Today’s question comes from a busy entrepreneur:

How can we tackle multiple language issues within our portal?

I am currently involved in the management of a B2B platform, eWorldTrade. The problem is that we cannot hire thousands of customer service representatives to deal with the huge number of clients registering everyday belonging to different countries.

The problem with most of the countries is that they prefer to speak a language other than English and we cannot hire that many people to tackle this issue. How do you handle such a problem?

Congratulations for fully embracing the global trade environment. As you know, the language and time zone obstacles are just a few of the challengers you are experiencing.  Staffing for every language is a daunting.

First – don’t assume that all customers need the same level of support.

Here are a few things to consider before hiring.

Know your customers

Find out exactly where your clients are, the language they speak, and their communication preference.  Even though you may have a large percentage of clients in a specific country – many of those clients may prefer to communicate via email or “not at all”.  They may prefer getting their information via whitepapers, videos, or other means.

You can log and track their preferences quickly through a registration form.  A simple questionnaire on their communication and language preference will manage this piece.  Also ask if they understand English (or whatever your primary language for your company will be).

Update your CRM (Customer Relationship Management system) with this information.

Update your List Management server to create groups or segment based on communication preferences.

Hire multilingual customer support staff

With the above information, determine which will be your top 3 primary languages and staff a few multilingual customer support staff members. These multilingual employees should be placed as 2nd-line help support staff.  The first-line help support staff will initially handle the customer calls, and will pass to the 2nd-line when they have hit an issue they cannot solve.

Placing the multilingual employees as the 2nd-line of help, allows you to handle many more language issues (versus placing the multilingual employee on the actual help line).  These 2nd-line support employees will also be responsible for translating alternative support documents (more about this in the next section).

Supplement with alternative support information

Create and translate a series of alternative customer support materials:

  • Create an FAQ document that you continually add
  • Include tutorials and other informational/educational documents
  • Add closed captions/annotation to videos in the various languages
  • Translate your regularly scheduled emails or newsletters

Tying it together

This method allows you to provide various customer solutions in multiple languages with limited resources.  Since you have already employed multilingual 2nd-line support staff, you already have in-house translators.

Because your CRM will include your client’s language preference, you can forward the appropriate documents in the appropriate language to your clients.  You will also understand which languages you need.

Because your List Management system is already segmented into client communication preferences, you can easily mail your newsletters/emails in different languages to the appropriate sub-lists, groups or segments.

Hope this helps a little.


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