So you’ve decided that now is the time to go global and explore international markets! Bravo! You know that to make your global business a success you need to translate and localise websites, marketing assets, sales collateral and a whole host of other content, but what happens next?
One key thing that many companies forget when they start a global business is that next step. What happens when a potential customer visits your localised website and asks a question using a contact form? What happens if they send an inquiry via email, or even pick up the phone? Or perhaps they’ve bought a product from your ecommerce site and subsequently need support. Have you got the systems in place to handle international customer care issues?
5 Customer Care Challenges For Global Business
There are 5 key areas that any global business needs to address when managing customer care effectively. They are:
1. Global Time Differences
If your new global customers are in another time zone how will your company handle communications from your base in the UK? If you are expanding into markets in the Middle East you must also be aware that the working week is Sunday to Thursday, so while you’re enjoying a day off potential customers and existing clients may want to contact you.
It’s all about managing expectations. Customers will understand that time or cultural differences may mean that there is a delay in getting a response, but you need to let them know. If your company doesn’t have the resources to manage communications out of UK business hours it’s important to put in place tools to handle this.
Translated auto-responder emails and pre-recorded localised voice mail messages are straightforward solutions to this problem. Here you can manage expectations and let customers when to expect a response.
2. Replying To Emails In The Customer’s Native Language
As you’ve positioned your company as a global business with translated digital and print collateral, customers will expect to communicate in their native language with you. So what happens when an email arrives in your inbox, in a language you don’t understand?
If you have in-house or in-market native speaking employees, it may be a sensible arrangement for them to receive any emails and respond accordingly. However, if you’ve entered a new market with no in-house or local support the trusty auto-responder email is your friend!
Have a concise email prepared and translated into your target language or languages that essentially says, ‘we’ll get back to you’. You could also point recipients in the direction of further help in the form of translated and localised FAQs and other support information.
Next, you’ll need to translate their email. You could use a free translation tool for this, although they are not 100% reliable. These tools should give you a rough idea of what the inquiry is about, although more complex requirements may be lost in translation. However, you also need to consider how you will reply. Translating your response using Google Translate or similar, without any quality checks could lead to an embarrassing situation. What if you misinform your customer, promise more than you can deliver, or create a poor impression because your translation is inaccurate or use of language is sloppy?
It makes sense to use the services of in-house linguists or a dedicated translation service provider to ensure that all parties properly understand these key initial communications.
3. Speaking Directly Global Business Customers
Having set up a voice mail message in your target language, you will still need to respond to the customer. If you have a native language speaker within your company, perhaps they can handle these calls? It’s always worth exploring your internal linguistic capabilities before launching a global business to see whether you have skills in-house.
Alternatively, many providers offer telephone interpreting services such as our Comtec Talk service. These on demand services can be provided 24/7 in over 150 languages, allowing you to respond to calls in a timely fashion. Business interpreting services can also be used for teleconferences, or for discussing projects and other business.
4. Communicating On Social Media
Most businesses have a presence on social media and many customers use this platform to communicate with businesses in preference to other methods. As a global business, your customers in your target markets will also expect to find your company on social media.
Therefore you’ll need relevant social media accounts set up in your target markets and someone to manage them – ideally a native speaker. If this is not possible you can outsource this requirement to a linguist or translation agency, who can translate monthly social media content plans for you and also translate any interactions.
5. Providing Online Support
Having a comprehensive resource of translated digital assets can really help you manage communications with local customers. FAQs, sales information, terms and conditions, shipping and delivery, complaints etc. should all be translated and linked to from other platforms. Your auto-responder emails are a good place to start.
These documents and webpages may also need localisation; it is likely that whichever industry you work in, there will be differences in the way you conduct business overseas. For example, you may need to offer different payment methods as in some regions credit and debit cards are not widely used. You may need to explore shipping costs and ensure that you are transparent about these additional costs to your customers.
These customer care issues are easily resolvable with the help of in-house native speakers or by partnering with a translation provider you trust. Just make sure you get systems for handling them in place early so you can focus on making your global business a success!
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