The US does not have an official language. The country’s 332 million people speak over 350 different languages. If you zoom out across the world, over 8 billion people speak more than 7,100 languages. Organizations operating strictly in English miss out on countless potential customers, especially if you’re looking to secure a global customer base. And since 76% of people prefer to purchase products with information in their native language, monolingual customer communications just won’t cut it anymore.
Having an accurate, reliable way to perform real-time translations is critical to global business operations, but some organizational leaders remain reluctant to implement this technology for their business. But why the reticence? From ROI concerns to legacy thought processes (we’ve always done it this way, so why change now?), to simply not seeing the value of translation services, there are many reasons leaders may not be eager to invest in translation technology.
However, armed with the right insights and information, you can communicate the necessity of developing and executing a translation strategy to bolster business by providing the best customer service in any language while opening budget for other critical business activities.
Identifying translation needs
The first step to meeting your translation needs is identifying the gaps within your organization. Is your one Spanish-speaking customer service representative constantly inundated with calls? Have your English-speaking representatives been forced to abort a conversation because they can’t understand or communicate with a non-English speaker? What are the most common languages besides English spoken by your customer base? All of this information will be crucial when presenting your case to the leadership team.
Making the business case
After you’ve determined the biggest gaps in your communication abilities, then link translation services to business objectives. If your organization is trying to branch out into the global market, effective communication and top-tier service are both imperative for success and expected by customers. Real-time translation software gives teams the ability to communicate live in any language.
Clear, effective communication in the customer’s native language can help prove the ROI of translation services by improving customer satisfaction scores. Retention increases among satisfied customers — a critical metric because it costs 5 to 10 times more to acquire a new customer than to sell to a current one. Furthermore, current customers, on average, spend 67% more than new customers.
Ultimately, multilingual communication abilities bring more business. Leaders may hesitate to approve translation budgets because they see them as expenses that don’t directly generate revenue. However, if you can clearly tie the potential investment to revenue-generating operations, it could change reluctant leaders’ minds.
Beyond budget worries, some leaders may doubt the reliability and accuracy of translation technology based on older translation technologies’ abilities. Machine translation (MT) output may contain errors and mistranslations, especially when handling slang, words with multiple meanings, hyper-specific language, or misspellings.
However, newer, more sophisticated translation software, such as LLMs trained on massive datasets, can bypass the majority of these issues. Some advanced software even has the ability to pull from an industry-specific glossary of terms to prevent mistranslation while preserving the brand voice and tone. Cutting-edge translation software has the potential to transform the best customer service agents into polyglots capable of handling customer questions and concerns regardless of language.
Securing leadership support
To thoughtfully gain buy-in from leadership for a translation budget, I’ve outlined some strategies for effectively communicating the need and its value.
- Lead with the revenue opportunity. Emphasize how translation will expand the business into valuable new markets and customer demographics. Provide concrete forecasts for increased sales based on accessing non-English-speaking customers. Highlight the growth potential.
- Emphasize the risk of lagging behind competitors who are already translating and finding success abroad. Portray translation services as the new cost of entry into a market.
- Detail positive business impact. Explain how culturally specific content improves brand perception and loyalty worldwide. Prioritizing translation shows customers you respect and value connecting with them in their native language and improves overall customer satisfaction.
- Use benchmark data. Provide statistics of average translation budgets at peer companies to demonstrate the investment’s value. Adjust your figures relative to your size and global footprint.
- Stress the losses without translation. Calculate current losses in business aspects like international website visitors, social media reach, and inquiry turnaround times slowed by language barriers. Show how proper translation resources could reclaim lost revenue.
Translation goals generally align with organizational priorities such as improving customer retention and satisfaction, decreasing the average time to resolve an issue, and driving customer acquisition. If you can demonstrate this link to leaders, they’re more likely to give their blessing to a translation budget.
Choosing a translation service provider
Once you’ve gotten buy-in from leadership, the real fun begins — choosing the right translation service provider. When choosing a provider, the areas to focus on include its translation quality, reliability, cultural accuracy, and cost.
Customer support teams should be able to easily incorporate translation tools without disrupting workflows. Look for solutions that effortlessly incorporate into your existing tech stack, whether that’s the customer service CRM, contact center software, help desk system, or knowledge base. Prioritize intuitive technologies agents can use on demand without switching between platforms or requiring complex setups. The right service will feel familiar and won’t need major process changes.
Before making a decision, ensure the platform’s customization abilities will allow your team to maintain brand integrity and specialized terminology through features like a company-specific glossary that can help maintain a consistent brand voice. Another perk of many translation technologies is their ability to continuously improve as usage increases. The more the tech is used, the more data it has to pull from, and the better the translations will be.
With the proper translation partner, your staff will gain scalable multilingual abilities to better serve global customers while utilizing existing systems they know and use daily. The process of communicating with non-English-speaking customers should feel just as streamlined as assisting English-only contacts. The technology shoulders the translation effort behind the scenes so agents can focus on providing exceptional support.
When it comes to cost, it is clear that investing in translation service software is much more cost-effective than hiring and training multiple polyglots for the customer service team. Rather than a new bilingual agent fielding a complicated customer issue just because they can speak the language, your best, most experienced agents will be able to handle high-level customer interactions no matter the language.
Investing in real-time translation software comes with costs, but they pale in comparison to the revenue lost if your team lacks multilingual capabilities — remember how 76% of customers want to buy products with info in their native tongue? Outlining the myriad long-term benefits of translation software can help secure buy-in from leadership, and once leadership buys in, you can begin harnessing the power of translation technology. For organizations aiming for global growth, high-quality translations are integral to driving success. Those failing to invest in translation technology will be left behind.