Offering multilingual customer support presents a significant challenge to businesses and their service user help desks. How can they deliver a standard of customer service to foreign language speakers that is consistent with that of the support made available to English speakers?
One option is to hire multilingual employees. This will certainly make interactions with non-English speakers much easier due to the common language. However, this may be an infeasible solution for businesses dealing with customers of many different cultural backgrounds, as each one would necessitate the employment of a new employee who speaks that language.
Either that, or they find people who speak all of the languages that their customers use. Such people are going to be tricky to find and will most likely expect a hefty pay packet. Moreover, these people will need to be technologically informed so that they can comfortably express the complicated issues associated with the service for which they are offering support.
A company dealing with vast amounts of customers would need to locate many of these elusive multilingual people to employ to handle the level of traffic. This may simply not be possible and there will inevitably still be occasions when a language barrier is met. For example, when there is only one employee available who speaks Cantonese and several such requests requiring attention.
Another option would be to outsource support to local customer service desks to exclusively deal with customers in a particular area. These centers would be populated with local people who speak the native language and will be able to communicate effectively with the customers.
As great as this sounds, it’s not ideal if there are many languages to consider as each language would require a separate service desk. Moreover, training whole new teams of employees on specific business values and brand identity without a common fluent language would be difficult.
Furthermore, having multiple individual centers would complicate workforce management and result in the isolation of certain branches, compromising the consistency of a brand’s identity.
Yet another option would be to simply try to push on in English or perhaps use web-based translators like Google Translate to stumble through cross-language interactions. The obvious disadvantage here is that customers will receive shoddy service that is inconsistent with brand identity and lacking in concise, useful support. There is also the potential that a colleague will inadvertently use inappropriate language that offends the customer and damages the reputation of the brand among that community.
So what options are left for businesses? How can they resolve to deliver an equivalent level of service to all customers regardless of the language they speak, without incurring huge costs or logistical implausibilities? Is there any way to combine the authenticity of native speakers with the speed of machine translators like Google Translate?
Help could come in the form of third party translation services. These offer teams of native-level interpreters along with business software and tools that can aid a business help desk in supporting their non-English speaking customers. In this article, we explore three reasons why these services could be advantageous to businesses.
Translation services can be used to produce translated versions of a customer support service. Crucially, they are able to do this whilst preserving brand identity and the contextual connotations implicit within the content. They aim to accurately communicate translated information to customers using appropriate local terminology that is culturally sensitive. We can think of this as having ‘localized’ the brand.
Maintaining these important elements requires expertise in both technical business elements, such as sales channel strategies, and the linguistic tendencies unique to particular languages and cultures. Translation services are able to offer this expertise.
To give an example of how a translation service can help to localize customer support, consider the self-service portion of a business support channel. This may be composed of a web-based FAQs section and a knowledge base. If these features are only available in English, customers who speak a different language won’t be able to use them, and support request tickets from foreign-speakers will rack up in the inbox. These features will need to be translated into the languages that customers speak in order to alleviate this pressure.
To do this, it may be tempting for businesses to simply input all the information from the knowledge base and FAQs into an online tool such as Google Translate. The issue here is that tools like this generally work by directly translating words into the non-English equivalent without any consideration for the broader contextual meaning. This can result in technical words being mistranslated and the meaning becoming confused.
For example, consider an article about business starters that has been run through Google translate. The word ‘starter’ could be mistranslated to mean ‘appetizer’. The article would take on a whole new, nonsensical meaning. This is an extreme example of how a direct translation can alter the meaning of content to the point where it loses all utility.
A translation service expert can identify what the pertinent information is, and how best to convey that information given the relevant cultural sensibilities, all the while preserving brand image and service standards. Armed with self-service options of this caliber, non-English customers will be able to help themselves as well as English speakers. This means a less populated inbox for service teams as well as a higher rate of customer satisfaction.
Copywriting can also be translated and localized in this way to reach a wider audience while preserving the character of the written content.
Some translation services also offer artificially intelligent software systems that utilize NLP (natural language processing) to deliver live translation and localization of text in chatbots or email.
With the aid of professional interpreters, the machine can learn to recognize the nature of a customer’s requests and produce brand-appropriate responses. The machine will continue to learn with every conversation that is inputted. Gradually, the system will become fluent in your brand across many different languages.
