4 Ways to Get Your Multilingual Customer Service Right

Exceptional customer support is at the core of any successful business. Your customers expect timely responses around the clock. In fact, responding quickly encourages people to pay more in the future, reports a Harvard Business Review study.

Additionally, when dealing with global customers, your communication has to surpass language barriers. Speaking to customers in their language can help you build trust at all stages of the purchasing cycle, including post-sales support.

If you plan on taking the plunge to provide multilingual customer support, here are four ways to get your multi-lingual support strategy right.

#1 Hire native speakers as customer support agents

Customer service reps are often the face of your company. Your customers will have more conversations with the support team than any other department of your business. If those conversations are full of miscommunication, customers can quickly become frustrated and feel let down by your company. This makes it imperative to hire native speakers for customer service.

In cross-cultural communication, tone, vocabulary and cultural etiquette are all equally important. Local speakers can communicate more confidently with customers in their preferred language and understand the cultural norms of the region, such as the length of a phone call or how people prefer to be addressed.

#2 Customize the branding

Whether your brand caters to businesses in Singapore or soccer fans in Mexico, one must always strive to create a positive brand image. Customizing your brand for a multicultural campaign isn’t as simple as translating or repacking content into different languages. Your brand should speak to the customer and connect with them on a personal level.

When writing for a target audience, make sure to consider demographics such as gender diversity, religion, income, and education. This will help you create stories that resonate with your audience.

For example, Bondora, an Estonia-based financial platform translated their web pages into 24 languages. Multiple language experts localized tone and language. The result was a business expansion to 9 countries and the multilingual resources being accessed by 40,000 investors.

#3 Fix the website content, visuals, and user interface

Sometimes customers don’t want to talk to a support rep. They may be more comfortable navigating through the self-help options on your website.

Additionally, while running an SMB, your budget constraints may prevent you from hiring an international community of support reps. Fortunately, self-service, in the form of FAQs, articles, and chatbots are easy to implement. They work 24/7, 365 days a year.

A wise and cost-effective way to prepare your help center and content for the international audience is by hiring a localization agency that works with native translators.

For example, consider the versions of the Coca-Cola website for India and China. You’ll notice the difference in the contact page of both the websites. In the Indian version, they have added a local landline number and email address for contacting customer support. On the Chinese website, they give you an option to contact their team via WeChat.

Research the layouts of frequently visited websites that customers are used to accessing in a particular country. While Americans prefer a clean layout, the Japanese prefer their websites to contain a lot more information. Tweak the website design to fit the best-practices of your target geography.


#4 Use the right set of tools to support multilingual customer service

Multilingual customer service helps in attracting and retaining customers when you're selling across regions. By helping them gain more value from your products or services, you can turn them into enthusiastic brand advocates.

Customer service tools can help you keep a track of customer satisfaction, which may include collecting and analyzing feedback, handling queries, managing communication, and setting up self-service help. Here’s a list of solutions to support multilingual customers. You can choose the service options that best fit your budget and customer requirements.

  1. Team inbox: 72% of online shoppers prefer email to communicate with brands they do business with. A team inbox allows your business to collect emails from across regions in one place, and distribute tickets to the appropriate agents from there.
  2. Live chat: Live chat has the highest level of satisfaction as a customer support channel when compared to phone and email support. It's effective because it provides instant communication while allowing the customer to multi-task. If you’re adding chat support, provide an option for the website visitor to communicate with a representative in their native language.
  3. Knowledge base: Self-help resources appeal to customers who don't feel like talking to a support rep and can't wait for a reply to their email. Use this function for faster answers, better search visibility, and happier customers.
  4. Social Media: Having a social media presence is no longer enough. Your customers expect your brand to deliver quick customer service through this channel as well.

There is no checklist for providing stellar global support. It ultimately depends on building long-lasting relationships with your customers. You may not be able to afford an international community of support reps. However, by localizing your online information and providing tools for self-service, you can turn the seemingly complicated process of providing multilingual customer service into a smooth and efficient experience.

About the author

Ruju Patel leads the Content and Design team at Translate by Humans, a professional language service provider headquartered in London, UK. Translate By Humans delivers all services by certified native language experts. They have handled translation and localization for global brands such as Google, Nike, Vogue, and Deloitte. Ruju is an ardent traveler and enjoys experiencing new cultures and cuisines.



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