The moment you decide to start a company that serves international customers, you have to brace yourself for the challenges that come with it.
One of those is the issue of trust. While local customers may be willing to believe you’re legit, international customers usually need some convincing.
As every business owner will agree, foreign-based customers are naturally more skeptical about brands than local ones. And for good reasons.
For international customers, so many questions need to be answered first before you can trust a foreign brand with your credit card details.
In this post, we’re going to discuss a few things your brand can do to assuage any fears/worries your international customers may have.
Get an LEI code
The Legal Entity Identifier, or LEI code for short, is a 20-character, alpha-numeric code based on the ISO 17442 standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It is a global identification number that connects to key business reference information.
On the surface, LEI can serve as your international business identification number – something that proves you’re globally certified by ISO.
Customers familiar with the legal entity identifier will quickly understand that you can be trusted. But for those who aren’t familiar with the concept of LEI, it can be a different story entirely. You may need to stress that the LEI legal entity identifier is an ISO-certified number used to uniquely verify businesses worldwide. In case that’s not convincing, you can mention some major consumer benefits of LEI – like how LEI protects items from point of shipping to final destination. In short, with an LEI code, you can easily and quickly show foreign customers that you can be trusted.
Have an online presence
As an international business, it’s not enough to have office space in your home country. You need a globally-accessible office address, too – a place where everyone (international and local customers) can find you.
The best way to get this type of presence is on the internet. And it can be in the form of a registered business website, active social media pages, presence on international review sites, and all sorts.
For example, one of the most trusted review sites is Trust Pilot. Having a presence on this sort of platform where customers can review your business is a great way to prove your legitimacy.
Furthermore, getting press releases from media sites or sponsored posts from recognized bloggers can also go a long way in affirming your legitimacy.
Be consistent across all platforms
As a business servicing international customers, consistency is key.
Foreign-based customers only need a wrongly placed logo on Instagram, a grammar error on your website, or an out-of-service payment gateway to be turned off.
That’s to say that you don’t want to give them any reason to doubt you. The fact you’re overseas is reason enough to doubt your existence – i.e., are you real or not. Don’t stir the pot any further with inconsistent information.
Interact on social media
I know we already mentioned the importance of having a social media presence. Now, we want to take it up a notch.
It’s not enough to create profiles on Instagram, YouTube, and the likes and just leave it be. You need to make the most of these platforms to prove your credibility.
For starters, you can get internationally-recognized influencers to review your products or give your brand a mention on their pages. Also, you could make interesting posts about your brand that proves that you’re authentic.
For instance, say you’ve just renewed your LEI code status for the year, you can make a post about it on your LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram page. When a customer – who’s in doubt – comes to check your page, they’ll see that you’ve got an LEI number. And that you’re ISO-certified, which is a good way to assuage any fears they might have.
Showcase testimonials from international customers
There’s no better way to convince a foreign-based customer that you’re legit than to show them a picture or video proof of other foreign-based customers patronizing your brand.
Even if they don’t know these people, the fact they can see other people hopping on the train is enough to convince them to give it a try.
Even local-based customers hate it when they reach out to a brand and don’t get a response. No one likes being aired.
At all times, you have to be available to respond to customers’ queries, questions, inquiries, and other points of worry.
Responding late or not responding at all can turn a foreign-based customer off. While local-based customers may be willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, international ones may not afford you that luxury. Therefore, always ensure you’re on the ground to attend to customers’ requests.
Have relationships with credible businesses
Yes, you read that well. Having relationships or business dealings with credible organizations can go a long way in proving to foreign-based customers that you’re credible, too.
It’s just like they told us when we were young, ‘show me your friend and I’ll tell you who you are.’
When foreign-based customers find your brand name in the company of names they love and trust, they’ll be more interested in checking you out. Because they’ll have reasons to believe you’re trustworthy, too.
It’s that simple.
Mind you, being in the company of credible brands doesn’t mean you have to share a magazine cover page with Amazon or be in the same press release as Apple. It can be as simple as teaming up with a worldwide brand like Unilever to run a voluntary community project in your neighborhood. The idea is to get the media to notice your actions and your social media pages to reflect your moves.
Appear on local registry listings
It may sound a little bit old-fashioned, but the fact remains that local registry listings are still a thing.
If you’re looking to portray yourself as a credible, trustworthy, and legitimate brand, then it may be a nice idea to appear on a local registry listing. Generally speaking, B2B business owners are usually the ones that favor registry information.
If your international customers are mostly ‘businesses,’ you may have no choice but to appear on these listings.
Usually, registry information is curated and managed by the state/county government, depending on the system of governance in place. And much like the LEI code, the information presented on a registry listing can be trusted.
Don’t kick out negative reviews
I know how much negative feedback can hurt. I know because I’ve been on the receiving end of some. But guess what? As a business servicing international customers, you actually need these less-than-impressive reviews.
Why? You wonder.
Well, because you can’t please everyone. And that’s OKAY. Having a site testimonial page that only features satisfied customers can be a huge red flag for many people.
If you check any Microsoft community right now, I bet you’ll find negative comments and reviews. That’s normal. And your international customers understand this, too. However, trying to paint yourself WHITE and without blemish may do more harm than good.
In short, leave the negative reviews (provided they’re not too much, though) and watch the magic they will do.
When it comes to building customer trust, international businesses have twice the job of local businesses. But you need not be deterred by that. You chose to provide solutions to foreign-based users because you feel you have just the thing they need. Convincing them you can be trusted is as simple as staying transparent and maintaining honesty. Don’t worry; as long as you do that, you’ll be just fine.