Eilon is a Customer Success Manager at BLEND. He helps global brands find the best localization and translation solutions for their business.
Many companies are now long beyond borders to protect the bottom line. Whether it’s reduced consumer spending power at home or increasing competition from saturated markets, there are plenty of reasons why brands are extending their reach. When it comes to e-commerce, it’s countries like India and Indonesia that are experiencing the most rapid growth. However, identifying these ripe markets isn’t enough to guarantee success. Brands looking to go global need to ensure they have robust multilingual customer support in place.
Customer support is incredibly important. Delivering high levels of customer service can increase profitability by as much as 2%. When it comes to sales generation, the gains are even more significant. Thanks to the rise of AI, even modest-sized companies can now unlock the potential of multilingual customer support and position themselves as industry leaders in untapped territories.
As the name suggests, multilingual support involves a business providing support to customers in multiple languages. It’s vital to ensure a company can deliver the best possible customer experience to as many people as possible.
Many businesses overlook the importance of customer support, even when dealing with consumers in native territories. However, just because someone has committed to a purchase, doesn’t mean the customer journey is over. Many consumers will need support in using and getting the most from the products and services they buy. What’s more, they may wish to make a return or request an exchange. Whatever the issue, support is vital for ensuring maximum customer satisfaction.
A satisfied customer is more likely to become a returning one. If you’re serious about retaining a customer base and delivering superior service to international consumers, you need to invest in multilingual customer service.
If you’re not offering multilingual support, you’re putting yourself at a significant disadvantage. Customers are far more likely to return to a brand if after-sales support was delivered in their native language.
Furthermore, consumer behavior and habits are changing. Nowadays, customers look far beyond the bottom line when deciding who to buy from. Being able to undercut the competition at the point of sale isn’t enough to secure brand loyalty.
If your customer support falls short, don’t be too surprised to see once loyal customers leaving in droves and seeking out a better deal. Acquiring new customers is incredibly time-consuming. Generally speaking, it’s also far more expensive to secure a new customer than invest in retaining existing ones.
With the right planning and successful deployment, multilingual customer support can yield major benefits, including:
If you’re thinking about expanding into new territories, multilingual customer support should be a key consideration. Having contact center support agents on hand who can speak to non-native speakers in their own language will open up significant sales opportunities.
Being able to communicate fluently with your customers is essential. Customers can fully express their concerns, ensuring they feel heard and valued. It’s a more efficient way to do business, ensuring your teams spend less time on a single customer.
You need to be thinking about the post-sale stage if you want to ensure an enhanced experience for the customer. Multilingual support is an easy way to do this.
Worried about customer retention? Speaking to them in their native language will increase brand loyalty. Businesses that fail to offer multilingual support are looked at more unfavorably than their multilingual counterparts.
Customer support can be a deal-breaker for an indecisive customer. First-rate multilingual support makes it easier to upsell or convert wavering customers into repeat buyers. Even if you’re operating within a saturated market, multilingual customer support can set you apart from the competition.
The more territories you operate in, the more customer enquiries you’ll need to deal with. While some customers will abandon your brand after encountering issues, others may be convinced to stay if they receive exceptional customer service. For companies, this phase should be looked at as a learning experience for improving products and services.
Non-native speakers prefer to deal with companies that can communicate with them in their own language. If you’re offering multilingual support and a key competitor isn’t, expect to see an influx of sales enquiries.
If you’ve done your homework, your multilingual customer support efforts can cement you as an industry leader. The more you do to augment your customer service for non-native speakers, the more they’ll feel valued.
While multilingual customer support has many benefits, implementing it isn’t always. Below are just some of the barriers you can expect to encounter.
This is a significant issue for any e-commerce platform. Annual sales events and key buying seasons will lead to a major upswing in customer enquiries. Even if you have native-speaking customer support agents on hand, don’t assume an easy ride. Retail seasonality varies between countries, so make sure you’ve anticipated any differences ahead of time.
This is a problem if you’re operating remotely. Customer support agents working within a virtual space can still be productive, but the actual recruitment and hiring of agents can be difficult. To ensure you’re selecting the right people for the job, you’ll need to work with native-speaking recruitment specialists.
