I recently watched a business show on global expansion of the fast food industry that had some interesting observations about the differences in customer experience management approaches that are necessary in different cultures. They explained in detail how KFC, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart had expanded into Asia.
Having worked with global clients, I know all too well that customer service expectations, standards and even monitoring programs must be carefully crafted to meet the specific nuances of each global market.
All to often we (as Americans) assume that because we do something a specific way that everyone else will adapt to (or adopt) our methods.
Cultural influences are incredibly strong and must be considered carefully and respectfully. As this business show demonstrated when it reviewed how the first drive thrus in Asia initially failed.
The Chinese culture did not adapt well to the concept of driving through to pick up their meal. They would order their meal at the voice kiosk, and then park their car and go inside to pick it up!
Since the goal of the fast food restaurant was to maximize throughput and delivery performance, they needed to find ways to gently guide and encourage customers to use the drive thru (a first step was to have the employee at the window lean out and dangle the bag so the customer could see their meal in front of their car and would then drive toward it).
They needed their customer experience management to integrate with their customers’ expectations.
Another example was that Wal-Mart needed to alter their merchandising model to include cooked poultry. This was an important staple to Asians. Their first attempt at offering roasted chickens was fraught with issues related to not enough product, too few staff, and overwhelming demand.
In fact, the lines were so long, so demanding that they pushed against the glass of the warming ovens and broke them!
Alterations to store design, merchandising, staffing and product preparation and delivery needed to be made to master customer experience management differences here as well.
The lesson learned here is that we are in a global economy and we need to carefully consider how to implement our services, or sell our products, in a considerate way that respects foreign cultures and unique market nuances.
The US has to be careful not to be knows as the “Bull in the China Closet” and just railroad into new territories. It won’t work and both the brand and bottomline will suffer. A carefully crafted approach to customer experience management is called for that honors these distinctions across cultures.