What do your customers think of you? – You’re Speaking my Language?

Sometimes, when my German helper, Dirk, is gone (again on holiday, he has more of them than “the boss” does), I help our German customers. As we sell “tech” products, I assume most of them can read English well enough, like I understand German messages ~90%, even without Google translate.

Normally, my responses to customers is

“Hello Mike,
bla bla”

When a German question comes in, I change it to

“Hallo Herr HisLastName,
And that’s all the German I know. If you don’t understand my answer below, please
email dirk@gdpsoftware.com – he does German support, but is on holiday now.
He will probably answer later today, when he has internet connectivity”.

(oh boy, they love us for our support).

By now, Dirk has corrected me often enough. So here are a few tips when you try to talk with German customers.

My name is NOT Mike
NEVER use first names when talking to German customers. ONLY when THEY start using your first name, you are safe.

I am not a little girl
Fraulein/Fräulein? This is actually what I learned in school, then again, schools were made of wood at the time. In English this would be
“Hello Female who has never been married”…
Use “Sehr geehrte Frau” instead.

Make sure you read my previous posts as well, somewhere I talk about the difference between Sie and Du, quite important for the German market…

For German customers (and I guess most potential customers), you make a great impression if your “hello” is in their language. Show that you care and they will forgive you any mistakes in the rest of your email.

Like when talking to Americans, make sure to *thank you very much for your question* – besides being polite, Germans and Americans just expect it. If you don’t thank them, they may think you’re angry.

All countries have their own rules. You can not know them all. When you have finished translating your program and website to Swahili, make sure you have a Swahilian guy to do part time support.

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