Wellness, food products, gadgets and services are all in great demand in Belgium. Online shops are seeing large growth numbers as well. With over 11 million inhabitants, this market offers ample opportunity for clever entrepreneurs.
In this article we give you tips and suggestions on making your first moves on the Belgian market.
How to conquer Belgium
For businesses that are already active in bordering countries like France, Germany and the Netherlands, the Belgian market is irresistible. The many similarities and opportunities that Belgium offers make expanding into this country a logical step.
Despite that, in order to succeed in doing business here, it is imperative to take some cultural differences between Belgium and other countries into account. It would, after all, be a pity if those unwritten rules worked against you when negotiating.
The following tips will help you do business in Belgium.
- Gain their trust
Before you try talking shop with a Belgian, you will need to gain his or her trust. This holds especially true for the Flemish part of the population. People may be cautious and hesitant in the beginning, so why not take time to get to know each other in a good restaurant? You will grow to love this approach. After all, it is easier to forge a win-win relationship with a business partner you know, like and trust.
- Be patient
Trust takes time to build, and time requires patience. Do not expect Belgians to take a decision at the end of a business meeting. Often they need some time to think things over, which can be a real test of patience for hardened business people. All we can say is, fight the urge to talk numbers. One good rule of thumb is to postpone sealing the deal until your Belgian partner indicates that he or she is ready for it.
- Be modest
When you promote your product or service too enthusiastically, Belgians may be consider you as aggressive or even arrogant. On the other hand, since Belgians love self-mockery and putting things into perspective, you would do well to practice these qualities. By being modest, you will achieve a lot more than when you match the stereotype that may exist for your own nationality.
- Speak the language
Make sure you know what language your business partner speaks. Even though you may have been emailing or phoning each other in English, a few words in your partner’s native language can be a great ice-breaker. Be careful to make assumptions: there are French (Walloon) speakers with Flemish-looking surnames and there are Flemish speakers with French-sounding surnames. And then there is a German-speaking minority. When in doubt, just ask.
Whichever country you and your organisation are from originally, you are probably proud of your roots. However, a serious foray into the Belgian market requires a local branch. This can be a physical shop or office, but it may just as well be a virtual presence. Starting a Belgian company can have significant tax advantages.
A Belgian address is not complete without a Belgian phone number, so your clients and business partners won’t have to pay international call rates. Belfabriek makes it easy for you to get your own Belgian phone number – whether it is a Freephone, National or Local number.
A Belgian national number gives your company a national appeal, because it is not tied to a certain region. So such a number will appeal to both the Flemish and the Walloon markets.
Apart from projecting a Belgian image you will make a professional impression, which is important in this trust-based society.
How to offer the best possible customer service
Entrepreneurs who take their activities abroad, like to register a business phone number through Belfabriek. An important reason for this is our Interactive Voice Reponse-system (IVR), which offers them complete control (even remotely) over their callers’ experience.
Let us take a look at the extras that come with a Belgian Freephone or Premium-rate number.
- Pre-recorded messages
Make a great first impression with your Belgian callers. Welcome them during office hours with a welcome message or outside business hours with a custom pre-recorded message.
- Call queueing
When you are experiencing a call peak and all your agents are busy, this functionality will place callers in a queue. In order of arrival, they will then be connected to agents that become available. A relaxing tune and an intermittent notification of the queue length will keep your callers happy.
When that call queue is too long or when a Belgian client calls outside openinghours, the Voice2email option allows people to leave a message. The recording of this message will be sent to your email address, so you can take immediate action i required.
- Virtual receptionist
Naturally, you will want to offer your callers the choice between a Dutch and a French language service. A virtual receptionist lets them choose which the agent or department they would like to speak to. A virtual receptionist can save you the expenses of one or more receptionists.
- Call recording
The call recording functionality allows you to record each and every call that comes in through your Belgian business phone number. Thanks to call recording you can control the quality of your service and set new training goals.
Apart from these extras, Belfabriek gives you access to detailed call statistics. In your online dashboard, called My Belfabriek, you can view which regions of the country people call from, what the duration of calls is and how long the call queues are. These statistics are shown in real-time, which means you can anticipate trends and take immediately action.
Claim your Belgian business phone number now
If you are serious about doing business in Belgium, of course you’d want a Belgian servicenumber, whether it is a toll-free or national Belgium number. Belfabriek offers a unique set of free extra features to configure your phone number, helping you gain the trust and sympathy of your Belgian business partners and customers.
Our friendly staff is standing by to assist you in setting up your number.
If you have questions about Belgian servicenumbers or would like to register your own Belgian phone number, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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