The global marketplace isn’t a futuristic dream, it’s reality. And it’s also the new normal for business. To survive and grow, it is essential for companies to think internationally about their customer experience (CX) approach. To successfully compete in the world, you must speak its language — many languages, in fact. That presents sundry challenges but planning and deploying a multilingual CX strategy is a highly worthwhile — and necessary — endeavor that opens up a door to the world and establishes a global footprint for your enterprise.
It’s important to remember that CX is not one thing; it’s really a multistep journey customers take with your product or service, with many important touchpoints and interactions along the way. The challenge is providing meaningful and rewarding encounters despite language and cultural variations. Since CX has become a multimodal affair — in-person, by phone, online, chat, email, etc. — the strategy has to reflect that, as well as your company’s brand and mission. Each touchpoint must do that, as well as make a positive impression and create an excellent experience and satisfying outcomes for all parties.
There are many things to consider. If you primarily trade in a single country but have international customers — or global aspirations — you must be mindful of language and cultural variances, including customs, preferences, holidays, politics and other factors. The key is respect, of course, and accommodating customers’ expectations and preferences. This is not a radical or revolutionary idea since successful firms already do that domestically. Great CX is baked into their brand. But can your organization scale its approach to cover territories outside its local trading area? That is the challenge.
Everything begins with the product or service. Is it the same everywhere? Are there variations and local brands? Does the packaging or presentation differ by territory? Is the pricing and brand segmentation equivalent across all sales areas? Are there territories where products and services are licensed to other companies or distributors? Do some areas require special licensing, or professional or medical approval (or prescriptions) to purchase? Are there any sales limitations or restrictions? These are the types of questions you must answer because they will directly affect how you approach managing CX in multiple countries and regions.
Multilingualism isn’t limited to countries outside the U.S. According to the most recent census data, “The number of people in the United States who spoke a language other than English at home nearly tripled from 23.1 million (about 1 in 10) in 1980 to 67.8 million (almost 1 in 5) in 2019.“ It’s quite likely that the number is even higher now. The top five most frequently spoken languages other than English are Spanish or Spanish Creole, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Arabic. What this means for U.S. firms is that it is no longer a matter of “Press 1 for English. Press 2 for Spanish.” A multilingual CX strategy is required, domestically and internationally, to ensure your brand is consistently represented in a manner that reflects your company and mission.
Your company has multiple touchpoints and all require consideration when assessing your strategic needs for this initiative. Here are the areas of concern that must be addressed in devising your multilingual customer experience management strategy:
After you’ve done an inventory of your channels and goals and have a general idea of what you need to do, the next step is to reach out to an expert. Rather than search for an all-purpose translation service, it makes more sense to work with a provider that provides specialized CX multilingual capabilities. It pays dividends to engage a firm that is familiar with the needs, challenges and opportunities involved in customer experience interactions rather than one that must face a steep learning curve to understand and deploy the right solution.
Engage your customers using their local languages to drive engagement and satisfaction
As your business grows, your customer base expands, too. It is essential to keep pace with evolving customer needs to be successful.
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Improve your CX- offering customer support in multiple languages creates a more personalized experience and increases customer satisfaction
Increase customer loyalty- providing support in the customer's native language demonstrates your customer is valued, building trust and increasing loyalty
Expand market reach- multilingual customer support enables your business to expand its reach into new markets and demographics, driving increased sales and boosting revenue
Improve communication- communicating in the customer's preferred language avoids misunderstandings and leads to faster issue resolution
Create competitive advantage- multilingual customer support gives your organization a clear competitive edge over other companies