Have you ever felt disoriented while shopping in a foreign country? If so, you know how confusing that can be. Now, imagine you’re the merchant and you’ve got a customer who doesn’t speak English. How hard can it be for them to find what they need without getting lost?

 If we consider that 40% of consumers in non-English speaking countries will not make purchases from websites unavailable in their native language (CSA – Can’t Read, Won’t Buy), it becomes clear that businesses need to offer a bypass. That bypass is multilingual customer support.

Cultivating the path of least resistance starts by allowing your customers to explore and engage in the language that they are most comfortable with. In this article, we look at the three pillars of truly effective multilingual customer support.

Pillar #1 – Speed of your responses

an image of a young woman working in a support contact centre.

There’s no doubt that our hyper-connected world has bred a ferocious need for speed. One of the best solutions for the emerging need for speed is the implementation of live chat. Given the pace at which it operates, the rise of live chat is unsurprising. In 2018, 71% of business leaders predicted live chat to be one of the top channels for customer support in 2021 (LogMeIn).

However, the problem with addressing global enquiries at speed is usually related to language. How can customer service teams be expected to respond rapidly to requests in languages they don’t speak?

Hiring more multilingual CX staff might be one part of the solution. On the other, having to manage employees across different countries can be costly. Multilingual support tools for chat such as TextUnited’s free Zendesk plugin are not news for multinational businesses, but the speed at which they now operate might be.

Features like language recognition, translation memory, and brand-specific terminology management can shave minutes off customer response time. These tools can prove vital for customer satisfaction.

Pillar #2 – making your business available

While it’s true that live chat is exploding into prominence across the world, there are countries where this direct approach still falls behind. In Japan, for example, there’s a cultural inclination towards self-served support through knowledge bases and video guides. In Germany, on the other hand, you can expect over half of the customers to head for the hotline rather than the chatbox.

If you want to increase your availability, an omnichannel approach to customer service can cover multiple locations and according to your customer needs. The leaders who are still hesitant to the adoption of AI, are essentially missing out on its already established benefits:

  1. 24/7 Support – This is an absolute necessity for any business that can truly call itself multinational.

  2. Speed –Having AI that analyses, remembers, and tracks languages, as well as responds to customers in any time zone, can be crucial for any multinational business.

  3. Huge growth potential – Advancements in machine learning ensure that your AI only gets more efficient, and more aligned to your business values.

Pillar #3 – Localizing the language of support

an image showing the importance of language in customer experience.

Think about a conversation you’ve had with someone who doesn’t share your native language. Even if it was a fluid and natural conversion, you may have noticed a few peculiar words or phrases that a native speaker wouldn’t say. Even if a person speaks a foreign language, their own native language will often have a deep-seated sway in how nuance, idioms, structure or even humour translate.

That sway can be such a force as to lead to miscommunication. That’s why localization is immensely important. What does localization mean? Simply put, localization is translation on a deeper level. It is not only concerned with translating words into another language, but also with the delivery of those words and how they fit into the unique structure of native languages.

It takes into account cultural, political and legal differences as well as geo-specific behaviours. Localization transmits the meaning of the words in a way that is both culturally appropriate and has a much higher chance of connecting with the target audience. While we laud AI for its incredible advancements, its current ability to localize language lags well behind that of human translators.

Translation Management Systems (TMS) help you to develop a complete hybrid hub for localization. They use highly accurate machine translations for incoming and outgoing messages, with an option to utilize a pool of human agents to fine-tune the nuanced aspects of localizing a language.

It’s a strategy that Rosenbauer, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of fire vehicles and safety equipment, employs to great effect. Using a TMS to centralize their translation endeavours by combining machine with human translation, they made an incredible 75% reduction in translation costs and time to market (TextUnited).

The Key Takeaway

In multilingual customer support, speed, availability, and localization matter more than you could ever imagine. Together these factors make up the foundations of a successful CX strategy that doesn’t just answer enquiries efficiently but does so in a manner that forges long-term relationships with your customers. It supports the long-lasting, emotional connections that language can evoke between your business and your customers.

Delve into the multilingual customer support platforms out there. These tools help you build a complete multilingual customer service plan from the ground up, all rising from the 3 pillars we’ve mentioned here.

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