Customer Service and Cultural Differences


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Cultural differences can create particularly bad impressions when you interact with a customer from a different part of the world—or even a subculture within your own country.

Why does this happen? Culture is the set of assumptions, traditions, and values a community develops over time. Thus, members of a culture other than yours may interpret your behavior in ways that haven’t occurred to you, because of their community’s own assumptions, traditions, or values.

If you want to manage this risk, put some work into becoming expert on cultures that your company serves and expert at cross-cultural communication in general. There are some superb books that can guide you, such as Brooks Peterson’s Cultural Intelligence: A Guide to Working with People from Other Cultures (Intercultural Press, 2004).

A caution: Be sure to apply your new expertise flexibly. Individuals

don’t always subscribe to their culture’s assumptions, norms, or values: Personality or family background can be a more powerful determinant of an individual’s values. One of my strongest recommendations in all areas of customer service is that you think about your customers as individuals rather than as groups. This core principle applies to cross-cultural communication, as well.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Micah Solomon
Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant and trainer who works with companies to transform their level of customer service and customer experience. The author of five books, his expertise has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, NBC and ABC television programming, and elsewhere. "Micah Solomon conveys an up-to-the minute and deeply practical take on customer service, business success, and the twin importance of people and technology." –Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder.


  1. Dear Micah, congratulations for your article.
    This issue has particular emphasis today, as companies are increasingly globalized and in particular their call centers are now in “anywhere in the world.”
    I would like also highlight the dedicated work done in this area of knowledge by the author Gerhard Hofstede.


    AndrÉ da Silva Victoria


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