International marketing

6 Proven Ways to Boost Your Multilingual Customer Service

6 Proven Ways to Boost Your Multilingual Customer Service
Merve Alsan
Written by
Merve Alsan
Merve Alsan
Written by
Merve Alsan
Elizabeth Pokorny
Elizabeth Pokorny
Merve Alsan
Reviewed by
Elizabeth Pokorny
Updated on
May 31, 2024

Providing multilingual customer support is a necessity for global businesses. The shift towards digital has meant that consumers no longer have to rely on their local department stores, meaning greater competition for brands worldwide. As businesses seek to compete internationally, effective multilingual communication can be a major point of difference in the marketplace.

By using language and terms your customers understand, multilingual support can lead to increased loyalty and higher rates of satisfaction. In turn, these build foundations for growth, enabling a business to expand its reach. Brands that fail to provide multilingual support omit a key facet of personalization. Failing to personalize reduces trust and increases the chances of customers shopping elsewhere.

In this article, we’ll demonstrate proven strategies for improving multilingual customer service. You’ll discover how to provide a great experience for an international customer base and gain a real advantage over your competitors.

Benefits of Offering Multilingual Customer Service

Speaking your customers' language is more than just a courtesy – it's a major stepping stone to success. Here's why multilingual customer service gives any business a competitive edge in the marketplace:

  • Enhanced customer experience: When customers can explain their problems and get answers in their native language, they feel heard and understood. A personal touch builds consumer confidence, and 95 percent of respondents in a Statista survey rated their personalization strategies as successful.
  • Increased customer loyalty: Studies show that 70% of customers are more likely to stick with brands that communicate with them in their preferred language.
  • Broader market reach: Offering services in multiple languages allows you to tap into new customer bases and expand into markets around the world.
  • Improved brand perception: Multilingual support shows customers that you care about their needs and respect their culture. A customer-centric approach naturally enhances a brand’s global image.
  • Operational efficiency: Clear communication in any language decreases misunderstandings and allows you to solve problems much faster.
  • Competitive advantage: In competitive markets, multilingual customer support can be a Unique Selling Point (USP) for brands. Digital trading enables companies around the world to compete on product range and price points, so every advantage counts.
  • Sales conversion rates: When customers can get help and information in their own language, they are more likely to make a purchase. Personalized Calls-to-Action (CTAs) have been found to increase conversions by 202%.

Proven Strategies for Boosting Multilingual Customer Service

Providing multilingual customer service is a great starting point. But real success depends on performance. We’ve identified six proven strategies to adopt when setting up your own overseas support center:

1. Identify Your Customers’ Language Preferences

Incorporating your customer's language preferences can mean the difference between success and failure. Many countries – such as China, Canada, and India – are multilingual, depending on region and/or preference.

Website analytics can reveal the geographical areas of users, and the terms they use on search engines to find your site. You can also analyze the language used on support requests.

Seeking direct feedback through customer surveys or online forums can further help to establish language preferences. And website pop-ups that offer the user language choices not only provide useful data but increase customer satisfaction.

2. Hire Local-Language Agents

For personalized multilingual support, hire customer service agents who are fluent in the local language of your target market. Native speakers bring more than just language skills to the table. They’ll have an understanding of the cultural nuances and communication styles of your customers, leading to more positive interactions.

Given the added costs that hiring local language agents can bring, some businesses omit this facet from their expansion strategy. However, it’s worth weighing up potential costs against the likely gains of improved satisfaction and retention rates. Such gains form stepping stones towards growth, so the investment is usually worth it.

If your business doesn’t have the capacity to hire a full-time team of agents, consider partnering with a local customer support service. These act as agents-for-hire, saving you the time and cost of employing an in-house team.

You can also utilize data to discover the most likely hours of support required. In some industries, customer service may be manageable using part-time workers at specific hours of the day.

3. Ensure Effective Translation and Localization

An effective user journey needs to go beyond customer service – you’ll need to localize every touchpoint with your brand as well. This means reflecting local preferences across marketing materials, landing pages, email confirmations, and beyond. Potential customers can then enjoy a personalized experience every time they interact with your business.

While translation focuses on words, localization needs to consider the bigger picture. This includes local preferences in cases where more than one word can be used. It should also encompass recent trends and avoid any out-of-date phrases.

