Good Customer Service Starts With Speaking Your Customers' Language

How can companies provide quality customer service to their global customers? The first step is providing support in their customers' native language.


Avinash Kaushik, a Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google, penned a blog post that has provided a framework for content and digital marketers everywhere (including those at Google, of course) to attract new customers.

There are lessons from this blog post that can inform activities further down the funnel. After all, when prospects become customers, businesses need to deliver on their product or service to maintain their reputation and keep customers coming back.

One huge aspect of this: good customer service.

Avinash’s concept, the See-Think-Do framework, lays out three stages in the marketing funnel, gradually narrowing down the audience by buying intent. He gives excellent advice on the most appropriate marketing focus/tactics for each stage.

But as Avinash points out near the end of the blog post: Life does not stop at getting one order from a customer.

What comes next is arguably the most important long-term strategy for sustained business growth — particularly when it comes to retaining customers in different geographic markets.

Coddle Your Global Customers With Good Customer Service

Avinash strongly encourages marketers to coddle customers — specifically, customers who buy from a brand more than twice. This means providing an indulgent experience of customized content and outreach that speaks directly to the customers’ evolving needs.

While we can all coddle customers with monetary incentives like discounts and gifts, I’d like to challenge businesses to take a step back and consider offering something that will go much further: supporting customers in their native language.

We all know that seeking support is notoriously a sore spot for customers, whether it’s long wait times on the phone or the inability to find content that correctly troubleshoots their questions and issues.

And it hurts businesses too. Studies show that companies lose $62 billion annually due to poor customer service. This problem grows as businesses sell to, and therefore need to support, customers around the world.

A massive problem like this could be solved by hiring large cohorts of customer service representatives to manage phone lines and online chat services.

But given that the majority of customers prefer to find answers to their questions through self-service channels rather than speaking with a company representative, the first place to start may be with optimizing your online help center.

A help center is an easily scalable and cost-effective way to ease common customer support issues. Internal employees can collaborate on evergreen articles that can be accessed by their entire customer base. Rather than a 1-to-1 approach, it’s a 1-to-many approach that doesn’t require increased headcount to manage.

The next level is to expand online help centers beyond English content. With 75% of internet users preferring to use languages besides English, 71.5% of customer service leaders interviewed shared that when users are provided with support in their native language, their satisfaction with the support they received increases significantly. These statistics don't require much unpacking. Clear communication and support begin with speaking your customers’ language.

Tips for Localizing Your Customer Help Center

There are real business benefits to prioritizing the localization of both prospect-facing marketing content and support content: customer satisfaction, customer retention, and customer evangelism about your brand’s customer service.

Here are tips for creating and managing your Help Center in multiple languages.

1. Provide a list of key brand terms - With Help Centers serving as the single point of truth about a company’s product or service, ensure that your translators are using the correct terms to reference each aspect of the product/service. One set of standards goes a long way when publishing tens, hundreds, or thousands of articles. A dependable, high-quality Help Center is key to reversing customers’ expectations about customer service.

2. Start with FAQs - A large Help Center can take a lot of time to translate perfectly. To launch Help Centers in new languages sooner, pay for professional translations of your top 10 customer support questions, and machine translate the rest of the articles. Over time, you can continue polishing up other articles with professional translators. (Having trouble prioritizing articles? Look at the analytics to track the web traffic to each article.)

3. Centralize and automate using translation software - Translating your Help Center on a regular basis doesn’t necessarily mean more Help Centers to manage. By using a translation management system (TMS), you can track articles that require translation in one place. You can set up workflows that automatically assign articles to translators and track progress within a single dashboard.

4. Collaborate with other co-workers who are translating content - The strongest localization initiatives are company-wide. When every department - marketing, product, customer success, and so on - are invested in offering localized content for global audiences, this provides customer experiences that are consistent and appealing throughout the customer journey. If another department is already translating, chances are they may already be using a TMS. Ask them!

5. Remove copy/paste tasks from your list of translation responsibilities - The biggest time saver we’ve seen for brands beginning to localize new content is automating the way new source content reaches translators. Rather than copying and pasting new content into an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet to share with translators, there are integrations between content platforms and TMS’s that can automatically package new content together and pass them off to translators.

For customer service managers or knowledge base managers using Zendesk or Salesforce Knowledge to manage their Help Centers, Smartling offers integrations between these platforms and Smartling’s localization solution. Chat with us to learn more.

Supporting Global Customers From Start to Finish

Businesses are increasingly relying on customers outside of their initial target market to propel their company growth. To keep these customers happy, it’s important to provide good customer service to support any questions or concerns that come up - while remembering that customers may speak a language outside of your company’s primary language. Localized online help centers are the most scalable form of customer service your company can provide.