4 Keys for Multilanguage Customer Service Success

As digital and mobile technologies continue to evolve, brands are forced to look at new, innovative ways to reach customers across global markets to remain competitive and gain market share. A recent study found that 55 percent of respondents buy only at websites where information is presented in their own language—further emphasizing the need to approach content strategies from a global point of view. With this in mind, brands often make big investments in website and app localization technologies in an effort to ensure they are reaching their global audience on the devices they interact with most. However, once brands have invested in localization strategies across all content and channels, there are key steps needed to service global customers in a seamless way—from a customer care standpoint, it all starts with language.

Language is arguably one of the most important components of customer communications, especially when it comes to customer care. A study from Lionbridge and the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) found that language diversity is projected to increase over the next three years, with 52 percent of contact centers expecting the volume of nonprimary-language communications to increase over this time. Additionally, the study reports that a majority of contact center leaders are aware that customers expect to receive service in their native language when contacting a brand. However, 79 percent of contact centers have customers who are not native speakers of the primary language(s) that they serve. As a result, contact centers need to think proactively about how they’ll support their nonprimary-language-speaking customers. If you’ve localized your website, providing customer service in that same language is essential to customer satisfaction and growth.

4 Key Takeaways for Multilingual Customer Service Success

To maintain attention and loyalty from global customers and optimize localization investments, companies need to embrace several customer service best practices.

Voice is no longer the prominent channel for customer support. In fact, Forrester found that 76 percent of consumers look to company FAQ websites and 58 percent prefer online chat options as an initial resource. As a result, brands and their contact centers should implement the following elements into their customer service strategies to ensure they’re providing quality global customer experiences:

Globalization is a requirement, not an option. With today’s evolving technology and business landscape, global markets are increasingly diverse and connected, and the distinction between domestic and global is shrinking. As a result, even if brands don’t have plans to expand worldwide, they must manage their contact centers as if they’re a global company which means supporting customers across all languages. Multilingual support doesn’t have to be hard. New solutions, including second-generation real-time translation software, can add high-quality multilingual capabilities to your existing contact center communications platforms.

Embrace journey mapping for nonprimary-language customers.By implementing journey mapping, brands better understand customer interactions and reduce overall customer effort. However, journey maps are typically done for primary languages only, which leads to challenges for nonprimary-language-speaking customers. Today’s globally minded companies need to prioritize journey mapping and key customer metrics like churn, CSAT, customer effort, and NPS across all languages. Again, if you’ve localized your website or app, this is a natural next step.

Enable 24/7 customer support across channels. Today’s consumer is always-on, always connected, and increasingly expects 24/7 service. To meet these high expectations, contact centers must reach customers in new and innovative ways, such as mobile and social, in real time. By enabling a variety of channel options, coupled with comprehensive language support, brands can reduce the amount of inbound calls to their contact centers, which drives down overall costs while improving the customer experience.

Deliver seamless self-service options. Forrester research (mentioned above) shows that consumers are more likely to visit a website before picking up a phone, which is particularly true for the millennial generation who grew up with self-service options. As such, online chat is a critical component of effective online customer engagement. In fact, consumers are likely to abandon an online purchase if they’re unable to resolve their problem or can’t locate a live chat option. As a result, brands must provide self-service channels, from chat to forum/community and mobile support, and these channels must be enabled with omnilingual capabilities to benefit all customers. If the majority of content is displayed in only a single or small group of languages, the service channel isn’t helping non-primary speaking customers.


While brands look to invest in app and website localization strategies to reach their global audience, they must also embrace critical strategies to ensure they can effectively service an increasingly diverse customer base. The end result will be less burden placed on contact center reps as well as better customer experiences, global brand consistency and brand loyalty.

Tom Tseki is the vice president and general manager, GeoFluent and Customer Care Solutions, at Lionbridge. Tseki is a contact center industry veteran, and his experience and expertise include helping organizations implement and leverage omnichannel customer care strategies to improve CX, increase revenue, and gain contact center efficiencies. He has a deep background in contact center technology as it relates to customer communication, analytics, and workforce optimization. He works closely with contact center and BPO leaders on strategies to improve care by reducing customer effort—leading to increased CSAT and NPS. 

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