To localize a product or service is to adapt it for a new market or location. For example, if you are an American company looking to sell your products in a large Japanese city, you would need to localize your brand so it appealed to people living in the region. Localization is often multifaceted. For instance, you may need to change a product’s name, slogan, and packaging to fit with local customs and regulations.
The role of localization in customer service
However, localization doesn’t just entail adapting a product to suit a new market. It is also a fundamental pillar of customer service. Businesses need to consider how they can support customers with questions or problems relating to their services.
Customers like to do business in their own language
Although English is widely spoken throughout the world, most people prefer to make online purchases from websites written in their local language. This extends to customer support. In general, consumers like to speak to company representatives who are fluent in their native tongue.
You also need to localize the help content and user manuals on your website. This not only leads to an improved customer experience, but will also reduce the amount of time sales support staff need to spend helping customers resolve common problems.
Preferred methods of payment vary across the world
To give your customers the best possible experience, you need to cater to their preferences at every step in their journey. This includes payment methods and checkout pages. Not all customers will be accustomed to using VISA or MasterCard. Some countries have their own local credit card brands.
You should also list prices in the local currency and be transparent about shipping costs; never force your customers to convert prices. If you sell subscription-based services or products, you need to make sure that payment methods support your business model.
Check that your FAQ and “About” pages fit with your offering in a specific region
If you have made even minor changes to a product or service during the localization process, this needs to be reflected in the content of your FAQ and “About” pages. Do not simply send your content off for translation; make sure the product specifications and descriptions are in line with what you are offering to the local market.
Don’t assume that customers in each region interact with your site in the same way
Analyze how your visitors move around your site, where they click, and the terms they enter into your site’s search bar. This information gives you vital clues that will help you make your site more accessible. Tailoring your site’s structure and layout to your target audience’s preferences increases the likelihood that they will commit to making a purchase.
If your budget permits it, you could carry out focus groups and individual user testing with people from your target region. A few quick interviews can highlight areas for improvement, and provide an insider’s perspective.
Why you need to localize notification emails
Customers like to be kept informed about their orders. They should receive the following whenever they make a purchase:
1) A confirmation email: This should be a perfectly translated, well-formatted summary of their purchase, price paid, and payment method. You should also take the opportunity to highlight other products in your range that may be of interest to the customer, and to signpost them towards your help pages or customer support services.
2) A welcome email: Sending a welcoming email that congratulates your customer on joining your list of satisfied clients will promote feelings of goodwill and loyalty. If your customer has problems with the product later on, they will be more forgiving and patient if you have already cultivated a positive relationship with them.
Localize your social media
Depending on the country and region, your target market may want to interact with your brand on social media. As a rule, engaging with customers and potential customers online builds brand recognizability, improves customer loyalty, and encourages repeat purchases.
You need to devise content that fits with cultural sensibilities, is easy to share, and tells your brand’s story. The bulk of your content should appeal to customers on an emotional level; bombarding your targets with promotional material will not impress them.
Customers may also expect that your company will be willing and eager to answer their questions publicly. Therefore, a strong localized social media presence can form an important part of your customer service strategy. Ideally, your accounts should be monitored by someone who speaks the local language. Most people now expect that a company will respond to their comments within a few hours.
The importance of localizing refunds and returns
No matter how good your products, a minority of customers will always want a refund or return. You must make it as easy as possible for a customer to get their money back. Provide in-depth details of your refunds and returns policies on your website, and place links to these pages in all your emails.
Using specialist localization services
Localizing can be a lengthy, expensive process, especially if something goes wrong. For example, if your user manuals or website FAQs are not properly translated, your customers may be left feeling confused or angry. This will damage your company’s reputation, which in turn will hurt your sales figures. Use a reliable service, such as The Word Point, to ensure accurate translation.
You can also hire customer support agents on a remote or freelance basis. Depending on your needs and budget, you could either use a professional service based in your target region, or a few freelance agents with a background in your target language. You can offer support via telephone, email, or live chat.
Finally, remember that you can learn a lot from watching your competitors. Research a company that has succeeded in entering your target market, and examine their approach to customer service and technical support. You could save yourself a considerable amount of time and money by emulating a business with a track record of successful localization.
About the Author
Pauline speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian. She travelled the world to immerse herself in the new cultures and learn languages. Today she is proud to be a voting member of the American Translators Association and an active participant of the Leadership Council of its Portuguese Language Division.