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The Importance of Offering Multilingual Customer Service

In this video we discuss the reasons your business should be offering multilingual customer service.

April 21st, 2020


Rob Mead


Hi guys,  it’s Rob here today from FM Outsource to talk about multilingual customer service and how to provide it in todays connected world. Now, I know that now might seem like an odd time to be talking about this, given the connotations with international expansion, but actually, with no one knowing the impact of Covid-19 on global supply chains, it’s really important now to be prepared for whatever comes next.  

And secondly, what people often forget is that multilingual often refers to communication within a single territory. If we take the UK for example, it is a massively multicultural place and not being able to provide a service in a language other than English can actually massively limit the potential customer pool.  

Now, there are a couple of things to bear in mind when thinking about this. Firstly, multilingual massively improves your efficiency and your effectiveness, because, not only will your first time contact resolution increase if you’re able to deal with people in their preferred language, but also the effectiveness of their communication with be massively improved and their customer sentiment will increase alongside that.  

Second, you will hugely stand out from your competition. This is especially relevant in domestic markets, where if you offer a language for a certain subset of the populationyou are standing out from many other competitors who only offer English language. And, again, in today’s environment, where everyone is being pushed towards digital commerce from not being able to go out to their preferred high street retailers, that can be a big differentiator.  

And third, of course, is the ability to grow your global footprint. Let’s not ignore it; it’s huge, international expansion is on many peoples minds and if you’re unable to provide that language service, you’re not going to get very far.  

So, we’ve talked about why it’s important, but how do you actually go about multilingual expansion?  

Well first is the obvious one: you need to determine your languages. You’ll have a huge amount of customer profile data at your fingertips that you can use to begin with, but also don’t forget about your website analytics. See where people are visiting you from, see where your orders are coming from, look at the local dialects in those areas and work out what can make the biggest impact for you.  

Next, don’t forget to use visuals. Whatever language you’re in, from English, to Chinese, to Polish, to German, using visuals massively improve peoples understanding. Don’t neglect it and think that because you’ve invested in a multilingual services, you should ignore the visual and other advice you’d use anyway.  

Third, don’t forget languages differ from culture and you need to have an understanding of both. The ability to offer a language needs to be matched by the ability to understand that culture in terms of time periods that they’re most active. What are their likely cultural points of reference? Use of idioms, etc. It’s no good using a translation tool, under these circumstances because the real-life cultural understanding that goes alongside a language will differentiate you from the people that are using a Google API.  

Fourth, choose your channels. Different countries, different territories, different population groups will all use different channels as their preference. For example, WhatsApp: huge in the UK, but virtually unknown in China. WeChat: huge in China, virtually unknown in the UK. You need to understand who you’re speaking to, to understand where you’ll be speaking to them from.  

Now, of course, this is all really difficult, so it is advisable to get an experience partner to work with. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention FM Outsource, but the most important thing to do is to go out there, do the research, and speak to people who have done it who can really help you miss some of those easy-to-make first mistakes. 

That’s all for today. If you would like any advice, please get in touch via the email address that should be on the screen at the moment, or reach out to me in the comments, on LinkedIn, get in touch; we’d love to hear from you, and we hope this has been helpful.  


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