There are a number of key concepts to being successful as a business owner in China. Unlike the Western world, where we want work done quickly, don’t particularly value respect for others and simply want to earn the highest profits possible, in China this is not the way in which business is conducted. A number of principles are set forth and as a business owner if you want to succeed, you must abide by and understand these principles, in order to attain repeat business.
The Principles for Success
The principle of Guanxi is one of the main components which has held Chinese culture together, and relationships between people in China. Basically it means who you know, and what these individuals believe their obligation to you is. If you have a strong network, and know the right people, almost anything can get done in China. Even if you are new to the business world, the right connections and knowing the right people will help you succeed in the country’s online marketplace and any other business venture you choose to engage in.
This is another strong principle in their business culture. Individuals who have Guanxi among one another automatically assume reciprocity for an act, or assistance they have provided to you. Meaning, if you want to excel, you have to expect to do as many favors for the favors you receive, and the assistance you receive as a business owner.
This concept deals with relationships and how you treat others. If you put someone down, confront someone, put an individual on the spot or fail to give proper respect where it is due, this will result in “losing face.” This means a loss of respect and a loss of business success as well.
Today this refers to proper etiquette, treating people properly and showing respect to those who you do business with. Proper etiquette preserves honor and maintains balance in work relations.
5. Ke Qi
This is another important concept. It means using proper behavior, being polite and treating others well in business relations. Being arrogant or impolite will result in loss of business and loss of prestige in your respected field of work.
These principles of respect are not only expected in the business world, but in the Chinese culture in general. Chinese people feel that respect and reciprocity are expected in the business culture. It is important to maintain this level with all people you do business with. Whether it is an agent, your customers or representatives, properly communicating and treating all business contacts respectfully will result in more business, repeat business and will help with your success as a seller through Tmall.
Consequence of Violating a Relationship
The most obvious consequence is losing a customer. If you do not maintain a respectful relationship with your customers, you are never going to see repeat customers nor will you gain new customers to your site. Building a respectful, open and trusting relationship with your customers will result in more sales, and will result in them coming back for future purchases. By breaking their trust, mistreating them or disrespecting your customers in any way, you will realize a loss of profits, lower sales figures and will notice that new customers are not going to want to do business with your site either.
Respect is expected in the Chinese culture; furthermore, reciprocity is a strong relationship builder for businesses to maintain. It not only guarantees your business will do well through the online marketplace, but will help it grow in the local community as well. If customers feel violated, if they feel you are not respectful of their business or if they feel you are not treating them in the manner they should be treated in, it is going to result in a loss of business, a loss of sales and ultimately a loss of profits.
Violating Relationships with Companies
You may feel as if great customer service, respectful relationships and reciprocity only extend to those customers who are purchasing from your shop; but, this is not the case. As a business owner on the online marketplace, you also have to extend this relationship with other companies that you do business with and other competitors on your site. By showing you are respectful of other businesses, you are not only going to gain more new business, but may also result in complimentary business from other companies.
It is important to maintain a healthy relationship with all online vendors and companies. Whether you work with them, or compete against them, it is important to avoid harsh words or mistreating them through the online community. Not only will this result in your company being frowned upon, it will also result in loss of customer base and loss of profits for your business over time. It may also result in completely losing your business.
Due to the fact that the Chinese culture places such a strong importance on relationship building, reciprocity and respect, it is important to keep these things in mind when dealing with other companies that you come across. As a business owner, it is not only going to make you appear to be more credible, it is also going to result in attaining the highest level of respect from other companies and customers, and will ensure you are successful in the online store which you maintain.
How to Provide Great Service
There really is no one answer to this question; there are a number of ways to provide great customer service. One such example is making things right. If a customer is not happy with a purchase, if delivery was late or if there are issues with an order, fix them. Allow them to return the item for no additional shipping cost, or send them a gift card for a future purchase.
Showing your customers you care and that you are sorry for issues which arose will keep them happy. Even if they are not happy with the situation, it will show them you appreciate their business, that you want them as a customer and that you are willing to go above and beyond to make them happy.
Great customer service can come in the form of doing something you don’t normally do as a business. For example, if a customer has been shopping with your site for years and wants an item that is no longer sold by your site, you can try to find it for them elsewhere. Even though it means you are doing more work and it may cost you more money in the long run, it shows the customer you are thankful they have been a customer for so long and you want them to continue doing business with you. Not only will the customer be happy, they are going to purchase more from your business in the future and are likely to inform other potential consumers of the great service that you provide to your customers.
Although you may not always earn the highest profit or may even lose in certain situations, great customer service should be a top priority for you as a store front owner. It means more future business, it means more profits and in the long run, it is going to help you excel and earn the highest profit margins possible for the type of business that you operate online.
There is more than one way to show your customers you appreciate their business, and there are many things you can do as a business owner, to provide great customer service. It is important to keep these things at the forefront of your business at all times. Not only so consumers feel comfortable shopping with you, but also so they feel as if they can trust your business, and that they won’t be able to receive the same level of service and care, if they were to shop with a competitor.
Why is Good Customer Service Important?
This question is easy enough to answer. Imagine yourself as the consumer. If you walk into a shop and no one greets you or no one answers questions you have, are you going to purchase from them? More likely than not, you won’t. The same goes for you and your business.
You must treat customers well, you should be gracious, show them thanks and have a mutually beneficial relationship with your customer base. Especially if you have repeat customers, you want to show them you are thankful for their business (reciprocity) via sales, discounts and future savings for purchases they make.
If you don’t treat your customers well, why would they want to shop with you? Even if you don’t offer the lowest prices, if customers feel secure with you, if they feel you are an honest business, sell great products and feel as if you truly appreciate their business, they will purchase from you. As a business owner, you always have to keep this in mind and have to mold your business to give the consumer what they want, rather than simply try to earn the highest profit margins as the business owner.
Because you are dealing with such a large consumer audience through this online marketplace, it is important to keep these practices in mind; namely because you are going to be doing most of your business with Chinese consumers and Chinese agents. By maintaining the levels of respect and by taking the time to focus and build on these concepts, you are going to conform to the manner in which they do business.
Treating your customers well is essential in any line of business; but, in Chinese culture respect, saving face, reciprocity and maintaining the highest level of self-respect are among the most important business practices that you can maintain as a business owner. Therefore, it is important to keep these things in mind at all times when you are setting up a new business, or if you are an existing business that wants to do well in the marketplace.
The end result is going to be far better success for your online shop, it is going to mean more sales, more new customers, and in the long run, a successful business, regardless of the types of goods your company sells.