Picture this common scenario. Roberto, an Italian customer who has recently bought one of your products online, is confused by the instructions and wants to speak to your customer service department. He calls up the phone number, but when he gets through, finds there is no one in the office who can speak Italian. He tries to get by in his broken English, but eventually gives up in frustration.

This is an all-too-common scenario when companies begin selling their products internationally. Unable to provide support in all their target customers’ languages, they lose out on potential repeat business, customers are left frustrated, and their reputation takes a hit.

Why does this problem arise – and what can you do about it?


Few businesses deliver truly multilingual customer service

Although English is the lingua franca of business, and many customers will be able to speak the language to a degree, assuming you’ll be able to deliver sufficient customer support in this language could be a costly mistake. Research shows that 29% of companies have lost customers because they failed to provide multilingual support. Indeed only 19% of companies actually deliver customer service in multiple languages – meaning that most firms are risking serious losses.


Related: Why relying on ‘international English’ is not enough


If your customers cannot explain their problems to you, request help or ask for instructions, the simple fact is that they will be much less likely to purchase your products again in future. Naturally enough, they will be wary of spending money if they know that they cannot easily get their problem solved.

While businesses are aware of this problem, hiring a large multilingual team who are continually available to offer customer service in multiple languages rarely makes economic sense. This means that many are simply forced to offer substandard customer service for their international clients.


4 benefits of providing multilingual customer support

By investing in multilingual customer support, you can ensure that a far higher number of your customers are able to have their problems resolved and use your products and services more effectively. And this has considerable benefits for your business’s bottom line, as well as your brand:

  1. It increases customer satisfaction

According to one survey, 72% of customer service leaders say they saw an increase in customer satisfaction ratings when they were able to deliver customer service in people’s mother tongue. Satisfied customers, of course, lead to more referrals, new business and growth.


  1. Develop greater trust

By making the effort to speak your customers’ language you will build trust. One study revealed that 70% of customers felt more loyal to businesses that provided support in their language. Loyal customers are, of course, the basis of any sustainable business model.


  1. Gives you a competitive advantage

Research shows that people are more likely to buy from a business that provides information about products in their own language. By offering support in your customers’ language, they are more likely to buy from your business than your competitors. The same study showed that this holds true even if your products are more expensive.


  1. Leads to more sales

Another survey showed that almost three-quarters of customers say they would be willing to make repeat purchases from a company that offered after-sales in their mother tongue. Being able to communicate easily with your after-sales team gives them greater confidence in your business and therefore means they are more likely to make further purchases in the future.

Recommended: How to improve communications in international business


How to offer customer service in more languages

Delivering customer service in multiple languages has traditionally been challenging and costly. As they expand internationally, many firms would traditionally need to invest in employing local staff in contact centres before training them up to answer questions about your products. This also made international expansion slower, since companies could often only grow one country at a time.

However, with improving technology it is becoming much easier to offer customer support in multiple languages.

With Tala, your customers can call your customer service team using Microsoft Teams and speak directly to support staff in their own language. Tala instantaneously interprets what they are saying into your customer service team’s language, and produces an audio file for them to listen to. Your support staff can then respond in English (or any of the other 46 languages we support) and this is interpreted instantaneously back into the customer’s tongue.

In this way you can offer customer service in a wide variety of languages spoken in all major markets around the world – without having to invest in a large and expensive multilingual customer service team.

To learn more about how Tala works, and to find out how it can help you to speak your customers’ language, contact us today for a demo.