When startups, scale-ups, and new economy companies venture across borders, hungry for growth, they inevitably face unique challenges in maintaining consistent customer experience (CX).  

New geographies come with cultural, linguistic, and regional intricacies that brands must adopt, respect, and become familiar with to resonate with local customers. Misinterpreting a custom or failing to notice a subtle language cue can quickly derail your reputation, especially as global customer preferences constantly shift amid rapid innovation.  

New companies eager for global expansion must move cautiously when scaling their CX operations, prioritizing empathy, awareness, and integrity. The alternative is widening the customer journey execution gap (CJEG), which represents a growing misalignment between customer expectations and the experiences that companies offer.   

Keeping pace without burning through budgets and exhausting resources becomes a delicate balancing act for expanding brands. So let’s explore the five most significant international expansion risks and their impact on the CJEG, providing some practical advice on how to deal with them effectively. 

Risk #1 – Language faux pas and cultural missteps 

When entering a new market, it’s crucial not to fumble the ball regarding cultural alignment. For instance, maybe your product or brand name is super catchy in your home country, but it could have locals elsewhere chuckling or, worse, taking offense.

Embarrassment aside, a mindful, diplomatic approach to cultural alignment is about speaking your customer’s language in every sense. Fail here, and instead of having raving fans, you might find yourself in meme territory for all the wrong reasons, ending the customer journey before it even begins.  

If you’re going global, get local! No one understands a culture better than those living it. Bring in local CX experts or build dedicated teams of culturally aligned professionals with deep customer service and support expertise. As time passes, you could also organize workshops and training sessions to dive deep into those cultural subtleties—after all, the details count.  

And, while you’re at it, don’t just translate—localize. There’s a sea of specialized translation and localization services ready to make your CX sing in any language. Even machine translation tools—like Concentrix + Webhelp’s Polyglot—take the effort out of customer interactions, regardless of language or geography.  

When it comes to brand messaging, allow for a dash of local flavor while keeping the essence intact. And listen—literally. Set up feedback channels to gauge how well your narrative is hitting home. After all, there’s no better barometer than the voice of the customer. 

Risk #2 – Regulatory and compliance challenges 

As you tap into new territories, you’ll face varied consumer preferences and diverse, sometimes labyrinthine legal frameworks. Compliance misunderstandings are costly and can tank your brand’s image faster than a viral tweet.  

Data protection in one place, employment laws in another, and stringent consumer rights to top it all off—get these wrong, and you’ll send a negative message to your potential customers out of the gate. New terrain, new rules. Every market’s regulatory landscape reflects its societal values and norms. Failure to adhere can signal a lack of respect or understanding to potential customers, widening the CJEG as trust erodes. 

These types of legal mazes are easier to navigate with the right partners. Get local legal experts on speed dial and sync regularly, or find CX partners that operate in the country successfully and can guide you through what you need to know.  

Also, embrace regular audits with enthusiasm as a proactive process of improvement. By doing so, you not only remain compliant but also consistently signal to your customers that their journey is guided by principles of respect, transparency, and integrity, which goes a long way toward minimizing the CJEG.  

Risk #3 – Automation lost in translation 

Chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) are great examples of CX technology done right, but the global expansion of this tech requires careful planning to sync it up with new customer bases.  

For every customer who accesses your chatbots in a new market, there’s a set of expectations rooted in their region’s digital culture. The heart of the issue is understanding. Tossing out chatbot responses without getting the local vibe can feel clunky, bypassing all those tiny, important details that make conversations natural. 

Over-automation can make interactions feel robotic and insincere, damaging customers’ trust in the brand. When brands lean too heavily on chatbots and AI, it exposes a rift between the human touch customers seek and the impersonal response they get. Maintaining a versatile human CX team is essential to limiting diminished trust in new markets.  

So, if you’re thinking about automation in new places, remember it’s not just about the words—it’s about the meaning behind them. Dive into local interactions, learn from them, and adjust your tools. And test your tools in the new region first. You might spot a few hiccups that you wouldn’t catch elsewhere. 

Risk #4 – Low-quality customer experiences 

When brands expand into new markets, inconsistent CX quality is often inevitable. Even new customers rely on consistent experiences, and any disparity can immediately tarnish their perception, making them wonder if the brand truly understands their needs. 

Service response times are integral to customer satisfaction. Delays or slow responses can leave customers feeling undervalued, especially when they have issues requiring immediate solutions. In today’s fast-paced digital age, waiting feels like an eternity to customers who’ve been promised instantaneous solutions. 

Adding fuel to the fire, gaps in service—whether due to oversight of regional preferences or unintended exclusions—are glaring indicators to customers that a brand hasn’t done its homework. Coupled with escalated complaints and feedback being brushed aside, this only exacerbates feelings of neglect. Customers might feel unheard and undervalued, believing their concerns and feedback don’t matter, making them feel sidelined. 

If you’re handling this well, review a few metrics to confirm it. For instance, customer acquisition and retention rates show how much attention you draw and how much interest you can maintain over time. High customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores are a testament to your successful integration of cultural and linguistic nuances. Conversely, low scores should rally the company to recalibrate.  

Lastly, generic brand interactions can further diminish the quality of the experience. Personalization is critical in any market, so generalized or templated interactions show a lack of appreciation that customers seek. Every interaction should resonate with customers, making them feel recognized and valued.  

Customer Experience partners as a catalyst for international expansion 

Global expansion is a thrilling solo adventure, but joining forces with a specialist customer experience partner might be the way forward. When maneuvered correctly, a partner strategy can elevate your brand’s CX in uncharted markets. 

An ideal CX partner should resonate with your brand, understand its ambitions, and be adept at circumventing those all-too-common pitfalls—like the cultural missteps and regulatory challenges we previously dissected. 

With the right CX partner, you’re accessing a wealth of talent and market wisdom, preventing technological hurdles and brand messaging inconsistencies. Then there’s cost efficiency, with your partner crafting strategies to fit your budget and maximize your return on every dime spent.  

Scalability can’t be ignored. With a CX provider by your side to support your expansion, you can continue growing and reaching new customers or scale back as quickly if things don’t pan out, eliminating the costs and risks of hiring CX teams in the new location. And with the fluid nature of global markets, the adaptability CX partners offer ensures your brand remains agile, adapting to shifts with grace and insight.  

By ensuring tailored experiences and acknowledging the market’s unique needs, new economy companies can prevent the CJEG from emerging, providing what customers expect from a new brand. 


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