end to prioritize key points and create new action steps. Real work groups (whether by function, country, customer or project) explain the relevance of your learning to work and define your plans for improvement and implementation.
Whether you have customer service training to deliver, a session to deliver or an important meeting to facilitate, these time-tested techniques will help bring out the best in your attendees – and you!
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