The motto “the customer is always right” is a mainstay of mainstream business. This approach, first coined by turn-of-the-20th-century retailer Henry Selfridge, marked a dramatic shift from the less consumer-friendly caveat emptor – Latin for “let the buyer beware.”
Fast-forward 100+ years to the present for the next evolution in customer relations: multilingual services. In keeping with Selfridge’s slogan, putting the customer first means accommodating the language needs of your customers.
Small Business Tips for Multilingual Market
According to the Census Bureau, more than 350 languages are spoken in US homes, and one in five residents speaks a language other than English at home. After English, the top languages spoken across the US are Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, French, Vietnamese, German, Korean, Russian and Arabic. In order to turn these 60 million speakers into loyal customers, it behooves big and small businesses alike to offer multilingual services—especially if plans for expansion go beyond the States.
Savvy businesses and striving startups are wise to set up strategies to gain a piece of the multicultural pie (or sopapilla or mooncake).
Customized Products and Services
The best way to attract new multicultural customers is to understand who they are, where they are, and what they need. Do your homework—whether that means researching, spending time in the community yourself or working with a multicultural marketing consultant—and consider tweaking your products and services so they better resonate with your target markets. Or perhaps your products and services don’t need to change, but the way you market them does.
Multilingual Website Integration
The worldwide web has opened the virtual doors of global transactions. Almost anyone from any country can do business with another—provided they can connect, not solely through technological means, but through a common language. For both local and global audiences, make sure your company websites are translated into languages your customers speak—and read.
If you’re looking to build your multilingual website, see the best content management system tools.
Multilingual Customer Service
Lastly, the customer can’t always be right if they can’t ever be understood. That’s why it’s important to staff your customer service department with multilingual employees who can speak both your language and the ones your perspective customers prefer. This is of particular importance for your call center which may interact with clients from all across the country and abroad. As such, be sure to provide local and/or toll free numbers in every country you do business. Not only will it prove you’re running a professional organization, it adds a personal touch that says you care about your multicultural customers’ convenience.
If you want your message to resonate with your audiences around the world, contact us. We’d love to discuss your project goals!