Unless you’re the only company selling a product, poor customer service pushes people towards your competitors. The challenge is even more significant when you operate in a multilingual market. International customer service is a whole different ball game. A customer that doesn’t speak English may have a simple problem to solve, but if you can’t communicate with them, they’ll likely find an alternative.
Nevertheless, there are many ways to improve your customer service experience in multiple languages.
Here’s how you can make sure all of your customers have an excellent experience with your brand.
How to Improve Your International Customer Service
1. Build Extensive Self-Help Docs and Tools
About 70% of people prefer finding their answers online rather than contacting customer service. That’s why self-help FAQs and knowledge base tools are excellent ways to let customers solve their own problems.
Some benefits of self-service help include:
- Lightening the load on your customer service staff.
- Customers can find answers without waiting in call or chat queues.
- Non-native English speakers can take their time to understand what you’ve written (if you haven’t already translated it).
We recommend creating a database with frequently asked questions, tutorials, and anything else customers may need to know.
Make sure there’s clear guidance on how to access these resources. If you have an extensive library of self-help docs but don’t tell customers where to find it, you’ll waste all your hard work!
Use links throughout the site and create a dedicated pillar page with links to everything in one place.
2. Use Online Language Translation Tools
A language translation tool may be your best bet if you don’t have the funding or budget to hire additional staff.
You don’t want your customer service staff to copy and paste inquiries all the time. The best tools allow you to convert messages into your desired language without manual input. But if you’re in a pinch, there are free translation tools that you can use.
Another option is to use a chatbot. These are AI helpers that support many different languages. While they can’t help with complex questions, they’re excellent for simple problems. And if they can’t solve the issue, they often point customers in the right direction.
3. Provide Customer Service Practice for Your Team
It takes more than just speaking (or writing) to customers in their native language to qualify as excellent customer service.
That’s why it’s crucial to always practice and improve international customer service skills.
Excellent customer service comes from:
- Knowing the product. Product knowledge ensures that your staff can solve any problems that come their way. It also speeds up resolution times which customers love since no one has the time to spend all day on hold.
- Positivity in the face of difficulty. Not every customer will be easy to deal with. Customer service staff should always be kind and patient with customers, even when they’re not cooperating.
- Not assuming what the customers’ problems are. After hearing similar daily inquiries, it’s easy to assume what a customer needs. However, making assumptions can lead to the wrong solution and an unhappy customer.
4. Offer a Variety of Ways for Clients to Get in Touch
While most customers prefer self-help resources, they still need other contact options if they can’t find their answer.
Some of the most popular channels include:
- Social media, e.g., Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Choice allows customers to pick whichever channel they’re most comfortable using. However, you can also create channels that focus on languages other than English. For example, you could mention that phone service is in English only, but you provide live chat support in any language.
5. Consider Outsourcing Your International Customer Service Function
Most consumers say excellent customer service deserves a higher price tag.
So investing more in high-quality customer service can help you make more money. An excellent option is to use BPO customer support.
Business Process Outsourcing is common in customer support, especially in eCommerce, where companies ship their products worldwide. Imagine trying to hire a customer service agent for every country worldwide!
Instead, using BPO customer support gives you the customer support you need at a fraction of the cost. You won’t have to train staff or create standard operating procedures.
Some companies even outsource all their customer service (regardless of the language), so they can focus on core parts of their business, such as marketing and product development.
Ready to Improve Your International Customer Service?
Planning is vital when it comes to effective multilingual customer service. You should be able to see the big picture and know what you’re trying to accomplish and how you plan to do it.
Here are some things that you should consider as you put together a plan:
- How many languages do all of your employees speak?
- What kind of experience do they have with each language?
- Will you outsource your customer service or keep it in-house?
There’s no one right way to handle multilingual customer service, and you can only keep trying until you find the best processes. However, the points ways we mentioned above are an excellent starting point.