Multilingual Customer Service and Why It Is Important in 2023

Author: Wil Sokanovic | Date: 23/09/2022

The link between customer service and satisfaction is clear for all to see. If a business is able to improve customer service, they are much more likely to boost overall customer satisfaction. 

And as we all know, satisfied customers tends to result in increased brand loyalty. Did you know that: 

  • 93% of customers are more likely to make repeat purchases from companies that offer excellent customer service.
  • On the flip side, 61% of customers say that they would switch to a competitor after just one bad experience.

In this digital age, many businesses cater to a global audience across numerous time zones. In order to meet all of their customers’ needs and expand their offering to new markets, they must be able to offer multilingual customer service. 

In this article, we’ll explain what multilingual customer service is, why it matters, and how you can go about providing it in your business. Let’s get started.

Additional reading: Multilingual customer service is just one strategy for improving customer support. Check out our free eBook for a comprehensive outline for building a more efficient contact centre — Your Contact Centre Could Operate Better. A Lot Better

What is multilingual customer service?

As the name suggests, multilingual customer service involves providing top-level customer support in multiple languages as part of the overall customer experience — whether through phone support, help pages, live chat, or any other digital channel.

The goal here is to break down language barriers, allowing international customers to easily communicate their needs and receive assistance in their local language. 

Think about it from your customers’ side. They may think that your product or service is amazing, but if they can’t communicate with your support staff due to an insurmountable language barrier, they’ll be forced to look elsewhere.  

Multilingual customer service enables businesses to expand seamlessly into new territories and benefit their bottom line. Simultaneously, customers can get the most out of products or services regardless of their location or language.

The benefits of multilingual customer service

Multilingual customer service yields many benefits for companies that are able to implement it effectively. The most important of these include:

  • Increased customer retention. Customers expect to have issues solved with minimum hassle, which means communicating their problem and receiving a response in their preferred language. If you can meet customers’ expectations and consistently provide first call resolution, they’ll stick around for the long term.
  • Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. Delivering outstanding, language-specific customer service leads to customer satisfaction, which in turn leads to customer loyalty. 
  • A better understanding of customers. Being able to converse with customers in their first language will help you to fully understand their problems and wants — enabling you to provide a product and service that meets their needs.
  • A competitive advantage. In today’s highly competitive business environment, you must strive to offer more than your competitors. In a world where multilingual customer support is still a perk, not a given, offering it will put you one step ahead of the competition. 

Providing multilingual customer service

When it comes to providing a multilingual service, there are a number of strategies contact centres can take — each with its own benefits and challenges. In this section, we’re going to delve into two key examples. 

Hiring multilingual agents

At first glance, this strategy seems like the most logical option — multilingual or native speakers are surely the best bet when it comes to understanding and meeting customers’ language-specific needs. But this approach comes with significant challenges and costs as well. 

Building a customer support team that’s capable of communicating effectively in multiple languages requires a business to solve all sorts of logistical problems — and all at a great cost:

  • How will you hire the additional staff? 
  • Where will they be located? 
  • Who will train and manage them? 
  • How will you route the correct customers to the right agents?

Businesses must weigh up the financial and time-related costs of expanding their customer support function to cover multiple languages and regions against the benefits this support will bring.

Increase self-service support

Customer service doesn’t have to involve a two-way dialogue. By compiling a comprehensive multilingual knowledge base, customers can bypass the need to talk to a customer support agent and find the solutions to their issues themselves. 

This approach can include:

  • Help documentation
  • Frequently asked questions (FAQs) sections
  • How-to guides — whether in text or video format
  • Customer forums, where experienced users are able to address queries directly

Allowing customers to help themselves in this way is a win-win. Customers just want a solution to their problem as soon as possible, and many will be happy to avoid traditional customer support routes — assuming that help-related content is clearly presented and well organised. At the same time, this frees up contact centre staff to focus on solving complex, high-value issues and delivering a consistently high level of service. 

Again, however, this approach is a major undertaking that requires a good deal of time and resources to get right — and that’s in one language. Ensuring that self-service support options are offered clearly and effectively in multiple languages increases the complexity of this strategy severalfold. 

Technology can support voice and text translation

While many customers still prefer to contact support teams by phone, the trend toward digital text-based channels such as email, live chat, and even social media is growing in popularity. 

This opens the door for real-time translation tools, allowing contact centres to offer instant, seamless, and customisable support across multiple languages and channels, without the need to expand teams and hire language-specific agents. 

As the customer types their message, the programme analyses the text and translates it in real-time, allowing the agent to quickly understand the inquiry and respond swiftly. The agent’s response is then translated back into the customer’s language. From the customer’s side, it seems like they are talking to someone proficient in their native language. 

This approach cuts down the time and costs associated with hiring and training multilingual agents, allowing monolingual agents to provide support to customers from across the world with ease. 

Further reading: Want to know more about how technology is transforming the way businesses deliver customer support? Take a look at our recent article — 4 Technologies Improving Customer Service in 2023

Support your customers with Awaken’s multilingual agent guidance

For businesses looking to successfully expand into new markets or just improve the customer experience they offer across numerous territories, multilingual customer service is essential.

At Awaken, we understand that outstanding customer service has the potential to provide businesses with a significant competitive advantage in any industry. That’s why we built Awaken Translate to help you support customers in their native language.

With the help of our innovative software, businesses can access real-time translation capabilities that allow their agents to communicate with every customer in their preferred language. In addition to that, our bi-directional text translation makes it possible to analyse customer communications across channels in any language.

By working with Awaken, contact centres can benefit from:

  • Cutting-edge conversational translations, rather than the literal ones machine translation engines use that can be difficult to understand 
  • Reduced costs by eliminating the need to hire, train, and retain multilingual agents

If you’d like to learn more about how Awaken Translate can help transform the customer service experience you provide around the world, get in touch with our team today to book a demo.