With around 350 languages spoken in the US, organizations that only deal in English are seriously missing out.
The United States is home to 254 million native English speakers, but there are also 43.2 million native Spanish speakers living in the country, a statistic that has increased at a rate of 233% over 33 years, according to Pew Research Center.
When you throw the next four most popular languages—Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and French—into the mix, that’s at least 50 million non-English speaking residents who would benefit from communicating with organizations seamlessly in their native tongue.
For companies that want to improve their customer engagement outside of English, it’s essential to find ways to offer multilingual products, services, and support in as many languages as possible. Here’s our advice for kicking off a successful new multilingual approach in your organization.
Research Your Customer Base
First and foremost, start gathering information on your existing customer base, asking them which language they would prefer to communicate with. You could send out a short survey, start a new process within your customer service channels, or add a preferred language field to any user profiles you might have online.
You could also look into where most of your internet traffic or online sales are coming from, then track down the most recent language data for those locations to improve your top-down view of the market. In the same vein, perhaps your customer service team could shed some light on the language challenges they might have faced when dealing with customers in specific locations.
The aim is to gain a deep understanding of the volume of non-English speakers that engage with your company. By investigating as many avenues as possible, you’ll soon paint an accurate picture of the native languages that your customers speak, giving you the ability to form a powerful multilingual engagement strategy that will increase brand loyalty.
Establish Multilingual Support Channels
No matter where they come from, clients want to feel valued when they’re looking for support. When businesses offer personalized support in several languages, customers can air their grievances in their native tongue, which is incredibly valuable for customer retention. It even leads to organic brand awareness through word-of-mouth within different communities.
If your support channels only serve people in English, but your research shows that non-English speakers are engaging with your brand, then it’s time to add new language capabilities. Start with translations of website FAQs or self-service tools like appointment scheduling. Over time, you can then divert incoming voice, video, or chat tickets to specially trained multilingual support professionals, either in-house or external.
By facilitating customer communication in this way, you’ll boost the quality and efficiency of your service and support while gaining an edge over the competition.
Enlist a Team of Interpreters
One of the best ways to rapidly scale up your multilingual customer service is by leveraging the language talents of a global team of interpreters. These interpretation services can plug into virtually any existing process, in any industry, saving organizations time and money by eliminating the need for expensive and time-consuming recruitment and training.
At Zventus, the virtual interpreters in our global network speak 220 languages and are available 24/7/365 over several channels, including video, phone, and chat. We’re seeing some great results in the financial services and healthcare sectors, where language precision is incredibly important for customers, patients, businesses, and doctors.
For the millions of immigrants in the US who need financial services, it’s often a challenge when discussing complex financial arrangements. With a trained interpreter on the call, they can communicate more effectively and understand everything their advisor is saying, leading to an enhanced customer experience.
When it comes to healthcare, each of our interpreters has been vetted for their understanding of medical terminology and their ability to translate with total accuracy to avoid miscommunication or misdiagnosis. With access to this talent, we can provide medical practitioners with the ability to communicate with any patient that walks into their practice or contacts them externally. The service has been great for improving their booking process by implementing digital devices and end-to-end interpreter support for patients. Once a patient’s preferred language is recorded, any future communication with them can pass through an interpreter to enhance the patient experience and improve staff efficiency.
With the right level of research, customer-facing multilingualism, and access to interpretation talent, your organization can start to tap into the many opportunities that come with speaking a foreign language.
If you’d like to learn more or discuss ways to improve your multilingual business strategy, please get in touch with us. We’d be happy to talk it through.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR.
Carmen Reynoso is Client Delivery Manager at Zventus, she is a leader with 13 years of experience in strategic planning, operations, and leadership. Zventus provides management consulting, strategic staffing solutions, and managed services that give organizations the power to overcome any business challenges.