Four Tips To Help You Break Through The Language Barrier
There are two ways you can grow a business. One is to acquire new customers. The other is to persuade your existing customers to spend more money with you. Most businesses need to do a combination of both. If you’re really on a mission to acquire new customers, then you may need to start breaking through the language barrier. Here are four tips to help.
Review your IT infrastructure
These days, even small businesses are often making great use out of IT. Some are crushing it on social media. Some are leveraging their websites to take the load off their human staff. Some are using custom software to achieve major business goals. Some are doing all of this and more.
Whatever you’re doing, you need to review it to make sure that it still works when you cross the language barrier. In some cases, this is just going to mean thinking through the practicalities of using two (or more) languages instead of one. For example, are you still going to use the same social media account or are you going to split your content between two (or more) accounts?
In other cases, this can mean a root-and-branch review of your current IT solution. For example, if you’re using any kind of custom software, then it’s probably going to need to be updated and thoroughly tested. This is definitely an occasion to invest in professional software testing services. As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Have your key assets properly localized
For practical purposes, a key asset is anything that helps to sell your company. This goes beyond designated sales and marketing content. It encompasses anything which plays an important role in the customer experience. That’s generally going to include most, if not all, of the content on your website, especially if you do any sort of ecommerce.
Localization is essentially translation taken a step further. Translation captures the core meaning of the original content. Localization fine-tunes this so that it reflects the specific nuances of a particular area where the language is spoken.
If you want an example of how this works in practice, think about US English, Canadian English, and UK English. A piece of content written in any one of those versions of English would almost certainly be perfectly understandable to speakers of the other two versions. It would, however, also clearly not be local to them. Localization addresses this.
There are a couple of ways you can tackle localization. One is just to have your content translated and localized in a single step. The other is to have a “base” translation and then have it localized for various regions. If your budget is really tight, you might just want to stick to the “base” translation to begin with but you will want it localized as soon as possible.
Figure out your customer support strategy
This is probably the single, trickiest part of breaking through the language barrier. You can minimize the challenge by maximizing your self-service opportunities. At the end of the day, however, you need to be realistic about the fact that at least some customers are going to need some form of personalized assistance at some point in their journey with you.
The good news is that chatbots can now do a lot to help manage those queries. There are two main ways they can help you. Firstly, they can guide customers to resources they might simply not have noticed (or bothered to look for). Secondly, they can provide holding responses and set expectations about when a customer can expect a proper answer.
If you really get on top of the chatbot game, then you can often field a high percentage of queries through them. You are, however, still going to need some way to deal with the queries which do need a customized human response. This means that either you need customer service agents who speak the relevant language or you need translators (or both).
The advantage of having customer support agents who speak the language is that it generally gives you the shortest response time. That said, this only applies when you actually have the staff. Hiring agents with language skills can be a challenge especially if you want them to work on-site. Using translators may take longer but they may be easier to find.
Make sure you have plenty of backup
You’re probably only too familiar with the challenges of recruiting and retaining staff. You’re also probably only too aware that the more skilled staff are, the harder they usually are to recruit, retain and replace. You need to keep this reality very much front and center when you think about how to manage your customer support for the new language(s).
Make it a priority to find agencies and/or freelancers to fill in any gaps when needed. Then make sure that any training materials you use are as comprehensive as they can possibly be. This will help to shorten the learning curve for any new-starter, temp, or freelancer.