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6 Localization Tips for Multilingual Customer Support

May 23, '19 by Aaron Schliem

Follow these tips to effectively localize your multilingual customer support content.Support content tends to be fairly disaster-prone. Companies can usually manage to get a product fully localized into a target language, but then they forget about translating the online support pages to go with it. Panic ensues when you finally localize all of your support content, but you don’t have your chatbot working in other languages. Or when you have only English speakers on the phone lines. Or when you’ve got multilingual emails flooding in that your team has no idea how to process.

These are all disasters you can avoid.

The following tips will help you to effectively localize your multilingual customer support content from start to finish and avoid the major pitfalls. But because support translation projects can be high-volume, complex, and costly, try to keep in mind the most important lesson of all: you don’t have to localize everything—not all at once anyway. And you certainly don’t have to do it all yourself.

 

6 Crucial Multilingual Customer Support Tips

1 – Plan ahead for volume and budget.

A lot of companies rush to start translating support content as soon as they finish the first major product build. What they don’t realize is that they may have half a million words in support content. Going in blindly, those per-word fees will add up fast.

Take time now to plan ahead and create a workable localization strategy for your support content. If you’re running a complex application or service with tons of existing support content, you’re better off starting with a limited scope of support that fits your budget. You can grow your efforts later once you have the bandwidth to expand into additional target languages. Set an appropriate budget for multilingual support localization, and then think about translating.

 

2 – Integrate your content systems.

Let’s say you already have localization technology in place for your main software, and you have a repository of support content located in Zendesk. Set up a pipeline between Zendesk and your localization platform so content can flow smoothly and automatically.

This architectural step will save you countless hours and dollars in the long run. 100% API integration is the way to localize efficiently, so if your localization platform can’t support Zendesk integration, it’s time to partner with one that can.

 

3 – Strategize to take advantage of automation tools.

Good news! Not all of your support content needs to go through a full localization engine. We advocate for localizing in the “sweet spots”—areas where you’ll get the highest ROI for your efforts.

For example, start by identifying which resources get the most clicks in English, and send those for full localization by human translators. Medium-priority content can be machine translated and then reviewed by editors on your team. Low-priority content can be machine translated with minimal oversight. This last option is so cheap and easy; it’s practically free. Be sure to take advantage of this and other ways to simplify your localization process so you can keep overall costs low and keep pace with your markets.

 

4 – Ensure tight terminology control.

When both your product and your helpdesk exist in a digital context, you must maintain tight terminology control over everything you translate. It seems like a no-brainer. Still, we’ve seen countless examples of support pages referring to different translated terms than the ones used in the product interface.

If your “SUBMIT” button reads as “ENVIAR” in the Spanish version of the interface, you’d better not be instructing users to “Click MANDAR” in your online forum.

Keep all of your key phrases locked in a term base or glossary to avoid future mishaps. This is one of the pivotal best practices of the localization industry, and it’s worth every hour you spend proactively creating and maintaining these comprehensive resources.

 

→ Pro Tip

Giving translators access to your app will help them to be even more mindful of these terms and the nuances in which they’re used. In fact, you might even appoint them to run some quality assurance tests by reviewing their translations in context. In this way, they can ensure that the right messages are coming across and that the adapted content preserves the product’s functionality.

 

5 – Prepare your chatbot.

If you have a chatbot in addition to an online support content repository, make sure you’re set up with technology that can recognize and respond to multilingual users. Any vendor should be able to quickly let you know if they can support natural language processing.

At that point, it’s up to you to run all of the automated chatbot responses through your content localization management system for each of your target languages. This is a relatively small localization project that often gets overlooked when companies go global, but it has an understandably huge impact on user experience.

 

6 – Consider how you’ll handle phone support.

Companies that provide a full help desk and a chatbot in another target language are also likely to consider offering multilingual phone support. If you have the funds and the infrastructure to handle phone support in each of your target languages, go for it.

If not, you need to be crystal clear in the localized version of your support site that there's no phone support available. You might have to make a few design changes to the original content so you’re not instructing visitors to “give us a call” in every target language.

 

→ Pro Tip

Adapt this strategy for phone support to decide how your company will handle international email traffic as well.

 

Bonus Tip → Manage your reputation abroad.

Our final tip doesn’t have as much to do with localization, but it’s crucial for your company’s international success. We always encourage our clients to spend a little bit of effort to measure how customers are talking about them around the world.

If you’re using sentiment analysis engines in English, do the same for your other target languages. Try to think about every aspect of your company’s customer support from a multilingual perspective. Your international users will thank you for paying attention.

 

Getting Support for Your Multilingual Content

From software to marketing collateral to multimedia assets, localization is an incredibly complex venture. Your internal team might not have the bandwidth to handle multilingual support content on top of everything else they’re already doing—especially since these localization projects tend to be really high volume. If you’re swamped with translation projects at this point in the game, you might want to consider outsourcing the localization work to a partner you can trust.

The best localization companies walk with you through the multilayered process of going global, offering valuable tips like these every step of the way. You’ll be able to scale up your localization process to cover all of your ongoing product development, marketing materials, support content, and beyond. Plus, you’ll have access to the most cutting-edge localization technology—tools which will make your life much easier today and in the future as your company expands into even more international markets.

Don’t stress about multilingual customer support. With a healthy strategy in hand and a capable localization partner at your back, you’ll be able to extend your reach and connect with users all over the world.

 

Bureau Works is a full-scale localization service offering consulting, technology, and back-end services for companies who are moving quickly into new markets. We localize multilingual customer support content for startups and global enterprises alike. Looking for an expert localization partner? Contact our team. We’re prepared to support you while you interact with millions of customers around the globe.

 

 

Aaron Schliem

Written by Aaron Schliem

Aaron is the chief marketing officer for Bureau Works. He also loves to tickle the ivories and is a wiz at designing cocktails.

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