4 Principles for Excelling at International Customer Service

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Customer experience (CX) strategy should be an ongoing discussion within every organization. The best companies revisit this all-important question often: What do our customers really want?

International organizations supporting diverse locales and languages–on both the customer and employee sides–have come to the conclusion that customers want personalized support. Here’s the catch: You can’t offer your customers personalized support if you don’t speak to them in their language–that is, their native language.

Language is table stakes. Figuring out the language dilemma is the requisite to deliver on all the other service points your customers are expecting; getting this right will produce enormous business outcomes for your company. When you communicate to your customers in their channel of choice, in the language they are comfortable in, you drive brand integrity and by extension customer loyalty; the natural outcome of this is retention.

When you step back and look at the big CX strategy picture, you’ll have no difficulty connecting the dots between native language service and customer retention. You can also easily imagine what the penalties are for failing to deliver on this language point and leaving your customers unsatisfied in their interactions with your brand.

With this premise in mind, let’s cover some key ways that language helps overcome the pain points of international customer service.

Principle 1: Emphasize multilingual operations in your business journey mapping

An unfortunate paradox that occurs in most international business operations is the tendency for organizations to separate customer experience strategy and multilingual operations as two separate workflows. This misstep directly undermines CX success.

Language is a critical friction point of international customer service and should be treated as a real business problem. By emphasizing language equity as a business objective, even over other more traditional CX practices, your leadership will start to think differently about their approach to journey mapping. Your strategy will begin to shift toward placing personalized support at the heart of your CX efforts, which will organically drive more meaningful relationships with your customers.

Principle 2: Optimize your contact center operations by leveraging innovation

Leveraging the right multilingual messaging platform allows you to reduce the complexity and costs of your entire contact center operations.

Using tools that remove the language barrier in your support approach allows you to eliminate the necessity of hiring candidates based on specialized language skills. This broadens your hiring pool, enabling you to focus on the skill sets that truly matter for your organization.

By achieving language equity, you will also save tremendously on costs. As you’ll no longer need to seek out bilingual agents from different parts of the world, you can now consolidate your contact center operations in a single low-cost location. From this central hub, your unilingual agents can effectively serve your customers no matter where they are or what language they speak.

Principle 3: People are people–the nuances make all the difference

Most international CX thought leaders will agree that people, despite their diverse backgrounds, share more commonalities than differences. You don’t need to rewrite the playbook for every customer region. If you take a people-oriented approach to CX, you’ll win the interaction 9 times out of 10. Kindness, fairness, and attentiveness—these aspects of customer service are universal.

Even if you use translation technology to communicate in your customers’ native language, you still have to watch where you step, so to speak. Be sure to train your teams to understand and respect cultural nuances so that missteps do not occur. A few examples of what may differ from region to region:

  • Expectations for call times
  • Greeting formalities
  • Humor variations
  • Small talk preferences (the weather is usually a safe bet!)

When agents are able to nail the nuances, on top of communicating in the customer’s native language, we see all kinds of great benefits: improved engagement, increased tNPS, customer retention, etc.

Principle 4: Self-service will empower your customer base

If done right, your customers will not hold self-service automation against you–on the contrary, they’ll love it! With the evolution of conversational AI, chatbot technology has come a long way in recent years. You can scale and improve your chatbot experiences with the following considerations:

  1. Create a clean, no-frills chatbot UX (Google Dialogflow is easy to set up and integrate).
  2. Build a simple customer journey based on your top 20 call drivers.
  3. Add a translation feature to scale support.
  4. Take advantage of chatbot technology that detects the right moment to hand the conversation over to a human agent.

Self-service is a big arena to explore, and multilingual chatbots are a great starting point.

These are exciting times to be on the international front lines of customer service. Today, we have powerful multilingual solutions that can eliminate the language barrier–an obstacle that has frustrated global CX strategy leaders for so long. Keep multilingual operations at the heart of your approach and deliver the personalized service our customers deserve.

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