Multilingual customer support: How to support online shoppers in every language

Guest Post
Guest Post
November 1, 2017

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Lyndsay McGregor, content specialist, xSellco.


Cross-border eCommerce is a trillion-dollar opportunity, according to research by BI Intelligence—and it’s high time online sellers sought to extend their reach beyond home ground.

But with great opportunity comes great challenge: The more markets you sell in, the more difficult it can be to offer the same level of support to all your customers, especially when you’re selling to people in other countries and time zones, whose cultural norms might be different to yours. Let me show you how to simplify your strategy and provide multilingual customer support.

1. Listen to your customers

First things first: listen. It sounds obvious, but the ability to listen is the most important skill a customer support agent can possess, especially when dealing with people whose native language is different to yours.

Read your customer’s message thoroughly to understand what they are trying to say. Notice how they address you, how detailed or direct the message is and whether they’re expressing a particular emotion. Take note of their tone of voice: is it casual or formal?

Research has shown that most customers prefer personalized interactions. To that end, you should listen to what your customers say and how they say it, and respond in the same manner. Not sure what they’re getting at? Ask questions. Not only will that help you understand the issue that’s presented to you, but you’ll also be showing an interest in your customer’s needs, which conveys respect.

2. Be clear and concise

Forget “flowery” language or filler words: Keep your response as simple as possible to avoid misunderstandings.

Although English is widely spoken worldwide and one of the most dominant languages used online, regional colloquialisms don’t always translate. The same goes for words with two meanings (eg. left, right, type, point, quarter), which are often language barriers in written communication.

Thus, you should write clearly and concisely in sentences that are to the point and easy to understand. Avoid using technical jargon and slang phrases that could confuse or frustrate your customer and aggravate the problem.

3. Show empathy

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

Familiarize yourself with any interactions they may have had with you in the past and have that information at the ready to show you recognize their needs and know where they’re coming from.

It’s also important to recognize and manage how you react in certain situations. By figuring out your own emotional triggers and how you might need to adapt your communication style, you can learn to understand the emotions of others and empathize—key to providing great multilingual customer support.

Customers trust sellers that they feel understand and value them. And when customers feel understood and valued, they are much more likely to remain loyal.

4. Think about your customers as individuals

Respecting social etiquette for a diverse range of customers may seem like a daunting challenge, but a little common sense goes a long way.

Firstly, spend time getting to know your customer base and the various cultures you serve. For instance, a US customer might prefer a casual, conversational interaction with your support team, while someone in Germany could find that approach disrespectful.

That being said, stereotyping your customer must be avoided at all costs. So while it’s important to understand how behaviors and attitudes differ from place to place, it’s essential to treat each customer as an individual. Take note of how they’re communicating their concerns and respond accordingly.

5. Tackle the language barrier with an auto-translator

No matter how great your support team is, your customers may not be getting the help they need if your agents don’t speak their language.

xSellco’s help desk software has a built-in feature that auto-translates incoming messages from a language you don’t speak into your native one so you can understand your customer’s query. Your response will then be translated back into the customer’s language.

This helps you scale your eCommerce business and sell to a wider audience without the need for multilingual customer support agents by giving your team the ability to communicate in every language.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re exploring international expansion for the first time or entering another market, recent studies have pegged cross-border eCommerce as one of the fastest growth opportunities in retail. Follow the five steps outlined above when developing your international support strategy and you’ll reap the rewards.


xSellco’s connected e-commerce platform helps online sellers of all sizes manage support, feedback and pricing in one place. Whether you sell on your own website or on multiple marketplaces around the world, our products centralize your customer queries, increase your reviews and help you sell more at higher prices.
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xSellco free for 14 days and see how easy it is to provide stellar support, everywhere you sell.

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