Yesterday I met a young Irish banker in London from Credit Suisse.
He explained to me that he travelled a lot around Europe to meet his customers and then asked me what I did. I told him I was a cross-cultural consultant and that I helped business people and companies to understand cultural differences and enable to communicate more effectively across cultures.
He said he found that really interesting and relevant and suggested his bank have such trainings. He said they needed it because first of all, what he does is mainly customer service and that in the past he had lost many deals because of possibly not having understood his customer´s needs and culture ! He also emphasized that understanding a different culture would enable him to have a better connection with his customers and show them that it´s the little things that make the difference in their relationship.
I was very pleased as he was very aware that showing his customers that he understood how to communicate with them and knew a little about their culture could give him the opportunity to close a deal.
Another issue he raised was language, he said that here in the UK and Northern Ireland focus was only made on speaking English because it is the language that is spoken accross the world so why learn a new one? He found that it was a little of a handicap as he would like to show his customers that he speaks a little of their language.
So the point here is indeed, cultural awareness is a plus when doing business internationally, knowing about your customer´s culture can open you doors and increase your success in business. And second, of course, learning a second or third language could be an advantage as a different connection (more intimate) would be built with your counterpart as language and culture shape the way we think. If we understand how our customer´s language is spoken and works we can connect with them and have successful business.