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Multilingual Customer Support: What Is It and Why Do I Need It?

If you are reading this article, you have already come to the realization that you need to offer multilingual customer support. Maybe you’ve already dabbled in offering multilingual support or have simply done the math and realized that there is a huge financial upside to accommodating the six billion people worldwide who are non-native English speakers.1 And, you may be surprised to learn that offering multilingual support is not as expensive as you may think. By teaming up with a language services provider you can control many of the costs associated with adding multilingual support by tapping into language services on an “as needed” basis. Not only can you opt to be charged per minute for only the time you use, you can also have the flexibility to offer language support in hundreds of languages, often around the clock every day of the year.

What is Multilingual Customer Support?

Multilingual customer support means making sure that all of your customers, regardless of their native or preferred language, culture or location, are able to get the most out of your products and services. This can happen through a range of language-accessible customer support services that you provide, such as answering customer questions, giving assistance, troubleshooting, or upgrading the customer’s experience in their native or preferred language.

Why You Need Multilingual Customer Support

Offering multilingual customer support can help you in the following ways:

Multilingual Customer Support Increases Accessibility for New Customers Internationally

With six billion non-native English speakers in the world1, expanding your multilingual support can only increase your market accessibility. The simple act of translating your website can improve the visibility of your offerings on search engines across different languages that you are targeting. Add to that the translation of your support materials such as videos and your social media content, and customer accessibility increases substantially.

Multilingual Customer Support Increases Accessibility For New Customers in the U.S.

In the U.S., there are 67.3 million residents who speak a language other than English at home.2 Businesses that are accommodating this large segment of the population have a higher chance of winning more customers than those that don’t.

People Prefer Doing Business in Their Own Language

People prefer companies and brands that offer information in their native language. This has been well documented in research published by Harvard Business.3

Learn in-depth about boosting the customer experience with multilingual support in the article: How to Boost Your Customer Experience with Multilingual Support.

Examples of Industries Where Multilingual Customer Support is Often Found

Here are some examples of industries where multilingual customer support can often be seen in action:

  • Travel and Hospitality The travel and hospitality industry requires ongoing communication with customers and guests. This means lots of calls, emails, and web chats that need to be conducted in multiple languages. Adding multilingual customer support can improve guest experience and increase bookings, while reducing cancellations and complaints.
  • Online Retailers or e-tailers Opening a multilingual online store can open your sales to the international market. Having your website and product info, including your shopping cart, translated into various languages is just a start. You’ll also want to offer customer support for your international clientele. This can come in the form of chat, email, and live phone support as well as the translation of customer support materials, such as videos and how to documents.
  • Medical and Healthcare Healthcare organizations are required by law to offer HIPAA-compliant, multilingual, multichannel medical support for their patients. Many healthcare organizations have set-up multilingual contact centers to accommodate their patients’ needs while also working with language services companies to bridge the language divide that can exist between patients and providers. Learn more about translation and interpretation for healthcare.
  • Technology Technical support for tech companies that offer SAAS (Software as a Service), applications, electronics and hardware products can be offered in a wide variety of ways. From translating your eLearning, software, product information, technical instructions to offering live customer support Over-the-Phone, it makes all the difference in how your technology can be distributed and adopted.

Types of Customer Channels Where You Can Offer Multilingual Support

For an optimal customer service experience, you’ll want to offer multilingual support in multiple customer channels. For the very best customer experience, try setting up a multilingual omnichannel contact center. Here are the types of channels that can be used to offer multilingual support.

1. Providing Multilingual Live Chat

One of the easiest ways to add multilingual support is with chat. Chat has enabled businesses to instantly talk to online visitors and generate more leads while enhancing the online customer experience. If done correctly, chat can benefit both the customer and agent. When chat is offered around the clock it can be a huge convenience to the customer. Offering live chat in multiple languages can increase sales and customer retention efforts by building stronger relationships and creating a more authentic customer experience for everyone, regardless of language and culture.

A language services provider can help you administer chat sessions in hundreds of languages, 24/7, with fast connection speeds. This arrangement can be done on a per-minute basis and can integrate with your favorite chat platform.

Improving Resolution Times with Multilingual Chat Bots

Customers, regardless of the language they speak, prefer fast resolutions. This is where chatbots can help you provide a more convenient experience for your customers, while reducing strain on your team. By translating your chat-bot scripts into different languages, you can assist more customers while determining their potential need for live support.

2. Providing Over-the-Phone Interpretation Support

There are many benefits to adding Over-the-Phone Interpretation to your contact center. You can read about all of the benefits in great detail in the article Why Your Contact Center Needs Over-the-Phone Interpretation. The main benefit of Over-the-Phone Interpretation is that it instantly gives your agents access to on-demand interpreters. A leading language provider can offer 24/7/365 access to professional interpreters in multiple languages. For many contact centers, this is a cost-effective way to improve multilingual support without having to commit in-house resources. This service can also be complementary in contact centers that do have in-house interpreters, but may need to fill occasional needs for additional languages or resources.

3. Translating Customer Support Materials

Having your key customer support materials translated into the native languages that your customers speak is essential. Support materials that lend themselves well to translation include websites, questions and answers, instructional manuals, guides, blog posts, how-to articles, whitepapers, testimonials, technical documents, and press releases, just to name a few. By translating your support materials, you are increasing accessibility for your current and future customers. Partnering with a language service provider to translate and localize your customer support content will help you break down language barriers and ensure that your materials are culturally appropriate, all of which will contribute to your efforts to create a cohesive experience for your customers, regardless of their native language, culture or locale.

4. Making Your Video Content Language Accessible

Video as a medium has been growing and growing. According to recent research, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2022, fifteen times more than in 2017.4 Videos can take all kinds of forms for customer support. Examples including tutorials, interviews, reviews, testimonials, recorded events, how-tos and so much more. If you are using video to communicate with customers to educate them about your products or services, then enhancing it with subtitles or voice-over translation will help you reach new customers while also simultaneously reducing the strain on your customer support agents.

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