6 Truths About Multilingual Customer Service You Need to Know 

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When it comes to customer service, is one language enough? More and more often, the answer is “no.” You have to be able to communicate with your customers, even if they don’t speak English. That said, each organisation has unique multilingual customer service needs and capabilities. Here are 6 facts and statistics about multilingual customer service to help you determine how best to serve your global customer base.

Multilingual Customer Service Increases Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction

Did you know that your customers are more likely to come back if you offer customer support in their language? It’s true!

In fact, according to as 2014 report from Common Sense Advisory, 74% of customers would be more likely to purchase from a company that offered post-sales support in their language.

Meanwhile,  a 2014 report from ICMI yielded these insights:

  • 71.5% of customer service leaders interviewed “said support in a customer’s native language increased their satisfaction with customer support.
  • 58.4% said it increased their loyalty to the brand.

Multilingual Customer Service: One Weird Trick to Make Your Customers Trust You

You want your customers to trust you, right? Of course you do. It’s no surprise that people prefer to hand over their hard earned money to organisations that they trust. And they trust people who speak their language and speak it well.

For example, in an interview with EurActiv.com, Martin Hope of the British Council observed that
“companies that learn the language of the countries they do business with will thrive in the future, making it easier to build trust relationships and helping them to understand how people think.”

Meanwhile, in ICMI’s 2014 report on multilingual customer service [PDF], one call center manager observed that  “Our callers trust us more and think we are providing more accurate information when we speak to them in their native language.”

And a 2014 report by Whale Path found that thought leaders in various industries called multilingual customer service “a   useful   tool   in   establishing   trust   and  leveraging  care  and  activities  an  aggregate  75%  of  the  time.”

Different Cultures Have Different Customer Service Expectations

What is good customer service? The answer depends, in part, on where you’re from. Everyone wants their problems resolved, of course. But they don’t necessarily want them resolved in the same way.

For example, Priceline  discovered that people from South America tend to stay on phone calls longer. On the other hand, the quicker you can get someone from the US off the phone, the better. In some countries, cross-selling or upselling is allowable. In others, it’s considered quite rude.

Customers Often Prefer Their Native Language Even If They Can Speak English

Just because your customers can speak English doesn’t mean they prefer it. Many people who can speak a second language still prefer to do business in their first language. And it’s not because they’re entitled or demanding. They might want to make sure that they understand the details of a transaction. Or, if they’re upset, they might not want the extra mental effort of communicating in a second language.

As Micheal Soon Lee explained in Rosetta Stone’s report on multilingual service:

“If they are already angry and upset, removing the stress and anxiety of speaking another language can help reduce their frustration. Even if you only have a basic command of the customer’s native language, it may take longer to get your point across but the customer is much more likely to be receptive and understanding.”

It’s Not Just About Language

According to Priceline, language is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to providing customer service to people all over the world. As Priceline CEO Darren Huston explained in the Harvard Business Review

No matter how fluent the rep, customers in some parts of the world simply don’t like talking to people who aren’t native speakers or don’t get the linguistic details right. The Japanese, for instance, can often tell the difference between a Japanese speaker from Singapore or the United States and one from Japan, and they tend to prefer the latter. . . . Americans tend to not like speaking with a rep who has a British accent, and vice versa. Even within the UK, Scots prefer to speak with Scots, the Welsh with the Welsh, and so on.

Localising Your Website Can Reduce Multilingual Customer Support Costs

Of course, different organisations have the ablity to offer different levels and types of multilingual customer service. Most companies don’t have access to the same resources as Priceline, or the same need for multilingual customer support.

But most organisations can benefit from properly localising the support pages on their websites.  Allowing customers who want to help themselves to do so reduces unnecessary customer inquiries. But your customers can’t help themselves if your support pages aren’t translated.

They also can’t help themselves if the pages are translated poorly, leaving your meaning unclear. Is your page is riddled with translation errors? Customers may not trust it In fact, they may decide they need to speak to a human to confirm their understanding.

So, if you want to minimise support costs, don’t use Google Translate. And don’t expect your customers to use Google Translate.  Help them get the support they need in a language they can understand!

Our website translation team will ensure that your entire site, including support pages, FAQs and user guides, is translated clearly and effectively into the languages your customers speak. Get in touch to find out how we can help make your website a global success!