Multilingual Customer Support: An Essential Guide

Learn why multilingual customer support is an essential part of great customer experiences across all cultures and languages

Customer support lies as one of the pillars of a successful business strategy. Knowing that a vast majority of consumers browse only in their native language, offering multilingual customer support is essential. In this article, we write about the importance of multilingual customer support and its best practices.

What is multilingual customer support?

Multilingual customer support means supporting all your international customers in their local language. It is a part of the customer experience and a localization strategy when entering new markets. It allows customers to get the most out of your products and services regardless of their native language. By breaking down language barriers, customers are encouraged to reach out and communicate with support about all of their inquiries. 

Businesses around the world tackle multilingual customer support with:

  • Hiring local agents in markets they operate.
  • Hiring employees who are fluent in multiple languages.
  • Using translation software like machine translation.
  • Partnering with Language service providers that can assist with customer support.

Assisting your global customers before, mid, and after conversion is a key step in building a loyal customer base. Multilingual customer support helps every customer get the same experience, no matter the language they speak.

Why multilingual customer support is important

The days when you were competing only with local brands are far gone. Competition is fierce and only one click away. When you don't provide multilingual support, potential leads will look for an alternative product or service. At least if you operate on a global scale. According to the HBR report

  • Nine out of 10 Internet users prefer a website in their native language.
  • Nearly one in five Europeans never browse in a language other than their own.
  • 42% of European consumers never purchase anything in other languages.
  • 72.4% of consumers said to be more likely to buy a product with information in their language.
  • 56.2% of consumers see information in the local language as more important than price.

Benefits of multilingual customer support

Did you know that poor customer support is one of the main reasons customers stop buying from the company even when they like the offerings? According to a Salesforce report, 47% of customers stop buying from a company with subpar customer service. It takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience (“Understanding Customers”).

When done right, multilingual customer support provides several benefits for businesses, such as:

  • Build trust and loyalty - communication in the local language leads to increased brand loyalty.
  • Retain more customers - according to Huffpost it costs 6-7 times more to attract new customers than to retain an existing one.
  • Expand to new markets more successfully - communication is key in establishing yourself in a new market. Breaking down language barriers helps connect with the local audience.
  • Land new customers - Increase your audience by reaching the audience that does not speak a foreign language. 
  • Build brand awareness - if customers feel they are understood, your brand awareness will share through word of mouth. They will also discuss their experience on social media and likely become loyal customers.
Customers reviewing a company

Providing multilingual customer support 

There are many ways a company can go about providing multilingual customer support. Some of the most widely adopted strategies are:

  • Outsourcing language experts.
  • Adjusting operating hours across different time zones.
  • Providing a multilingual chat box.
  • Offering support over the phone.
  • Creating a multilingual knowledge base.
  • Supporting multilingual voice search.

Outsource language experts

Working with a team of language specialists is the most traditional way of extending your business operations in different languages. An effective way to provide multilingual customer support is to hire local-language customer support agents

Working with language specialists across borders provides more benefits than just understanding and speaking the foreign language. Being physically present in the market, they also share insights and learnings about the culture. Fully understanding your customers will allow you to provide a more tailored service for their needs. 

Another way of outsourcing language experts is to work with a traditional language service provider. Some LSPs specialize in language support and will be strong support in the markets you want to enter.

Adjust operating hours across different time zones

A good practice to improve customer support is to adjust operating hours to different time zones. For example, if you are a business in Europe, there will be an 8 hours time difference with the east coast of the USA. The US customers will be able to reach you only in the early morning and not during the day since you will be closed already. The same goes for US businesses, but the other way around. European customers will be able to reach out only in the evening.

This can leads to a lot of frustration, especially if your customer support is busy issuing a lot of tickets. By adjusting your operating hours, the customers can reach out during the full work day. 8 hours time window will allow them to better organize their time and not go out of their way to talk with customer support.

