It was a while since I visited a new country for business till I visited China last week. "How they eat, How they do business" theme was running in the background as I went about my work. "Don't force fit anything", I kept telling myself. As it turns out I didn't have to.
I observed my colleague as he was dealing with our clients. He was respectful, friendly and easy to deal with. One peculiar thing I observed was, he never said the word NO. If client said something that he did not agree with, he would listen completely and respond with his point of view without saying the word NO. Sounds easy but it isn't, try it! My curiosity got better of me and I asked him why it was so. "Chinese clients are very sensitive", he said, "you always need to make them feel special. They are interested in your opinion not your skepticism." That was profound I thought.
We just one more meeting and then we had to catch a flight back to Shanghai. I was carrying my luggage. In most countries, I could walk-in with the luggage to client's office, finish the meeting and go to airport straight. My colleague said that is not a good idea in China. We kept a taxi waiting and kept our luggage there. I was curious again. He had the same answer. " Customers are always special. You don't want them to think that perhaps you arranged this meeting to kill time or they are the last stop for you or you might wrap up the meeting depending on the flight schedule than the nature of discussions." Makes perfect sense again!
I started looking for something that is unique to China and Chinese restaurants and designed to make the customer feel special. My search didn't have to go very far. Each chinese restaurant I visited in China had private rooms. You could button down, relax, stretch yourself. The serving butler had great opportunities make the customer feel special with every course! Its the same food, but special experience!
Remember, when in China whether its restaurant or boardroom, customers are always special!