Company, Localization

The importance of speaking your customers’ language in customer service

When you’re a business owner, nothing comes close to the disappointment and sometimes even rage of customers who are interested in purchasing...

Written by Veronika Sinicina · 4 min read >
Happy customer service example

When you’re a business owner, nothing comes close to the disappointment and sometimes even rage of customers who are interested in purchasing your product or service, but are met with a sales or a customer service representative who doesn’t speak their language. 

And it doesn’t matter whether your business is a local cafe in a touristy location, an online store selling cat mugs to the Asian market, or a mobile app striving for international stardom.

It’s the same for all industries: if your customer service doesn’t speak the people’s tongue, expect to face some serious customer dissatisfaction. 

Don’t believe us? Let’s dive in deeper, shall we? 

Here are 5 reasons why the importance of ensuring customer service in the native language of your clients is paramount.  

1. You’ll increase sales

It’s not a secret that people – 75% of consumers, to be precise – are more likely to purchase from a brand if their website and product information is available in their native language

Can you imagine all the sales you’re losing by not adopting a multi-lingual approach? 

The same goes for not offering customer service in the native language of your customers. A Common Sense Advisory study shows that 74% of consumers are more likely to purchase again from the same brand if after-sales care was offered in their own language. 

So, if you want to see those sales grow, get talking and translating. Pronto.

2. Get access to a wider market 

You might think that English might be widely spoken in all corners of the world. In truth, nearly 90% of consumers won’t even consider buying from an English website if they don’t speak and can’t read English. 

So, how do you tap into that pool of cross-border market and get the international audience interested in your products or services? No surprise here – you have to speak their language. 

And you’ll see that it’s totally worthwhile – studies have shown that 70% of the customers gave positive feedback to companies offering multilingual customer services and language interpretation options. 

3. Build brand loyalty and consumer trust

Imagine this scenario:

You’ve bought a new set of headphones from an up-and-coming Icelanding hardware company. But it turns out – their product doesn’t work. 

Wouldn’t it feel so much more comfortable to be able to solve the problem in a language familiar to you? Instead of dealing with the situation and trying to get over an English-Icelandic language hurdle? 

That’s the thing about being able to speak to someone in your language – it establishes trust, which is essential at all stages of the purchasing cycle, including customer support. 

When you offer multilingual customer support, it also increases brand loyalty – because the customers know that there will be someone to understand them and their needs. 

And if you’re in the business for the long term, you don’t want to focus on a one-time sale to a customer. You want the customers who know they will have great experience in their own language, so they’re likely to return – again and again. 

4. You’ll avoid miscommunication

We mostly reach out to customer service when we’ve encountered a problem. Either something with the product or service is not working the way we want it to or we’re unsure how to get the wished result. In both cases, we’re in a state of uncertainty

In that state of mind, it’s very easy to become upset when things don’t go our way, and that’s where miscommunication, angry emails, and yelling via phone usually happens. To avoid that, it’s better to communicate with the customers in their own language because:

  1. They can express themselves more easily 
  2. You’ll not lose important bits of information in translation
  3. You’ll remove the customer’s anxiety of speaking another language 

Author and multicultural expert Michael Soon Lee agrees. If the customer is upset, they might not want the extra mental effort of communicating in a second language. “Even if you only have a basic command of the customer’s native language, it may take longer to get your point across, but the customer is much more likely to be receptive and understanding.”

5. Gain a competitive advantage

Struggling with a language can be extremely uncomfortable. It can set up an emotional barrier between your company and your potential clients. 

Think about it. Suppose you had experience with two similar companies, both selling similar products of equal value and quality. One brand provided a customer service rep who spoke your language, easily answering every question in your mother tongue and even throwing in an appropriate cultural reference. The other company did not have such support. 

Who would you go to in the future? You probably already know the answer. 

And the statistics confirm this. Many consumers (66% in fact) will pay more for a product because of the exceptional customer service they receive from a company. And that exceptional service includes multilingual support. 

Now what? 

By now, you probably understand the importance of multilingual customer service and speaking your clients’ language. The next steps would be figuring out your plan of action – do you need to have a team that ensures customer service in 20+ languages 24/7? Or is Google Translate good enough to translate some of your incoming customer emails? 

Here’s how to get started:

Understand the scope of languages needed

Analyze which languages come into your contact center or inbox most frequently. Are there languages that the existing customer service team can cover – and to what capacity, comparing to English? 

And what are the most common languages not supported by your agents, but demanded by customers? The best way to get to the bottom of this is to take an in-depth look into your target market and your current customer base. You can easily do that using the Lokalise for Intercom app, which collects and analyzes statistics on the most popular languages appearing in your support enquiries. 

Use translation tools

As your company grows and you start handling a fair amount of foreign language conversations, you might need to bring in the big guns. At this stage, you need translation services that can automatically translate non-English conversations on your website, mobile app, or in your product. 

Two platforms that can easily help your business communicate across platforms is Lokalise and Intercom. Now, with the Lokalise for Intercom app, you can communicate in your customers’ language – Lokalise ensures real-time translations of incoming and outgoing customer support messages. 

Localize support pages

Make sure your customers have a way of helping themselves before turning to your team for support. Lokalise customer support pages, guidelines, how-to lists, and the FAQ page in all supported languages. This will give your customers a chance to find answers – and perhaps even solve certain issues on their own. 

Localize the entire webpage

If you think that localizing your entire website instead of separate landing pages is difficult, we’re here to say – it depends. It all comes down the tools you use. With the right translation management system, you’ll be good to go. That’s why you need to give Lokalise a try. 

When using Lokalise, large-scale tasks that you dread doing, like translating your entire web presence, will turn into an absolute pleasure. The platform is developer-friendly, it’s easy-to-use, and you’ll be able to save time and improve the quality of translations with the help of visual context.

Final conclusions

The global markets are becoming more and more diverse. With that increases the need to understand your customers’ cultural background and to communicate with them as seamlessly as possible. This includes speaking your customers’ language.

After all, effortless customer experience is no less important than having a neat website or appealing product design. In the end, it might just be the final straw that makes people choose your brand instead of your competitors. 

So, if you want to stand out and ensure multilingual service, it’s time to get started. As a minimum, give Lokalise for Intercom a try. You’ll see for yourself that it’s an absolute delight to use. What’s even more – it’s absolutely free.