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It’s fair to say that nowadays customers have high expectations from companies they decide to do business with.
First of all, it should go without saying that great products and services are a must. However, other aspects of doing business are crucial too. It is important to push for a clear, unique, and integrated brand experience across all channels.
Customer support is one of those important segments that contribute a lot to the overall brand experience.
It is the backbone of every business, and offering multi-lingual support has become quite significant for companies. After all, consumers prefer to do business in their native language.
So, if you run an international company, this kind of support is a must. Below you will see how to use multilingual customer support to drive a multi-channel strategy.
Benefits of multilingual support
You may already know how relevant it is to provide multilingual customer support.
However, just in case you want to see some tangible evidence that backs up these claims, take a look at some great benefits of multi-lingual support.
For a company to grow, it has to expand its operations. This is the goal of most business owners.
However, such expansion means that the customer base will grow as will the proportion of non-English speakers.
It’s unrealistic to expect every customer to speak English once you start to grow globally. So, if you want to grow, it would be a good idea to provide multilingual support to better handle customers in their mother tongue.
Speaking your customers’ language will boost loyalty. This is the power of language – it makes the relationship-building process easier.
If your agents speak in the customers’ language, the customers will more likely become loyal to your company.
Additionally, a whopping 58% of customers stated that their loyalty towards a brand would be boosted if there was customer support available in their own language.
It shows that you care about them
It’s very simple – customers spend their money with businesses that show appreciation and respect. If a business shows complete disregard for your experience as a customer, you too will probably avoid buying from that same company again.
So, provide support in their language and show them that you care about their comfort and overall customer experience.
Nowadays, it is more important than ever to be culturally sensitive. Therefore, if you become accessible to groups or communities that are a minority in a society, you will earn extra points.
It goes without saying that this policy should not only exist because a business can earn ‘extra points’ but because it is the right thing to do!
A nice way to show that you respect all races and ethnicities is to introduce multilingual support. There are dozens of communities speaking different languages, so introducing it will make them comfortable.
In turn, this will boost your company’s reputation and it will be a clear sign that you are open and accessible to all customers.
What languages should you support?
Basically, the selection of languages you opt for mainly depends on the market you want to reach.
It doesn’t make sense to introduce Italian customer support if you have no intention of selling to Italians. It’s quite simple.
However, this doesn’t mean that the only solution is English. On the contrary, when people look for information using various internet search engines, most of them do so in their native languages.
Therefore, if you only establish customer service in English, you risk losing a lot of customers.
Should you support all languages?
This question often comes to mind when thinking about multilingual customer support.
It is fairly obvious that almost no company can provide customer service in all languages.
However, let’s take a look at one important report from 2018. In March 2018, Common Sense Advisory March 2018 predicted that multiple languages will be needed to reach 97% of the global online addressable market in 2022 and 2027.
Obviously, there will be a rapid rise of languages from emerging economies in Asia. There will also be a slow erosion of the dominant status of European languages online.
What came as a surprise was the prediction that languages such as Spanish and Portuguese will also thrive. The same applies even to eclipsing languages such as Italian and Japanese.
The bottom line is to look at the languages the majority of your customers use and decide whether it would pay off to include them or not.
If you receive a high number of support requests in a specific language, it would be common sense to translate your content into that language.
Just know that the whole process can be a bit expensive and unscalable. You can’t always find a native speaker for each and every language you support.
So, think strategically and listen to what your customers are telling you, so you can provide a cost-effective multilingual experience.
Choose the channels to support
Finally, it’s time to figure out what channels to focus on when introducing multilingual support. Depending on your business and industry, you will find some of these more important than others.
Translate your website
Nowadays, countries where at least two languages aren’t accepted or spoken are quite rare. Well, why not take advantage of that and translate your website into languages used by the majority of your customers?
A multilingual website will surely help attract new clients both locally and overseas. Such a website helps with establishing trust.
When people buy something from a website in a foreign language, they really need a leap of faith to make the purchasing decision. This is especially true if the website is written in a language the user is completely unfamiliar with.
Customers feel better trusting brands that offer information in their language. It’s quite simple – being able to read what is written on the website increases the user’s trust in that website.
Additionally, a multilingual website offers the potential for increased sales. With every language you add to your website, you actually increase the chances of getting more sales and raking in more revenue.
This means that you are not limiting your business to a single market. Instead, you are opening up to more regions and more customers.
Provide multi-language support
If you want the best results, you should definitely employ a local customer service team.
Setting up a call center or a customer service center (mail, telephone, and video support) with native speakers of the languages you want to target will give customers the comfort of communicating in their own languages.
This can be a difficult task since you can’t always find people with near-native or native proficiency if you decide to outsource. But, if you choose to have a department in your home country, you should have no problems.
Yes, it may be a bit expensive to train customer service representatives and develop all the scripts, but it definitely pays off. Companies that have successful customer service departments can expect to be rewarded by customers.
On top of that, if you manage to find a bilingual customer support agent, you will be in a win-win situation. These individuals can be trained at home and still provide personalized support that foreign-language customers want and need.
You should definitely consider using multilingual self-service, which is a low-cost option. A lot of customers want to resolve their issues on their own. So, why not make that available?
First of all, it’s cheap to implement and it is also quite helpful to your customers. For instance, it would be a wise idea to have a knowledge base or help center where you can just provide the most common answers (FAQ), making them easily accessible to any customer.
These answers can also be translated into multiple languages if you are targeting an international audience.
All in all, translating FAQ pages and knowledge bases into targeted languages can only bring positive results.
The trick for this kind of communication is to mirror real conversations instead of just being an awkward exchange of information.
When communicating with an international audience, it usually helps to get to know the country where they’re coming from. Different elements of a culture will also influence each other, like how religious beliefs can make a culture more family-centric.
Therefore, businesses should also consider the context of a culture as a whole. This is why it would be wise to hold a cross-cultural training for your customer service agents.
Social media channels shouldn’t be looked at as marketing channels exclusively. On the contrary, a lot of consumers like to communicate with a brand about customer service issues through social media pages.
There is a belief that businesses need to be where their target audience is. And of course, those places are social media platforms.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are usually highly-prioritized networks since they gather the largest crowds. So, make sure to create social media accounts in multiple languages to address your customers’ issues.
When you focus on email support services, you actually enjoy quite a lot of benefits.
This is due to a number of reasons. First of all, emails are easily accessible. Everyone can access their email inboxes even when they are on the move.
Email also allows people to attach files when sending messages, which is quite useful.
Finally, email is a trustworthy channel due to one simple reason – it uses written words. People give more importance to the written word compared to verbal interaction.
All of this clearly points to the fact that having a service email channel available in more than one or two languages is a huge plus.
It is clear that the benefits of multilingual support are numerous. Customers want this kind of support and that should be enough to make every business owner at least consider introducing this kind of customer support.
The equation is quite simple – implement multilingual customer service if you want great success.