When customer service goes wrong, a business suffers a loss in its reputation, along with that upset customer. Further, that customer may make his negative experience quite public, on social media and even consumer review sites.
The other issue that now appears is that businesses have an ever-growing foreign-speaking audience. And those audiences need successful customer service experiences too. The challenge for businesses is how to maintain a great multilingual customer service function. It’s a challenge to be sure. Here are 5 tips to get to that place.
1. Use Online Translation Tools
Customer service may be one function that can be served well, at least in part, by translation tools. When machines can be “taught” many of the most common questions or issues that customers may contact customer support for. These occur in the form of live chats and emails that confirm orders, provide shipping details, and provide future offers.
Because these machines are taught the language of the business niche, and because they can also be programmed to turn a customer over to a live person if they cannot compute a customer need or question. Check out some of the newer translation software offerings and see how one or more might fit your needs.
The benefit here is that it is the cheapest solution. But it doesn’t meet the problem of the need for more complex customer service. For that, a translator or interpreter will be needed.
2. Internal Multi-Lingual Support
Some companies may have foreign-speaking employees, either in-house or remote. Calling upon them when needed is certainly free of charge, and a customer will feel very comfortable with the conversation.
There are two issues with this approach. First, someone from accounting is not a trained customer service agent and may not have the answers or the methods to resolve issues. He will have to relay responses back and forth. The other issue, of course, is that there may not be an internal multilingual staff to cover all the languages needed.
3. Phone Interpreters
This model involves a number of on-call interpreters in a three-way conversation. The interpreter then translates what each party says to the other.
This is a relatively inexpensive method because these on-call interpreters are either paid by the call or receive a monthly contract with pay to be available. Many translation companies offer such services with on-call interpreters. Look for the best translation service online that will be able to offer this.
The downside, of course, is that this type of customer service is only available via telephone and perhaps chat conversations. Customers cannot use self-service, for example, which is growing in attractiveness.
4. Contracting Out with Customer Service Call Centers in Foreign Countries
This can get a bit pricey, but, again, having access to their own native language agents provides lots of comfort to that target audience. Of course, this will require some training of these agents, and that can bring costs up even more.
The downside here is that your business really has no control of the behaviors of those call center employees nor will they necessarily be able to provide the specific solutions that require some flexibility on the part of an in-house customer support staff. There will be wait times, as an agent from that call center checks with your in-house staff when questions cannot be answered or issued quickly resolved.
5. Pushing Out Contacts from Your Central In-House Customer Service Department
As you move into a foreign country, you can set up a small call center, even on a contract basis. When a customer makes contact, that inquiry or problem can be pushed out to that small center. This can be done automatically, as the contact is made. As your business grows in that country, you can expand that call center.
This tip is a good one because it allows your budget to become larger than your profits do. But again, omnichannel and self-service support is not “covered.”
A Work in Progress…
Multilingual customer support is not what it should be for businesses moving into global markets. Foreign language-speaking customers still have issues with self-service, with wait times while translators and interpreters are called upon, and when remote contact centers may not have agents who can immediately answer questions and resolve issues. Still, these five tips will give you what businesses are currently doing.
Author Bio: Merissa Moore is a researcher, consultant, and frequent contributor to blogs on all things of current interest to companies with a digital presence. In her limited spare time, Moore dabbles in gourmet cooking and advocacy for animal rights.