Foreword by Nathanael Robbins, Vice President of Strategic Growth at SupportNinja
“Providing effective multilingual customer support is an important factor contributing to SupportNinja’s growth and success. We strive to be a multilingual hub capable of providing support in multiple languages to customers all over the world. It is incredibly meaningful to be able to provide our customers with support in their native language, rather than forcing them to communicate their satisfaction or frustration in a language that makes them feel uncomfortable or misunderstood.”
As your business grows, the need for multilingual customer support will become increasingly important. Not only does it show that you're taking advantage of global opportunities, it also demonstrates your commitment to providing great customer experience no matter where your customers are from.
In this article, we'll explore some tips and best practices for meeting the needs of your multilingual customers.
Best practices for meeting the needs of multilingual customers
One of the most influential factors of a company's success lies in customer satisfaction. As globalization continues to diversify connectivity, more and more companies are coming to terms with the importance of building customer loyalty, embedding DEI strategies to establish a positive company culture, and successfully accessing a wider market to generate increased revenue. Once you take all of this into account, the urgency in providing multilingual support becomes quite clear. The customer “experience” is a journey, extending far beyond the point of sale. By providing excellent multilingual customer support, you can successfully position your company as one that strives to meet the needs of your diverse market before, during, and after the sale, limiting any potential obstacles or biases along the way.
1. Identify specific needs of your multilingual customers
Before you can even begin building support for your multilingual customers, you must first take the time to understand who they are, where they come from, and identify their needs as a consumer. As Nathanael notes,
“First things first, you need to address what languages you need to support. Look closely at your data. Where is the need to support multilingual customers coming from? One of the most common challenges people run into when it comes to multilingual support is misunderstanding the marketplace. Don’t let that happen to you.”
Taking this necessary step will help facilitate stronger customer communication and let customers know they are valued. It also provides you with a realistic snapshot of where your strengths and weaknesses lie when it comes to multilingual customer service overall.
2. Offer customer support in their language
When it comes to offering quality service for your multilingual customers, think about how they interact with your product and services. Whether it is in person or online, language barriers present significant challenges, making it more difficult for customers to access the information they need. Imagine you are traveling to a new country, but you do not speak the language. Navigating your way around town, making purchases, and communicating with other people can be an uncomfortable and frustrating experience.
“I’ve traveled around the world and have tried to learn several languages, but there’s nothing quite like it when you are visiting a cafe in Germany and the waiter speaks a little bit of English. That moment when you both realize you can understand each other is priceless. There is a powerful sense of relief that washes over you when you realize you can communicate with another. After all, we are creatures of communication.”
Similarly, those feelings of discomfort and frustration are equally experienced when a customer interacts with a company that does not offer multilingual support. Rather than having your multilingual customers feel as though your company isn’t intended for them, you can adapt your products and services to meet their language needs through the use of localization.
Localization places an emphasis on adaptation. It makes content more familiar and appealing to your diverse audience. For example, you can take steps to modify the graphics and content on your website to show representation of your diverse populations, use local currencies and units of measurement for easier transactions, or even incorporate adjusted operating hours depending on the region and time zone your customers are located. According to the Unbabel 2021 Global Multilingual CX Report, 68% of consumers show a stronger preference for interacting with brands that use their native language. By identifying and prioritizing the language needs of your multilingual customers, you are better able to build a sense of trust, loyalty, and confidence in your business.
Moreover, implementing strategic hiring practices to ensure a wide variety of languages are represented throughout your company is critical. Native language matters. If a customer cannot comfortably and confidently interact with your company, they will leave and go somewhere where they can. Successful companies do not strive for one-time customers, they strive for building long-lasting relationships that generate repeat business. If your customers do not have confidence in your ability to meet their needs, customer loyalty diminishes. Hiring multilingual employees not only provides contextualized information about the audience you serve, it can promote cultural awareness and sensitivity.
3. Utilize translation tools
Language shouldn’t hinder a company from providing quality customer support. If you want to reach a wider global market and increase sales, it would be wise to implement a Language Operations (LangOps) team to improve global customer experience and prevent miscommunication between your company and your multilingual customers. Incorporating the use of translation tools within your LangOps can ensure your customers will not miss out on critical information, maintain the freedom to express themselves, and possess all the information needed to interact successfully with your product and services.
Ultimately, customers want to do business with a company who cares - and what better way to show you care than to speak their language. Real-time translation tools such as your multilingual chatbot, customer support call center, Google Translate, or AI (Artificial Intelligence) tools are just a few ways you can further support your multilingual customers. It is important to keep in mind that while various translation tools can improve productivity and increase support, it may take time to figure out which tools will work best for your company’s customers.
4. Celebrate diversity and valuable feedback
As your company continues to evolve, don't forget to celebrate the diversity within your organization. You have a wealth of knowledge right at your fingertips! Every employee and customer you serve holds background knowledge and life experiences that are valuable, making their insight and feedback even more beneficial. The more you fuel creativity, celebrate diversity, and elicit feedback, the more your multilingual customers will be able to align and identify with your company. Don’t be shy! Promote your multilingual services on social media and other online platforms, host events and webinars that are open to people from all over the world, and give special shoutouts to your valued customers.
5. Encourage cultural awareness
Customers want to be seen and heard, regardless of where they come from or what languages they speak.
“When you look at offering multilingual services to BPO customers, they want to speak to someone in their native language. By doing this, customer engagement and satisfaction will increase. Customers will know they can rely on your company to get the support they need without any hassle or miscommunication, which is truly invaluable.”
It is important to remember that a customer’s journey goes beyond the sale and may require additional support. Whether a customer has questions about a purchase they made, needs assistance with the return or exchange policy, or needs further input on the proper use of the product - this all requires you to provide support to ensure satisfaction, build customer loyalty and maintain a positive reputation. By taking the time to learn more about other cultures and better understand your multilingual customers' needs, your employees will be better equipped to relate, understand, and communicate on a more meaningful level.