Most bilingual call centers follow a universal rule for extending customer service: always be courteous. As such, customer service representatives must never be rude when talking with a customer over the phone, email, or live chat. While this general rule should definitely be observed, there are customs that agents should apply, especially if they cater to a specific consumer group.
If your business mostly serves Cantonese-speaking customers, here are some of the things that you need to know in order to satisfy them:
1. On greetings and introductions
Inquiring about a person’s health or activities is an act of politeness. When you move on to saying the customers’ name, the family name should be spoken first before the given name. Introducing people should be done according to rank and age—higher-ranking persons before those of lower rank and the older before the younger. In addition, it is customary to introduce a woman first before a man.
2. On appointments
The Cantonese people have respect for punctuality, so it is likewise expected from people they do business with. You should always be on time for all appointments, including calls. If you promised a follow-up call or an email response at a certain time, your customer should receive it at that agreed time or within the 30-minute “courtesy period” if you have to be justifiably late. When it comes to negotiations, however, customers take their time. The process may be slow and detailed, but this is to make sure that results come out efficiently.
3. On giving answers
When asking customers for details, your agents may have to read between the lines, as Cantonese speakers tend to say things without actually saying them. Getting a “yes” for an answer doesn’t necessarily mean agreement; it may only imply understanding. Similarly, “no” isn’t directly said; instead, customers may express difficulty or delay in giving answers.
These are just some of the practices that you may encounter when assisting Cantonese-speaking customers. Learning about their traditions and customs is a must because this is the first step towards understanding them, serving them well, and ultimately, gaining their trust and loyalty.