How to Provide Better Customer Service Globally on a Limited Budget

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Superior customer service is a key driver of repeat sales, higher sales volume, and an excellent source of lead generation

Data from the 2012 American Express® Global Customer Service Barometer, conducted in the U.S. and 10 other nations, quantify the impact. Recipients of excellent global customer service spend 13% more and tell 15 people about your superior service. Those who receive poor service tell 24 people about their bad experience, and 55% of them abandon transactions because of terrible service.

Thus, any moves you make to improve the way you support customers enhances word-of-mouth marketing and builds the bottom line.

Service and support are most frequently provided by talking to a live representative on the phone and via company websites through live chats and forums. Social media is a growing channel, as well. That means lots of customers engaging with your company via the internet. Yet 72% of internet users are not native English speakers, and only 20% of them are comfortable with English-only support. To meet their needs, you need to offer global customer service. Learn from our tips on how to provide better customer service globally on a limited budget.

The value of global customer service

“Translation and globalization are crucial to your clientele so the service isn’t impersonal,” says Robert Spector, author of The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence. “You need to understand the nuances of particular phrases and concepts. It’s not enough to just use a bilingual translator. There are certain things we may say that don’t quite literally translate. That takes someone who’s a professional, who understands those things. It’s enlightened self-interest. You do a good job for your clients because if it benefits the client, it benefits you.”

Providing better global customer service multilingual support, then, creates a considerable competitive advantage that drives revenues, increases customers and buttresses formal marketing. And it doesn’t have to break the bank. The cost of providing support via chat is $39/interaction; forums are a scant $.06/interaction. Additionally:

  • Multilingual chats improve conversion rates. Customers using live chat while shopping online are 7.5 times more likely to complete a purchase. And better communication reduces overall time to resolution, making it possible for agents to work with more customers.

  • Multilingual forums and communities reduce administrative costs. By relying on “super-users” and other informed customers, online options increase engagement and equity among participants and have the added benefit of improving global SEO.

Speed, however, is of the essence, so automated translation and localization services may be preferable. Think about it, do you like waiting when you have a problem? The AmEx survey shows that customers in most markets will wait 10 minutes for support, but consumers in the Netherlands and Germany (7 minutes) and Japan (6 minutes) want more immediate gratification. Particularly in online settings, lag times can prompt customers to abandon sessions and sales. That’s a bottom line impact you want to avoid.

“You need to know who you’re dealing with if you want to make a connection–it’s not one-size fits all,” Spector notes. “Loyalty is what it comes down to. Customer service and support has less to with making a sale and more with helping a customer in a moment of need.”

Learn how Lionbridge uses Microsoft Translator to power its GeoFluent solution, which eliminates the language barrier by providing real-time translation results that produce significant cost reductions and improve the customer experience.


Download the free research report on customer engagement

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