Most businesses are now operating in a truly global marketplace. We can often as easily source new customers from the other side of the world, as we can from the end of the road. As we move into this brave new world of international business, we must also ensure we are able to meet forever evolving customer experience demands. Central to this is to offer customer service in the languages your customers speak.
Let’s take a look at the practicalities of providing better customer experience when your customers are located all over the world. It may not be as complicated, expensive or labour intensive as you expect, and the payoffs could be enormous.
Why is customer experience so important anyway?
A number of recent studies into what customers consider important has found that customer experience (CX) is fast becoming the factor that affects customers the most when deciding between brands. The Common Sense Advisory carried out a seminal study on this and found that 74 per cent of consumers said they would be more likely to make a repeat purchase with a brand if after-sales services were offered in their own language.
Meanwhile, Gartner found that 89 per cent of the businesses they questioned said they are most likely to compete on the basis of customer experience. This means that factors like product and price are rapidly falling out of favour in terms of the most vital decision-making factors for consumers.
In a B2C environment where so much business is won online and where consumers expect the goods and services they need to be available quickly and easily, it’s easy to see why the emphasis has shifted to CX. If you’re offering similar products and services to your competitors and your customers have masses of choice as to where they make purchases, customer experience becomes the big differentiator.
Businesses are beginning to catch onto this change in customer expectations and are committing increased proportions of their budgets to enhance CX. However, there are still major shortfalls in CX provision, and particularly when it comes to providing CX in multiple languages.
A survey from ICMI/Lionbridge found that only 19 per cent of contact centres are providing voice support in multiple languages.
If you have an international customer base and want to enhance your CX, then investing in improving the provision of customer support in multiple languages is a must. After all, 72 per cent of the customers surveyed by the Common Sense Advisory said they would be more likely to buy a product in the first place if the information about that product and the purchasing process was available in their own language.
Step 1 – find out which languages your customers speak
If you’re unsure what languages you need to focus on when investing in multi-lingual customer support, you need to start using your Google Analytics tools. These are free to website holders and show you where your web traffic is coming from.
You may also find that you receive communications from customers in other languages. Make sure you flag these in your email and record the languages used. Over the space of a few months you will build up a pretty accurate picture of where your customer base is located and the languages in which you need to provide information.
Step 2. Work out what information needs to be translated
Although you would ideally localise and translate your entire website for each of your markets, there are elements that are worth prioritising if budgets are tight. Although consumers love seeing fully localised content on eCommerce websites, if doing the entire website is too much, then prioritise the essentials such as the key features and benefits, the price of the goods in local currency and important information like shipping and returns policies.
Consumers also want to be able to interact with customer service, such as instant messaging tools on your website, in their own language, as this makes them feel valued as a customer and reassures them that they aren’t simply sending their money off into the ether.
Step 3. Work with a language translation service provider
It may be tempting to use online machine translation tools, such as Google Translate, for your multi-lingual customer support, but this would be a mistake. These tools are notoriously prone to mistranslations and CX is not an area where you can risk providing misinformation.
Not only could inaccurate information land you in hot water legally, but it can also impact your business’s reputation and with social media now playing such a huge part in CX, bad news travels fast.
A good language translation service provider will have a number of native speakers, who can offer you an invaluable insight into not just the word-for-word translation of written communications, but the nuances that would be totally missed by a machine translation tool. For example, localisation experts will be able to advise on things like the most common payment methods preferred in each of your markets and the lead times for shipping and receipts of payment.
Do Chinese consumers expect free returns? Are credit cards used to make online payments in Brazil? Do French consumers expect a greater level of aftersales care than UK consumers? These are the types of questions experienced translation and localisation service providers can help you to answer.
Major international businesses use native-speaking translators to deliver the very best CX services. By doing the same, you can compete on a level playing field and ensure your customers are looked after, regardless of where they come from.
Contact the team at Bubbles Translation today to discuss your plans for international customer service. We work with companies around the world and we’d be more than happy to talk about how our experience here can help you.