Localized content marketing should consider using idioms, cultural references, and design preferences. The meaning of colors, shapes, and styles can differ from one country to another. Getting the finer details wrong may even offend the very people you’re hoping to attract. For instance, in the West, the color white often symbolizes purity. However, in many Eastern cultures, white is associated with mourning, being the color worn at funerals.

Partnering with professional translators and localization experts can be invaluable in getting things right. Dedicated website translation tools like Weglot can help to ensure every aspect of your customer journey on your site is effectively translated and localized.

Alongside translating entire websites in a single click, Weglot can manage expansion projects, bringing translators, developers, and designers together on a single platform.

Check out our in-depth guide to website localization for further information and best practices when going global!

Weglot’s translation dashboard

4. Embrace Cross-Cultural Best Practices

As we’ve seen, multilingual support isn't just about language itself. Cultural sensitivity and knowledge of local customs play vital parts in communicating with a multilingual audience. Consider these elements of culturally-appropriate customer service:

  • Tone of voice: Should language be formal or friendly? This varies across cultures, and amongst different age demographics.
  • Support channels: Different markets favor different communication channels. Some are happy using chatbots or social media to interact with a brand. Others prefer to speak with human agents.
  • Working hours: Align your support availability with the time zones and expectations of your customer base. Competitor research – combined with your own analytics – can help you decide when your team is most in demand.
  • Support language and imagery: Some cultures prefer direct instructions; others may prefer a softer approach.

To give an example of cultural differences in practice, studies show that Japanese users are more risk-averse than Americans. They want in-depth information and all their questions answered before making a purchase.

Furthermore, individualism has been found to be a more important trait in American culture than in Asia. Images showing single people are unlikely to have a positive effect on Asian users.

Advert from Coca-Cola brand, US
Advert from Coca-Cola, Japan

5. Harness the Power of Multilingual Chatbots

Chatbots have transformed customer service. They offer 24/7 availability and allow customers to have various questions answered without the need to wait in a queue. Ensuring your own bots are multilingual naturally gives your business an advantage.

Automated chatbots can identify a user’s language preferences, making communication easy. By connecting bots to your Customer Relationship Management System (CRM), data gained can help to refine wider localization efforts, like learning preferred phrases. Bots can also free up human agent time, allowing them to focus on the most complex issues.

However, chatbots come with their own challenges. They may struggle with language nuances, or understanding words in context. Chatbots tend to learn and adapt over time, but development can be costly. For getting the most out of these customer service aids, explore our in-depth guide to multilingual chatbots.

6. Leverage Multilingual Knowledge Bases to Empower Customers

Providing a multilingual knowledge base on your website empowers customers to resolve their own support issues. For many queries, users will be able to find the answers they require without needing to contact a service agent.

User guides, FAQs, and support articles are all great resources for taking the heat off your customer service team. Give these the same level of localization as the rest of your site, to ensure a good user experience.

Web translation solutions like Weglot streamline the process of translating, localizing, and managing a multilingual knowledge base. Alongside automated full-site translations, Weglot uses AI to learn and store local language preferences in its Translation Glossary. These can then be used across all written materials, ensuring a better consumer experience.

Furthermore, any content updates are automatically translated across all languages. Such features ensure consistency, reduce timescales, and help you deliver an exceptional multilingual website.

Weglot’s multilingual website confirmation screen

Optimizing your Multilingual Customer Service Strategy with Weglot

For a personalized customer experience, competitive advantage, and improved market penetration, providing multilingual customer support is a must. Understanding users when they need you most helps retention and fosters loyalty. In turn, this benefits your business by setting a solid foundation for growth.

Effective translation and localization are the cornerstones of any multilingual customer service strategy. Understanding native nuances, language preferences, and trends is vital for communicating with a new audience.

Every potential user interaction needs to be considered, from your landing pages and images, to your marketing materials and knowledge base. Such attention to detail ensures a personalized approach at all stages of the customer journey.

Weglot integrates effortlessly with all CMS, including WordPress, Webflow, Shopify, and many other popular options to give you a multilingual website instantly.

Automatic content detection can translate your site into over 110 languages, while the Translation Glossary lets you specify preferred words and phrases, resulting in a more personalized and consistent website. Furthermore, a centralized dashboard allows you to manage projects with multiple contributors.

Take the next step in optimizing your brand’s multilingual customer service by trying Weglot on your website for free!

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