Great customer experience (CX) comes from delivering seamless, consistent interactions at every step. It’s how businesses can stand out from the competition to build brand loyalty and win new customers. In fact, two thirds of companies compete mostly on the basis of CX.
This is equally important at the support stage, which involves numerous touchpoints across multiple platforms and channels. Your customers expect—and may have paid for—immediate access to information to help them solve problems with your product or service.
When this assistance is unavailable, customer satisfaction quickly deteriorates, potentially having a big impact on your business. Research shows that one in three customers would leave a brand after a single bad experience, and 92% would do so after two or more instances.
So when you also add multiple markets into the mix, things can get complicated. That’s why an effective global support strategy is crucial for meeting customers’ needs, wherever they are in the world, whenever they need support, and whatever language they need it in.
A solid plan will help your business grow by giving it access to more markets, improving customer retention, boosting revenue, and ensuring a cohesive, consistent CX. To get you started, we’ve pulled together eight ideas for effectively scaling customer support across different countries and regions.
1. Localise and adapt support content
Use their native language to improve satisfaction and build loyalty
Surveys show that 76% of consumers prefer buying products with information in their first language, and 40% would never purchase via a website that does not cater for this. Likewise, 75% are more likely to buy again from the same brand if support is offered in their preferred language.
What’s clear is that however information is provided—whether via an online knowledge centre, a help section on the corporate website, or an automated tool like a chatbot—your support content must be localised or adapted to a high standard for your various global markets.
It’s important to understand the specific cultural and linguistic differences between the regions in which your business operates, as well as each target audience’s needs and expectations. Content that reflects this understanding has the best chance of building brand loyalty and engaging new customers.
Prioritise languages and content types
While an obvious need is to localise help documents from one language into another, there may also be a requirement to carry out intralingual localisation within a single language. For example, English content written for US customers might need adapting for the UK, or Spanish content for Spain could be localised for Mexico.
If you can’t translate everything at the start, simply decide which languages you need to support most. For example, those for markets with the greatest potential return on investment (ROI). Likewise, consider localising high-priority content initially and address low-priority information at the next stage.
Leverage translation tools for on-the-spot interaction
Localisation is worth the investment, but it takes time to do it well. When this is in short supply and you need the content immediately, another option is to use machine translation for communicating urgent information. Agents should be shown how to get the most out of these tools to reduce the risk of inaccurate translations.
Real-time translation tools are handy when team members need to interact with customers in a language that isn’t currently supported, or when an agent who speaks that language isn’t available. These tools are a great solution for quickly translating messages written in almost any language, and then for replying in the same language.
2. Offer omnichannel customer support
Many businesses offer a multichannel experience by making support available across various online and offline channels so that customers can use their preferred method of communication. In fact, the number of companies investing in the multichannel approach has grown from 20% to a whopping 80%.
It’s important to provide a range of options, including taking advantage of automated and self-service tools that sync with various content sources and which are cost-efficient. This is because customers in different regions have different preferences for contacting companies when they need help.
For example, research shows that end-users in Germany overwhelmingly prefer to call (the top choice in most regions), whereas UK customers also highly rate email and live chat. Brazilians value social media and people in Japan often use online self-service channels as their first choice.
Some firms are now taking this a step further with omnichannel support to provide a seamless experience. This is when all channels are fully integrated within a unified system to give customers consistent support, even when they switch between channels.
3. Harness online self-service tools
Customers want to help themselves
In most cases, customers are willing to try to find the answers they’re looking for themselves.
A knowledge centre is an ideal self-service tool for offering scalable global support in multiple languages. Customers can easily find and immediately access information, such as frequently asked questions, product details, and troubleshooting options.
This kind of online tool is also available 24 hours a day, any day of the week, wherever your customers are in the world. Even better, all of this content can be indexed by search engines, which is the starting point for many customers when they try to solve a problem themselves.
Unlock support agents’ potential
By centralising and organising all of your business’s content and expertise in a single, accessible knowledge management system, your agents across the world benefit, too. They can provide better support because they can quickly and easily find up-to-date, accurate information.
The tool also gathers data on what customers are searching for to help businesses get to know them better and improve the content available. And with customers getting instant, relevant answers to their questions, this drastically reduces the number of incoming support queries.
4. Implement multilingual automation
Instant global support at any time
Another way to reach a wider audience, boost self-service (but without end-users necessarily being aware of this), and significantly reduce support enquiries is to add an automated online tool that can interact convincingly with customers in their chosen language.
Multilingual chatbots provide effective support when agents are unavailable, such as during off-hours and weekends. They make sure customers can still reach your business when they need to, taking care of simple queries, reducing support tickets, and escalating complex issues (along with background details) to the most appropriate agent.
What’s more, chatbots can connect to a wide range of content sources, such as:
- Knowledge centres
- Community forums
- Support sites
- Content management systems
- Third-party support applications.
By being able to pull information from different places, these automated tools always have a helpful answer for customers.
Keep ahead of the competition with an AI chatbot
Not all chatbots are created equal, however. Artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots talk “human”. And at a time when 74% of consumers want more interaction with people, it’s important that technology is unobtrusive and as much like dealing with a real person as possible.