Provide a multilingual chat box

The chat box allows customers to access the support team without leaving your website. A chat box is a widget located in the bottom website corner. Adding a chat widget to your site improves user engagement, makes your site more lively and helps you grow a community. A chat box is a great tool for improving customer experience allowing you to communicate with customers in real time.

Many companies take things one step further and create a chatbot. Chatbot + real-time translation enables users to get instant answers in their language. Modern machine translation uses neural networks to provide more accurate translations, and it’s constantly improving. You can create a chatbot by integrating your website with an MT API or using a platform that offers built-in translation features.

A chatbot is a convenient assistant that helps reduce stress on your team. By translating your chatbot scripts into different languages, you can assist more customers while determining their potential need for live support.

Customer talking with chatbot

Offer support over the phone 

When your customers need something fixed fast nothing beats the old classic support over the phone. Findings show that customers value companies that respect their time and can resolve their issues efficiently. The main benefit of multilingual customer support over the phone is accessibility and efficiency. Customers can directly reach out to the agent speaking the same language as them.

The internal language center is quite resourceful, especially if you want to offer support 24/7. Companies thus outsource their over-the-phone support team by working with contact centers.

Create a multilingual knowledge base

A report from Aspect Software found that 73% of all customers want the ability to solve product/service issues on their own before contacting customer support. 91% of customers say that they would use a knowledge base to tackle issues if it would meet their needs. 

As you see, creating a multilingual knowledge base is valuable no matter what other customer services you already provide. A comprehensive knowledge base includes:

  • How-to guides
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Help documentation
  • Community forum
Website resource center

Creating a comprehensive resource center is a time investment but gives you dividends in the long run. Customers can solve their problems and free up a lot of time for your support team. The support team can thus dedicate more time to solving complex problems.

When you create a multilingual knowledge base, high-quality translations are crucial. Only accurate and easy-to-understand resources will allow users to solve problems by themselves.

Support multilingual voice search

According to Search Engine Watch, more than 23% of American households use digital assistants, and almost 27% of people conduct voice searches. As more and more people use voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, you should optimize your customer support for multilingual voice searches. To set up your voice search, you'll need to ensure that your content is properly tagged and formatted for voice search in all the languages you support. 

How machine translation can boost your multilingual customer support

Multilingual customer support is a proven strategy to improve customer experience. But offering 24/7 live customer support in more than one language is not a viable solution. If you are not a high-traffic business operating on a global scale, costs are just too high to be sustainable.

A great alternative is to use machine translation (MT). MT helps you boost your customer support by reducing translation costs and time. Albeit not using human translation, advancements in neural machine translation result in highly accurate translation output. It allows you to translate all your customer support content, chatbot script, marketing material, and other assets instantly. 

To expand on how MT can help you improve your customer support, here is a breakdown describing all its benefits:

  • Machine translation increases speed and productivity without any human interference needed.
  • The use of MT results in significant cost savings even when your business scale. Additional translation requests do not require a real human translator since everything relies on technology.
  • Customers can resolve simple issues by using a chatbot or localized knowledge base on your website. Your customer support can thus focus on resolving complex issues.
  • As your customers use MT, the data feed the technology and grow the language database. This results in improved translation output over time. 


As you have learned in this article customer support plays a vital role in creating a top-notch customer experience. No matter the type of industry you are in, if you want to reach beyond the border you will have to offer multi-language customer support to your target demographic.

Let's recall the importance of multilingual customer support with some above-mentioned facts again:

  • Nine out of 10 Internet users prefer a website in their native language.
  • Nearly one in five Europeans never browse in a language other than their own.
  • 42% of European consumers never purchase anything in other languages.
  • 72.4% of consumers said to be more likely to buy a product with information in their language.
  • 56.2% of consumers see information in the local language as more important than price.

Adding multilingual customer support to your business strategy will help you get ahead of the competition and become a dominant global player. Implementing translation best practices, market research, and understanding your customers will allow you to create custom solutions tailored to your customers' needs. This will ensure a good customer experience across cultures and languages.

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