An ever-increasing number of help desk tickets is an issue for any customer support team. The bigger a ticket backlog gets, the more pressure customer support teams feel. This can lead to second-rate interactions and missed opportunities. Ultimately, you should be striving to avoid ticket backlogs becoming an issue in the first place.
Working with an international team of customer support agents is complicated by time zones. Even a difference of a few hours can impact communication. To overcome the challenge, outline expectations early and maintain clear lines of communication. Online collaboration tools are also useful.
Artificial intelligence has many exciting applications for customer support. Below are just a few ways AI can help you transform the customer experience.
Customers want desirable outcomes as quickly as possible. Even a slight delay in delivering a resolution can lead to a dissatisfied customer. With AI-powered tools, you can expedite the customer service journey. As well as keeping your customers happy, it relieves the burden on resource-poor customer support teams.
AI is well-suited to handling repetitive and time-intensive tasks. Tools like live chat windows can quickly identify what customers are complaining about, redirecting them to the right resources to reach a resolution more quickly.
By making use of artificial intelligence and machine translation, you can dramatically reduce operational costs. It’s ideal for companies planning an expansion into multiple territories and requiring support in several languages.
Superior customer service needs to be omnichannel. With generative AI tools, companies can unlock the full potential of omnichannel customer support.
Average handle time (AHT) varies considerably between industries. In a best-case scenario, a single phone call interaction should produce results in around six minutes. AI can speed up the entire process, routing specific queries to the right support agents.
If you have an eye on global expansion, you should be thinking about scalability. AI is invaluable for companies looking to scale cross-cultural customer support. With the right tools, you can serve international markets around the clock. What’s more, you can alleviate pressures on your human teams by identifying common queries and directing customers to self-serve solutions.
This is an obvious one. You won’t be able to deliver industry-leading support if you’re not speaking the same language as your customers. If you’re looking to penetrate markets with multiple languages, you’ll need to provide support options in all of them.
While many customers prefer to speak directly with a human agent, others are far more proactive when looking for solutions. If you’re moving into new markets, your website should already be localized. However, pay special attention to the help and FAQ sections. You want to provide customers with an exhaustive knowledge base they can turn to resolve issues themselves.
Understanding cultural differences and nuance is important when internationalizing and localizing your company. However, there’s more to consider when adapting your customer support initiatives. Keeping things simple is a good idea, regardless of which languages you’re using. Streamlined sentence structure is also useful if you plan on relying on machine translations.
AI-powered help desks are an essential tool for providing multilingual customer support. Whether you’re an enterprise-level brand or a more modest operation, multilingual help desks can simplify the customer support process, without compromising on experience or quality.
Just a few decades ago, consumers had to rely on dedicated hotlines or mail correspondence to resolve complaints. Today, there are many effective channels you can utilize for cross-cultural customer support. You’ll want to maintain the standard channels like email and phone lines. Self-serve knowledge bases, support widgets, and AI-powered live chat features are also useful. Want to engage with people with the platforms they’re already using? Social networks are another support channel you should be using.
If you want to turn your business into a global enterprise, you need to be offering multilingual customer support as standard. Historically, this has been difficult to deliver. However, an upswing in remote working and advancements in AI mean that customer service has been revolutionized in recent years.
When you invest in multilingual customer support, you can dramatically extend your reach. Improved customer communications, an enhanced user experience, and bolstered brand loyalty are all natural consequences of a multilingual support model. As well as boosting sales revenue, it can help a business remain competitive in heavily saturated markets.
What’s more, AI has many exciting applications. As well as automating many manual tasks, AI-powered tools can slash operational costs and allow businesses to explore omnichannel customer service offerings that would have once been unattainable.
Need help with your multilingual customer support strategy? At BLEND, we can pair you with the right tools and localization experts to elevate your customer service experience. Our network boasts thousands of linguists and localization professionals, working in more than 120 world languages. Ready to discover more about how BLEND can help you? Get in touch with the team today.