Five Tips For Providing Multilingual Customer Support

Simon Davies

Business isn’t simply about technical skills. It’s about understanding people. Taking the time to provide customer support in another language not only helps businesses source international opportunities but maintain lucrative global relationships too.

Being able to speak to someone in their own language establishes trust, which is important at all stages of the purchasing cycle. Here are five tips to help your business master multilingual customer support.

1. Provide multilingual service and support on demand

Communicating with international customers through telephone interpreters, a multilingual live-chat feature, or even e-mail correspondence ensures that you address your customers’ questions and queries in real-time.

While it’s unlikely machine technology will offer businesses the perfect translations humans are capable of, software to deliver information to customers in multiple languages is making huge advances. Statistical and hybrid translation systems can even be trained for specific industries or companies, making localization a reality for all businesses.

Service and support features like these will allow you to deliver excellent customer service to international clients on demand and will therefore give you an opportunity to achieve top satisfaction scores for sales care.

2. Localize your Web site

No matter what language, you’ll want your Web site to convey a message that’s not only true to your overall advertising strategy, but also familiar to the customer reading it. Localizing your translated Web site in context can help you directly target a specific market.

Providing answers to FAQs in multiple languages can provide customers with self-service opportunities, which can be up to 91% more favorable than other forms of support. It’s important to work with experienced translators to effectively prioritize and communicate your most useful content.

3. Simplify your language

Simple words and sentence structure go a long way toward effective multilingual customer support. Most of us don’t think about how heavily idiomatic our native language use is, but we must remember to adjust for that when communicating with customers who speak different languages.

Just take a look at what happens to this response when we used an online translator to switch it to Korean and back again:

“Yikes! Sorry to hear you’ve hit some trouble. I’ll have this back up and running in a jiffy!”

“Oh yea! Sorry for crashing you on some problems. I need to back up and run in a flash!”

It may seem a little boring, but it’s useful to sacrifice style for clarity in these cases. Colloquialisms and conversational language can cause all kinds of miscommunication.

4. Use visuals

A picture is worth a thousand words in any language. If you’re concerned about being misunderstood, take a screenshot, record a short video, or create a quick gif. Infographics can also help simplify instructions. With the right tools, online visuals save you and your customer both time and confusion.

Presenting new customers with visuals and infographics they can immediately relate to, regardless of language, will generate more confidence in your service and increase your brand recognition.

5. Manage expectations

One last key support consideration – managing expectations and communicating support availability. If you have multiple language speakers on your team, great! Put their skills to use. But most customers won’’t expect you to offer support across all channels in all languages at all times.

Instead, prioritize what is most important. AirBnB got it right in 2013, when the firm launched a functional Japanese version of its Web site at a week’s notice by prioritizing the most important translations instead of trying to convert its entire 400,000-words worth of English content.

To avoid unnecessary frustration and disappointment, proactively communicate what support languages you do and don’’t provide.

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About Simon Davies

Simon Davies is a London-based freelance writer with an interest in startup culture, issues, and solutions. He works explores new markets and disruptive technologies and communicates those recent developments to a wide, public audience. Simon is also a contributor at socialbarrel.com, socialnomics.net, and tech.co. Follow Simon @simontheodavies on Twitter.