Realistically, a company today can have customers from all over the world. Going global does have some caveats though, the most obvious being the need to speak to your customers in their native language.
English is often seen as the lingua franca for international business, but the truth is that customers prefer their native tongues. A survey from Common Sense Advisory shows that 72% of customers are more likely to buy a product or service if they have information on it in their own language, and 42% of customers in the EU will never buy a product that isn’t in their own language.
Meanwhile, the need to provide proper customer service to these customers is equally important. A study by the ICMI shows that 86% of contact centers have non-English-speaking customers, and of the centers that offered multilingual options, 72% said that offering native language support improved customer satisfaction and brand loyalty, while 58% said that their internal operations, productivity and efficiency improved when they used translation services.
Providing support in a customer’s native language is invaluable, and the good news is that doing so is fairly easy and inexpensive. Many contact centers don’t get enough volume to justify hiring an entire department of multilingual agents, but you don’t necessarily have to.
Here are three ways that you can easily integrate customer service in any language.
1. Offer Professional Translations for Self-Support
Call translation services have been used for a long time in call centers, but most contact centers today prefer to transfer as much volume to other channels for self- support, like product pages and FAQs. A study by Nuance shows that 67% of customers prefer self-support over talking to a representative.
By using professional translation services like Gengo or Unbabel, you can offer very cost-effective tools for self-service, with a level of quality far above that of Google Translate. Pricing can be as low as $.06 to $.12 per word, and that translates an FAQ chock-full of information at just $10 per page.
2. Use Google Translate for Chats and Emails
Consider providing a chat support line for multilingual customers. Google Translate is capable of translating text conversations quickly, if not fluently. While the translation is rarely perfect, customers tend to appreciate the effort in talking with them in their native tongue.
By properly setting the expectation that you are using a translation tool and including both responses in English and in the translated native language, you can create a much better rapport than if you just stuck to English.
The key is to train your agents to simplify: translation tools like Google Translate can easily translate sentences with a simple structure, so once agents get the hang of conversing in simple sentences the results are much more dynamic than you’d think. It works well both in real-time chats and in email replies.
3. Provide a Virtual Assistant
Sometimes the most effective approach is a combination of two methods. Providing a virtual assistant using translation software like GeoFluent to customers who have trouble with self-service methods can work very well for your business, especially if you have a robust self-service system in place.
Research from Nuance shows that 71% of customers prefer a virtual assistant on the web to resolve simple questions and find information. As self-support options become increasingly complex, a staggering 50% of customers give up on self-support options like IVRs and website support tools and opt for calling a live rep.
By remedying this with a virtual assistant to guide them through it, you can potentially save on calls which require more expensive interpreters. It’s easier to assist a customer through chat and translation services than assisting through voice. With proper training your virtual assistants can guide customers to what they need quickly and efficiently.
United States itself is one of the most linguistically-diverse countries in the world. Fortunately with today’s tools, it’s possible to offer great service that overcomes the language barrier, and even better technology is on the way. Great customer service in any language is easier than ever, so be sure to check what works for your business.