2. Growth and Globalization
A second reason to use translation services is that it facilitates business growth. There are many people living in America who speak a language other than English as their first language. These people will remain largely inaccessible to businesses so long as their media and support channels are exclusively available in English. 72% of consumers said that they were more likely to buy a product if the information was available in their first language. The use of translation services therefore opens up businesses to millions of potential customers right here in America, and does so without incurring huge costs.
Now, how about when businesses want to expand globally? Translation is surely the crucial first step towards expanding an operation to external markets. An operation can’t reasonably be expected to succeed abroad if no efforts have been made to make information and support available in the local language.
As previously discussed, this result could be achieved by establishing local service teams in other countries, but using translation services to bolster an existing help desk allows businesses to save on time, money, and effort by centralizing support and promptly providing credible and accurate translations of content for new customers to make use of. Keeping things centralized in this way will limit the degree of discrepancy in brand image.
By limiting available support to only the English language, businesses are shutting off international opportunities for business growth. The use of translation services opens the door to both the demographic within America who speak other languages, and the prospect of international commerce.
Growth isn’t just about reaching more customers, though. When spreading into new countries, infrastructure will need to be developed for supply chains, distribution, manufacturers, etc. Attempting to formulate effective partnerships with these local businesses whilst contending with a language barrier will be a struggle and could result in miscommunication that spells all kinds of mishaps in a business expansion venture.
Any partnerships that are established should be expected to conform to the brand to the letter. Communicating these particular nuances in an entirely unambiguous way is something that translation services can help to achieve.
They can mediate all communication between all these different facets of an operation, providing an accurate interpretation of both outbound and inbound messages. When dealing with multiple simultaneous operations in different countries, having the capacity to communicate in this way saves an awful lot of the hassle of having to set up conference call meetings and struggle against the language barriers.
Having this ability to form effective business relationships with non-English speakers may also enable firms to streamline their internal American operations. It opens up options of gaining cheaper, more efficient, or more appropriate business partners that would have been previously overlooked because of a language barrier.
By managing relations with non-English speakers and offering them equivalent support, businesses will see an overall improvement in productivity. Without unaddressable non-English requests clogging up the ticket queue, average response time, resolution rate, and other key performance indicators will be ameliorated.
Employees will be able to resolve non-English requests in the same amount of time as regular requests, allowing them to spend more time on other issues that require more close attention. Ultimately, fewer mistakes will be made and customer satisfaction will be higher.
Internal relations will also benefit and deliver much more efficient production if translation services are used to accurately communicate instructions or problems. Traditionally, if there is an interruption to production somewhere down the line, there would have to be several layers of escalation before the problem can reach someone with the capacity to provide a resolution.
Along the way, there may be instances where a language barrier is encountered. This could even happen multiple times if the issue needs to be reiterated across the entire operation in multiple countries. The traditional approach would be drawn-out and arduous, and that one set-back would have a significant impact on productivity.
Conversely, with the aid of translation services and tools, these interruptions can be almost instantaneously relayed to the right person, and any change of procedure can be communicated across an entire operation with relative ease. The impacts of interruptions will be minimized so that the overall productivity rating is left comparatively unscathed.
It is worth noting that 69% of contact center leaders believe their non-English contact volume will increase over the next five years. If they are to be believed, it will pay dividends to be prepared to accept this increased volume. Using a translation service will lighten the load and keep productivity up.
In short, the boosts in productivity seen by customer service teams and employee support as a consequence of translation services are too valuable to be ignored. This is probably why over 40% of UK contact centers already support non-English languages
Every so often, a technology surfaces that has the potential to redefine standards for success. Can you imagine trying to operate a business without the ability to host an internet conference call or even to make a call from internet connections in general?
Today’s translation services represent one of the latest and most significant up and coming technologies that will prove to be essential in years to come. As the global economy continues to grow and international business becomes more common, there simply won’t be room for competitors lacking the capabilities that are afforded by translation services.
Of course, when considering new technology, the costs need to be evaluated in order to verify that such an investment is viable. For example, before installing a voice over internet phone system, business owners ought to ask themselves ‘how much does VoIP cost?’. But now that the technology has established itself, translation services are very reasonably priced, giving better value than any alternative solutions.
So, in addition to the reasons given in the article above, the ultimate reason to use these services is to avoid the future consequences of not using them. It’s important to keep up with the times and embrace innovative technologies so as not to get left behind.