Multi-Lingual Customer Service is a Must

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It might be daunting to engage call center representatives with language translator skills, but many customers are thrilled to find support information in their native tongue online. Self-service is the ticket.

Consumers are gearing up to acquire more high-tech gadgets from big box stores and online retailers at highly competitive prices. This is a great time to consider how companies can ensure customers are satisfied and successful with their purchases and how they can plan ahead for 2010.

Picture this: Manuel waited in line for hours to get the best sales deals. He gave up dinner with his family and battled cold temperatures through the night so that he could be the first person in line at his local big box technology retailer when the doors opened at 5a.m. It was worth the long wait, because he walked out with a new 50-inch television at a rock bottom price — complete with features in Spanish, a requirement of his family and friends.

Now — the moment of truth. It is time to set up his prized possession — his reward for his long wait in line. Manuel carefully unpacks the TV and strategically places it in the family room of his house for all to enjoy. Now all he has to do is figure out the setup and programming.

However, Manuel makes a horrifying discovery: The programming menu is stuck on the English main menu screen and won’t advance to the next menu screen or switch over to Spanish. The manufacturer did provide the quick start guide in Spanish to help with the setup, but it offers no help in troubleshooting this error. The support manual is available as a PDF on the company’s Web website, because the company had the vision to be provide a translated version, created by a professuiional langauge translator, however – Manuel doesn’t know this …..

All of a sudden, the time spent in line, the cold weather, and the frustration of missing dinner come flooding back and are aimed squarely in one place: the manufacturer of the TV.

21st Century customer service will require comapnies to provide customers with the same depth and quality of information for self-service, regardless of the language they speak.

Providing a self-service option on your website is great, but if you are selling globally or to diverse groups in a particular region, remember that customers prefer to interact with companies in their native language. Manuel prefers Spanish and would have been thrilled to know there was a self-service option available to him in his native language.

Oftentimes, companies will translate product information required for prepurchase into many languages but stop short of professional multilingual language translation because of the cost. This sends a signal to customers that they are important enough to sell to but not important enough to support. Manuel was starting to wonder if the company’s Spanish-speaking customers were less valuable than its English-speaking customers.

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