Many working on global software teams or those who provide IT consulting or app building services to U.S. clients may start their engagement with limited knowledge about their client outside the technical scope and requirements of the project.
If this is you, let’s see how you can get to know some simple things about your U.S. client (also known as KYC or Know Your Customer) before you even start the first call that will help you build context and relationship before you say HELLO.
Look up the Client’s Business Website, LinkedIn or Online Presence
Get some basic idea of what the client’s business actually is. What is the business’ personality? What is their language? I do not mean “English.” Of course, if the client is in the United States there is a good chance their website or online materials are in English- but what is the language of their business? For example, how do they refer to their customers? Do they call their customers patients, clients, customers, guests, or by another name? Pick up little tidbits about their language and business. This will help you go to the next level of customer service.
Note Down Their Address and Contact Information
I have worked with many developers who answer, “I don’t know” when asked, “Where is your client located in the United States?” In many cases these developers are not new to the project, but have been working with the client for months, and in rare cases, years. Knowing even small tidbits like this can not only build business integrity, but can build personal connections with your clients with ease and can help long term in other conversations outside of small talk (such as in negotiations).
Of course you may connect on Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts or another online platform that doesn’t require you to know their phone numbers or physical address, but knowing it can provide a lot of context to your client and their environment. For instance, you will get to know:
Formatting of US Addresses and Common Abbreviations
In reading US style addresses, you may come across some abbreviations you are not familiar with. A few of the short forms with their expansions are below:
To look up other street and building abbreviations used in the U.S., refer to the United States Postal Service Street Suffix Abbreviations list or the USPS Street and Secondary Units Abbreviations Job Aid listing.
The format of most US business addresses is something like this (keep in mind that commas and spaces are important):
Name of Business
Street number Street Name Street Abbreviation, (Suite/Apartment number)
City, State Zip Code
Example (address created only for example purposes, any relation to a real address is purely coincidental):
Good Home Furnishings
111 Main Street, STE 300
Anytown, NE 33300-4444
State names tend to be abbreviated into two letters, which are both capitalized. They can be listed without dots or with dots (N.E. or NE). In this case, NE stands for Nebraska, which is happens to have two time zones, Mountain Time Zone and Central Time Zone. To pinpoint a time zone, and check the time difference between India and your client’s office, plug in the US town name and your Indian city into Timebie.
The nine digit number after the state is a zip code. They used to only be 5 digits, but many are now listed as 9 digits with a dash between the fifth and sixth digit.
Try to Understand Their Business to Guess How Your Solution Helps Their Business
Your client is working with your company, your team and YOU to build their business. While you are providing a technical solution, this solution is helping with their company in some way. By knowing a little about their company, can you make any guesses how your solution will build their business? How will it help their business in a way other older or low tech solutions have not?
Trying to understand and apply some of these elements to your client conversations will not only build relationships but build your business acumen. You will get to know your own work from a different perspective and at the same time help increase your own job security! The more your clients like you and your company the more they would want to continue working with your teams (for support, upgrades, other software and apps) and even refer you and your company to other clients to build your company’s portfolio.
Feel free to share other small ways you have built the relationship with your international client to make the working relationship more interesting or easy?
Jennifer Kumar, author of this post, Managing Director of Authentic Journeys provides business consulting and targeted coaching to global, virtual teams helping them to build relationships across oceans while mitigating cultural difference to aid in flourishing business relations. Check out our signature team coaching program that builds your development team’s business and consulting skills or contact us to learn how we can help your business.
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