The best AI chatbots harness natural language processing (NLP) technology to understand languages in all their variations, including the nuances that give away what a person really means. They also keep on learning from every interaction, to respond and resolve issues faster each time.
In other words, AI chatbots understand what customers are trying to say (unlike keyword-based chatbots that only look at what’s typed), and quickly provide the right information. This can transform a frustrated customer into a loyal one who’ll help to spread the word.
5. Hire local experts in target regions
Remote teams for round-the-clock support
Are you ready to move beyond a centralised team that has to work odd hours to provide support across time zones? The next stage is to hire regional workers or set up remote contact centres. It’s a cost-effective option that avoids having to open new offices or relocate current employees.
This also means you can hire team members in the same time zones as your customers, so that support is available whenever they need it. With this “follow the sun” approach, you can provide support 24 hours a day without expecting staff to work unreasonable hours.
Whenever you have a regional team reporting to different managers based on time zone, make sure you have a team lead to provide support to agents and present a collective voice for reporting issues to business leaders.
Local support agents who know the market
By working with agents located in the target region, you also benefit from their knowledge of local cultures, expectations, and languages. This reduces the risk of any embarrassing and potentially pricey gaffes resulting in offended customers, lost business, and damage to your brand’s reputation.
What’s more, the promise of local, accessible support agents who speak their language will appeal to new customers. Team members could also review and provide feedback on localised content, but it’s always best to use a professional translator to carry out the actual localisation.
Localised recruitment for efficient hiring
So, what’s the best way to find these remote-support superstars? Local recruitment experts will know how and where to find the best candidates, as well as arrange and carry out interviews without getting bogged down in language problems and timing issues.
Local recruiters will also present a professional face to lend credibility to your brand (especially in new markets), as well as being your business’s person on the ground for networking locally, going to careers fairs, visiting universities, and so on.
6. Invest in comprehensive training
A cohesive, consistent support experience
Once you’ve hired remote agents and developed regional teams, they need training in your company’s values and mission. They should also receive the same training and information, and a centralised knowledge base is a great way to make internal processes readily available.
In-depth training ensures a cohesive and consistent support experience for your customers, wherever they are in the world, and whoever they interact with. As well as effective information sharing between teams. It also makes good business sense: 88% of high-performing service decision-makers invest significantly in agent training compared to only 57% of underperformers.
Respectful and considered customer support
Training is also essential to make sure team members are aware of how different cultures communicate, think, and interact. They can then apply this knowledge to provide appropriate support to customers, so that they feel understood and respected.
For example, a more informal conversational tone might be suitable for one region, while this should be adapted to be more professional and respectful for customers in another part of the world.
7. Use centralised communications tools
Greater efficiency and better teamwork
Workforce management software helps remote workers and teams, wherever they are in the world, to manage schedules and make sure there’s always customer support available. Scheduling tools are crucial for maintaining minimum staffing levels and keeping costs more manageable.
A centralised and real-time business communication tool, like RingCentral’s unified cloud communications platform, means that teams can make changes and see those updates instantly. Schedules should also include time, such as shift overlaps, for coordinating with other teams.
Seamless handovers mean happy customers
Knowledge sharing is important to avoid siloing between teams and regions, and for building a cohesive global support service. It also makes for smooth handovers between agents, which is essential for resolving support issues and ensuring a good CX.
Whether a problem is being handed over to another support agent due to a shift change or because it’s a complex issue that requires a specialist, sharing all the background details in an efficient way means that the frustrated customer won’t have to explain their problem all over again.
8. Measure results and gather feedback
Monitor impact to inform decision making
Implementing a global support strategy is costly in terms of both time and money. Whatever tools or tactics you employ, tracking and measuring results using internal data is crucial for:
- Understanding what is (or isn’t) working
- Ensuring customers worldwide are receiving a consistent experience
- Demonstrating and calculating ROI
- Making the case for investing further.
In order to monitor productivity and impact, you need to use similar key performance indicators (KPIs) across all regions. These may change over time as you evaluate which metrics are best for measuring effectiveness and informing decision-making.
Seek out customer feedback for ways to improve
It’s also important to gather customer feedback on their support experience to find out what they need and expect from their interactions with your support service. Only then can you find opportunities for improving CX in different markets, increasing revenue, and cutting costs.
Once you’ve identified where there are barriers to a great experience, you can remove them and meet customers’ expectations. This knowledge can then be applied when rolling out your global support strategy to cover other regions, by learning from earlier mistakes and avoiding repeats.
Explore different channels to request opinions
One way to uncover this valuable information is by talking to team members who deal with customers every day. They have first-hand experience of the challenges, as well as the processes and tools that they find most helpful.
Another option is to send follow-up surveys to customers after they have been in touch with a regional support team. Find out what they thought of the service and what could be done to improve their experience.
The key to a successful global support strategy is offering human-centric customer support with knowledgeable people and smart technology. What’s more, you need to be able to reach and interact with customers in their preferred language and in terms they appreciate, wherever they are in the world.
In a perfect world, you would have multilingual regional support teams in all time zones and implement every technology possible. Instead, focus on providing speed, convenience, informed help, and friendly service, which nearly 80% of consumers say are the most important elements.
That’s because developing and investing in a solid global support strategy now—for delivering a consistent support experience to your customers, wherever they are in the world—will help your business grow and thrive in the long term.