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?
Two ways to solve it, live voice/chat or written Q%A:
A) First, translate your website for each of the important languages (you can't cover them all but at least the 6 - 8 languages) There should be a list of flags of theose chosen on your landing page.
Have all the possible questions translated in a standard Q&A style so they can click on the right flag and get self-acquainted and onto the cashier.
B) In almost every country in the world there are English/Local translation services that can chat or type answers and you pay by the minute for them. You would have to locate and contract them. Of course they would need manuals and Q&As to converse with.
One idea is to create an FAQ document that you continually add. You can also include tutorials, videos and other informational/educational documents. Have these specific customer service type materials translated (or closed caption/annotated) in the various languages.
This method allows you to provide various customer solutions in multiple languages with limited resources.
Every time an issue pops-up, make sure to document it appropriate, translate and then distribute as appropriate.
Your CRM should also include your client's language preference. This way, you know which languages you need to have translated documents.
If you distribute newsletters - consider multiple versions in the different languages. Create mailing lists that also include your customer's preferred language - and distribute the information accordingly.
You have not explained what your portal does but I was rather amazed at reading your comment of
“The problem with most of the countries is that they prefer to speak a language other than English “
Well I am sorry, but that cannot be a revelation to most people in International business! Of course people expect an organisation offering services to them to speak their local language. This is the nature of International business and the 1st point that you need to consider when you start to offer your services to other countries.
Your target market defines your product, and in any service industry “the product” includes language. If you target a market, you better step up to the idea that these “awkward customers” want to speak their own language.
The most common languages spoken as mother tongue are (in order below):
If you include “Second” language the list looks like this:
The next question is whether your portal is available in these countries. For example you can have your portal with dotCom which is World Wide audience but then create country specific or language specific such as dotES (Spanish), dotFR (French), etc.
However, beware that languages can be divisive too. American English and GB English have some fundamental differences, specially when you get down to legal and nitty-gritty stuff. This goes beyond mere spelling differences but also usage of words. In the UK an Attorney is called a Solicitor, which has a completely different meaning in American English. Within the legal system, in the UK you have Barristers and QC (Queen's Council), which are meaningless in the US. Things get even worst when you get to everyday words. In the UK we use a rubber to wipe out writing in pencil whilst the Americans use it for something completely different!
The same applies to Spanish where the usage of words has diverged and there are vast differences between words used in Spain vs Columbia vs Chile vs Argentina, but they all claim to speak Spanish!
You also have to consider the legal framework. Depending on what services you offer, you may be in breach of the local laws if you are not providing your information in the local language. For example financial services, loans, currency exchange, any kind of banking, etc. fall within these restrictions in some countries.
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