Germans are known to be among the most challenging customers. They expect high-quality products and fast and responsive German call center support services. On top of all these, they are price-conscious. One should go above and beyond to offer the best German customer service to win this market.
With all the challenges that come with engaging German consumers, one can’t help but think: “Is it worth it to tap this market and invest in German call center support services?”
This article will explore the exciting opportunities offered to companies bold enough to conquer the demands of the discerning German consumers. We will also discuss how providing German customer service can help businesses increase success in this area.
Over the past decades, Germany has been continuously opening up its doors to enterprises from all over the world. The e-commerce industry, in particular, has lately been gaining traction in the country. Amidst the pandemic, the long-standing economic powerhouse posted record-high B2C online purchases in 2020.
If you are looking to make a mark in the European or even global economy, don’t overlook the German e-commerce market.
Here are some reasons why you should tap this market and offer German customer service:
#1: Germany Is the Biggest Online Shopping Market in Mainland Europe
With more than 63 million online customers, Germany has the largest e-commerce market in the European Union. Almost all of Germany’s 82 million inhabitants have tried online shopping, including those who are above 60 years old. At the same time, 4 out of 10 German customers order online more than once a week.
In 2019, Germany ranked 5th among the Top 5 Largest e-commerce Markets by Revenue, posting a profit of US$105.3 billion. The country managed to increase profit by 14.6% in 2020. This performance is remarkable coming from a country known to prefer traditional shopping and local products when most economies are on a downward trend due to the pandemic.
#2: Germany Is a World Leader in Logistics
Any brand thinking of expanding in Europe should not overlook the logistic efficiency that only Germany can offer. Thanks to its geographical advantage, the country is considered the world’s most important logistics hub. Aside from being located in Central Europe, Germany is the only country in the European Union with the most maritime borders.
Additionally, Germany boasts some of the most modern transportation infrastructures in the world. For international merchants, this means increased access to more than 500 million consumers throughout Europe.
Here are other impressive records of Germany’s logistics sector based on the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index in 2019:
- Ranked 1st Among the Top 5 Countries for Logistics
- Ranked 4th Among the Top 5 Countries for International Shipments
- Ranked 1st Among the Top 5 Countries for Customs
#3: The German e-commerce Industry Is Projected to Grow Steadily
According to a poll conducted in 2020, 41% of German consumers planned to spend less on non-essential items, citing fears over the economy as the major driving factor. Still, researchers see a bright future for the German e-commerce sector, forecasting a record increase of 47% in volume for online retail.
The shift in German consumers’ behavior toward online shopping was largely influenced by the restricted movement brought by lockdowns. But according to the president of the German E-Commerce and Distance Selling Trade Association (Bevh), the positive developments in the country’s online shopping sector will likely continue even after the pandemic. Statista also projects that the number of German e-commerce users will reach 68.4 million by 2025.
#4: German Is the Most Spoken Language in the European Union
With more than 120 million people speaking German all over Europe, German is by far the most spoken native language in the EU. There is also great demand for learning the language in different parts of the globe. In fact, German is among the 10 most popular languages in the world.
For foreign e-commerce players, these numbers mean expansive opportunities to capitalize on. While German consumers generally prefer to shop domestically, they are slowly becoming open to cross-border shopping. However, most of them would shop on websites that are in their native language.
By providing German call center support services, you can position your brand to better engage a large population of German-speaking consumers based in Germany or any part of the world.
While business opportunities await international brands in Germany, there are also challenges. The biggest of all are the German consumers themselves.
Here are some important things every business and German customer service agent should know about German consumers:
Germany Is a Nation of Discerning Shoppers
Even before the pandemic put the world’s economy to a halt, German customers have been known to be among the hardest to please. They carefully weigh their options and love to compare pricing and offers before making a purchase.
One survey found that more than 70% of German consumers conduct online research on the internet before buying a product. They read all available information related to the purchase, including payment and delivery terms, before hitting the “buy now” button. It was also mentioned that 57% of them read customer reviews as part of their research.
German Consumers Are Notorious Product Returners
Despite having consumers that put a lot of time into research, Germany has a 12% product return rate, the highest in Europe. Most of the items that they return are fashion items purchased by customers under 30 years old. According to a survey conducted by Statista in 2020:
- 32% of products returned were clothes
- 16% were footwear
- 6% were bags and accessories
This behavior is mostly influenced by the country’s mail-order culture. Before the internet became widespread in the country, Germans have always been accustomed to receiving orders before paying for them. Even as the pandemic forced many German consumers to purchase online, it did not improve the German consumers’ return culture.
To mitigate the increasing product return rate, it is important for e-commerce businesses to provide detailed product information, with clear images and videos if possible. Augmenting your German customer service solutions with live chat support will also help.
German Consumers Are Easily Frustrated
Germany is known to be the most efficient country in the world. Therefore, it is not surprising to learn that the country’s inhabitants expect nothing less than the same level of efficiency when it comes to German customer service. A single bad experience is enough to lose their business for life. They can also influence others not to patronize a certain brand, as most of them rely on word-of-mouth marketing.
Build Client Relationships by Offering the Best German Customer Service
Germans’ buying habits are deeply influenced by how well they trust a brand. Once you have won the trust of German shoppers, you can convert them into return customers—even for life. And the quality of your German customer service plays a big role in that.
If you are considering expanding your e-commerce business in the country, it is important that your German customer service agents are equipped to do the following:
Speak the Customer’s Language
In a world that has become increasingly globalized, offering multilingual customer service is indispensable to foster client relationships. Speaking your customer’s language is imperative if you want to win their trust and their business. More so if you’re eyeing a market that is as demanding as the German shoppers.
As mentioned earlier, German consumers expect stellar German customer service. This includes providing personalized support in the language they are most comfortable with.
Most Germans prefer to interact with a live German customer service agent over automated means. In one survey, it was found that 56% of German consumers prefer to contact German customer service via phone and email.
When customers reach out to a German call center for support services, they expect their issues to be resolved right away. This is impossible to accomplish if your brand does not have trained German customer service agents or German-American customer service agents to talk to.
Display Strong Product Knowledge
Another way to increase German consumers’ confidence in your brand is to show strong product knowledge. As previously established, German shoppers are not known to be impulsive buyers. They plan their purchase and conduct extensive research ahead of time.
Aside from having a clear and detailed online product description, e-Commerce merchants must have a German customer service team that’s ready to answer any questions the customers may have about the product. Whether through phone, chat, or email, your German customer service agents or German-American customer service agents should be able to help German customers make informed decisions.
Understand Where German Customers Are Coming From
Germans’ buying behaviors are deeply rooted in their culture, history, and politics. Their prudence, for instance, is influenced by their restraint culture and pragmatic orientation.
Apart from language and product training, any business that wants to thrive in Germany’s e-commerce market must empower its German customer service team with in-depth culture training. This will put them in a better position to navigate the complexities of German customer behavior.
German Customer Service Outsourcing: The Best Way to Tap a European Economic Powerhouse
Now that we have established the advantages of expanding your e-commerce business to reach the German market, what should your next move be? Should you start recruiting German or German-American customer support agents? Or find an ideal location to build a German call center support services hub?
Well, there is a better alternative: SuperStaff BPO is here to spare you the expenses and stress of establishing a German customer service in-house team.
For more than a decade, we have been providing multilingual outsourcing services to different companies all over the world. Reach out to us today, and let’s further discuss how we can help you gain a foothold in the German e-commerce market.