Doing business with a client located in a time zone ahead
Nowadays, internet and technology allow us to do business practically everywhere around the globe. While distance is no longer a problem in doing business worldwide - and that also includes employing remote workers from everywhere around the world- time zones may still be a problem, or at least a real challenge for those doing business with companies based in another time zone. A Canadian company like Textualis, for example, which is doing business with clients located both in Europe and Asia would find it challenging to match their clients’ working schedule… at the beginning at least!
The problems companies face and how to deal with them
Differences in time zones would easily affect business done between countries. For example, while in Canada the day has just begun, in Europe, it would already be around noon, while in Asia, it would be afternoon to evening, depending on the countries’ location. This would possibly make communication offbeat… unless you set up a schedule you commit to follow. Here are some tips in order to avoid the possible problems that might affect deadlines and communication, because the client’s satisfaction is key to a successful partnership.
- Keep count of your clients’ time zone. Although this might be difficult especially at the beginning of your business, you can overcome the confusion created by different time zones using different technology tools for your help. You can use specific tools (eg. a time zone converter add-on for Firefox, the World Time Buddy extension on Chrome, EasyTZ) that help you automatically convert time zones to find out what time it is in the country where your clients are based. And why not display it in your office as a reminder! Many companies have several clocks on a big wall to make sure every client is taken care of in due time.
- Choose a default time for your meetings. Avoid creating confusion for yourself or your clients by using the same time zone in all of your emails and conversations. Start by choosing a time for reference and use the same for all your upcoming schedules, meetings and emails.
- Pay attention to Daylight Saving Time. This is probably one of the most common and difficult problems when you work with clients from another time zone, as it is not universally observed. Not paying attention to DST might create two undesired situations: either missing deadlines or schedules, or standing up for an extra hour for the scheduled meeting, for example. In order to avoid such problems, you are recommended to check with your clients and colleagues to know whether they observe DST.
- Be specific about the time. Whether you are scheduling a meeting or setting up a deadline, when you tell your client or colleague about the time, be specific as to whether you refer to your time zone or their time zone.
- Find a common time that suits both you and your client. Especially when you work with people who are on the opposite side of the planet, this means that one of you would probably need either to wake up very early in the mornings, or to stay awake late at nights. Try to find a common point or to regularly shift, so that schedules are suitable for both of you.
A few words in the end
Although it might be very challenging to work with clients based on the other side of the planet, things can be made a bit easier if you pay attention to some things. Also, it can be very enriching for your team to work with clients who probably have different cultures and ways to negotiate.
No one wants to miss a deadline or a meeting, so paying attention to the time zone and remaining consistent by establishing the correct time for meetings helps you avoid confusing situations when working with clients and colleagues from different time zones than yours.