Service Management across Diverse Cultures in North Asia

July 30, 2021

4 min read

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As one of the most diverse regions in the world, North Asia is an intricate melting pot of vibrant cultures and incredible people.

That complexity is part of the reason I love coming into work every day, because no two days, customers, or people are the same.  However, complexity is not necessarily a positive thing when it comes to service management. When it comes to experience, simplicity is the goal.

The complex needs of your business in Asia

Businesses - especially those from Western backgrounds – have historically struggled with cultural barriers when it comes to servicing customers across multiple countries in North Asia. According to a study of Australian business executives by PwC, cultural barriers were the second most cited inhibiter to doing business in Asia.

Customers in this region value experiences that solve their problems quickly, with an expectation that potential issues are proactively sought out and corrected before they are even raised.

Catering to these expectations are  made more difficult by the rich diversity of languages throughout the region. Of course, customers prefer to speak their own local language in each country, and it is expected that their own individual customs and the nuances of their culture are respected. As an example, Japanese businesspeople communicate with a deep, mutual principle of understanding known as Haragei, something that can be quite difficult for people who are not from Japan to navigate.

While Telstra’s heritage is proudly Australian, we have operated a comprehensive presence in the North Asian market for many years. In that time, we have come to understand a great deal about conducting business in the region and serving local customers. While there is no one-size-fits all approach, there are a few best practices that we strive to achieve.

Simplicity starts with the right people

Having the right people serving our customers with a combination of the right technical skills and attitude are critical components of success. In North Asia, that involves building region specific expertise that meets the needs of our customers. That is why we have a strong focus on building a team to have a positive and motivated attitude and who can develop long-standing, trusted relationships with our customers to support them over the entire service value chain.

Empowering employees by giving them the right tools to add value

We are passionate about good customer service; it is core to our objectives, metrics, and values.

That is why we are laser focused on supporting our employees developing their professional skills through initiatives like our Gallup Strength program that supports teams with certified Gallup Strength coaches to discover and apply the unique things they are best at to help develop skills in service management.

We also arm our service teams with the very best tooling, leveraging global partnerships to add value to our capabilities. Take our recent partnership with Telefónica Global Solutions, which allowed us to deliver a unique Application Programming Interface (API) that streamlined and automated our process support function for service enquiries and incidents.

It is an example of how we are constantly looking to innovate in the service management arena, empowering our employees and customers with a differentiated level of support. 

Bringing simple, effective experiences to North Asian customers

Noting the need for our teams to cater to a diverse range of languages, we have worked hard to ensure that customers are supported by local teams who can speak their language.   This includes setting up language teams within our front-line desks to provide in-region support for Japanese, Korean and Chinese speakers.

We have also tailored our services to meet certain country-specific nuances. For example, we recognised the importance of distinguishing between Japanese business language that uses Keigo (敬語) and conversational ways of speaking, which are different from a language and etiquette perspective. Therefore, we have armed some of our support teams with a bespoke translation tool, which helps them respond to customer enquiries in the right manner.

We have released our T-Connect digital platform, a fantastic self-service tool that provides customers with information about incidents, planned work, performance reporting and active orders. This is effective in reducing escalations, as customers have a wealth of important information readily available.

Having these capabilities, matched with a workforce that is engaged, passionate and knowledgeable, is ultimately what sets us apart in North Asia from a service perspective. We see customer service management more as a series of partnerships rather than issues to be resolved, with a focus on exceeding SLAs, adding value, and driving objectives that are specific to their businesses.

We accomplish this with a well-equipped workforce with a proactive attitude and a constant drive to improve the experiences of customers and ourselves in the process.