Build Loyalty After the Sale with Customer-Driven Support Channels and Languages


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At a recent event I attended, Greg Oxton, executive director of the Consortium for Service Innovation, said that a company’s brand is, “what your customers say about your company to each other when you are not around.” This statement started an interesting dialogue in our company and with our customers and prospects. It is also a good starting point to consider how companies can do more to make sure they aren’t dropping the ball on customer communication and putting their brand at risk.

In an economy where people are cutting back everywhere you turn, how can you ensure that your customers are saying good things about your company so that your brand presence is positive, even when you aren’t around?

Most companies pay a lot of attention to what people think about the company when they are trying to make a sale, but there are a few things that companies big and small should consider to make sure customers are happy with the company and the experience even after they make a purchase. Below are three guidelines to ensure you don’t drop the ball on customer communication post purchases.

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of customer support

    The first one in the list is no surprise. If you were to stop any random person on the street and ask them what frustrates them about technology companies or service providers, you can confidently bet that they will say “customer support” is a big point of frustration.

    While it seems like support is always the easy target, you have to keep in mind that support is the main point of contact between a customer and the company once a product or service has been purchased. Anticipate this need, and welcome the customer’s post purchase return. Lots of time and money is spent to influence a person to buy a certain item or engage with a particular company, and once that customer is on board, you have someone that has invested time, money and emotion into a company or product. With this kind of investment, it makes sense why customers take bad customer service personally.

    Customer support should be treated as part of the ongoing sales and customer engagement process because happy customers leads to referrals, add on sales and a positive brand reputation.

  2. Treat all of your customers equally well; anticipate their needs

    Number two on the list—make sure that all of your customers have an equally great experience with your company. As a CEO, I routinely find myself standing in a security line at the airport. What everyone has in common while in that line is the expectation of a bad experience. My fellow travelers and I know that we may be randomly selected for secondary screening, that the rules may have changed or that we could end up in the line with the six people that think the 3-1-1 liquid rule doesn’t apply to them.

    As a company, you don’t want your customers to feel like they are at the mercy of airport security when contacting your company—you want each of them to expect and to receive a positive experience each and every time. To do this, it is important that all customers have equal access to all information—particularly when they are looking for answers to their questions. Classes of customers only work when the customer considers themselves part of the class. In other words, unintentionally, sub-segmenting peer groups with common purchase patterns can be disastrous.

    For example, pre-sales information is readily available from a friendly face or voice and that information is typically translated into several languages to help the company expand into multiple regions of the world.

    Unfortunately, this multilingual information usually stops when it comes to support information and other post-sale communication. Fortune 500 companies routinely tell us that they deliver product information in up to 35 languages, but only provide support in 1 or 2 languages. Time and time again, those customers that had a great buying experience in their native language are in for quite a surprise when they contact the company for support and are forced to use English, whether they like it or not.

    In order to treat customers equally well, information should be provided in multiple channels and in all the languages a product is delivered in. Of course, this is easier said than done. Companies often don’t translate support information because it is time consuming and expensive. The average price for human translation is 21 cents per word and since most human translators can only translate 1500-2000 words per day, it isn’t long before a company has a huge translation bill and human translators have a huge backlog of documents to translate. That being said, the translation landscape is changing and many companies are successfully deploying automated translation solutions to deliver timely information in a customer’s preferred language.

    Since automated translation can be delivered at trusted levels of quality, many more communication channels can be enabled without requiring unmanageable translation budgets to help global customers have a great customer experience post-sale.

  3. Think globally from the beginning

    And finally, if your company is currently doing or planning to do business globally or with diverse groups in your region, work multilingual communication into your plan as early as possible.

    There are several options for delivering information across languages, and the best solution for some content is not the best for other types of content. For example, that pre-sales information that most companies focus on, such as product documentation, marketing material, advertising campaigns, and sales oriented web content should go to human translators for translation. This is because the content is usually highly influential and needs to capture the nuance and intent required for marketing and sales information.

    For support information like knowledgebase content, FAQs, chat and email, human translation is far too expensive and slow to provide timely information to global customers. As previously mentioned, an average human translator can translate 1,500 to 2,000 words per day. Automated translation solutions translate thousands of words per minute and if deployed for commercial uses, have been proven to deliver actionable information quickly. When this support content is available via self service across many languages, it helps companies deflect global support calls and improve customer experience and satisfaction.

Bringing these Recommendations Together in a Use Case

One of the many automated translation success stories is a large, US-based semi conductor manufacturer. This company had seen great success with their English knowledgebase, but that success quickly pointed out that they were getting a large number of support calls in foreign languages.

Because translating everything with human translators was not feasible, the company decided to deploy automated translation software to deliver all of the support information into Spanish. In the first month, the Web traffic to the Spanish translated support site increased by 70,000 visits in a single month and customer satisfaction on the automated translation content was equal to satisfaction of the human translated content. The savings on translation and deflected support calls allowed the company to expand their global efforts and focus on delivering a better customer experience.

This company is a great example of one that doesn’t underestimate the power of customer support, treats customers equally well and thinks globally early in the process. As a result, they are influencing what people say about their company and brand when they are not around.

Concluding Thoughts

Companies don’t want to drop the ball on customers after they purchase a product. They paid a lot to win customers; it pays to hang on to them. Companies want customers to continue to say great things about the company and its products or services.

To make sure this happens, don’t underestimate the power of support, treat all of your customers equally well and think globally from the beginning.

Mark Tapling
Mark Tapling is the President and CEO of Language Weaver. His background includes over 2 years of progressive experience in strategy, growth and financial and operational management of technology companies. Mark has served as the CEO and director of both public and private firms, has led companies to their Initial Public Offering and has raised several rounds of investment from both venture and private equity investors. Mark received his BS in Economics and Management from Michigan State and has participated in several executive management programs.


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