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3 Tips for Providing Multilingual Customer Support for Your App

February 4, 2019

by Alpi Mantry

VP of Growth and Relationships, Translate by Human

Translation services can be an enormous help in curating a loyal customer base and expanding your app's audience. Using translation and localization techniques, your business can create a stronger relationship with consumers who live in different countries and experience different cultures. 

When you offer customers support in their native language, your customers are more likely to return.

 A report from the Common Sense Advisory found that 74% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that offers post-sales support in their own language. 

The Internal Customer Management Institute, a customer call center, reports the following insights:

  • 71.5% of customer support leaders interviewed in the survey said customer service offered in one’s native language increased their satisfaction with the company. 
  • 58.4% of participants said it increased their brand loyalty. 

Localized customer support is an integral part of your business when you sell your product or service in the international market. This improved service includes understanding the local culture, selecting the optimal customer support channel, and deciding whether to opt for localization or machine translation.

Why Is Multilingual Customer Service Important for Building Brand Loyalty? 

Customers trust the people they do business with. Language builds this trust and makes the customer relationship stronger. 

Business Perspectives conducted a survey that reported multi-language customer service is a useful tool 75% of the time. 

Companies that learn the language of the countries they do business with thrive because they know how the locals think. This connection leads to trust, which builds long-term relationships. 

Does Your App Need Multilingual Customer Support? 

Speaking your customer’s native language encourages customers to reach out and engage with a company. According to the icon below, 72% of app users are not native English speakers:

Translating Your Content Statistics


After an app switches to include a country’s native language in its settings, the number of downloads increases by 120%. People find it much easier to communicate using their native tongue, which means interacting with a multilingual app is a lot simpler. 

What Languages Do App Users Speak? 

Although English continues to represent the most common language on the Internet, almost 75% of app users do not speak English. This vast majority leaves a large market available for multilingual apps. According to Statista, the most common languages spoken by internet users in 2017 can be seen below:

Percentage of Internet Users vs. Language Spoken Graph

If your app targets only English-speaking users, you are missing out on three-quarters of global internet users who speak the other top languages. 

App Store Revenues and Downloads 

Asian dominance over app stores continues to grow. Asian mobile users spend 40% more per month than anywhere in the world. Japan, specifically, has the heaviest Google Play spenders, followed by the U.S., South Korea, Germany, and the U.K. 

App Store vs Google Play Language Statistics

Brands must incorporate multilingual customer support into their app development and marketing strategies or risk losing valuable international customers. As a global brand, sending out a consistent message across multiple languages increases conversion and customer satisfaction. 

This article will help you understand the cultural nuances, the right channel for each country, and whether to opt for translation or localization for your international app launch. 

1. Understanding Cultural Nuances 

Languages, slangs, symbols and even colors have different meanings in every culture. Some phrases in one language may be offensive in another language or dialect. If your company is not aware of cultural nuances, your company’s brand may come off as being ignorant and could end up offending potential customers. 

For instance, if your company is targeting the North American audience, it should consider different localization strategies for Canada and the U.S. Although English is the primary language for these two neighboring countries, the cultural differences influence how people use certain words and phrases. 

The same implies for color. The meanings attributed to colors vary based on countries and cultures. A single color has different and often contrasting meanings across the globe. The graphic below explains what various colors mean in different regions:

Colors Different Meanings Across Globe
An example of a brand effectively utilizing color diversity around the world is McDonald’s. Every country’s local McDonald’s website is customized according to the color preference of that country. Below are the McDonald’s sites in South Korea, India, and Japan respectively: 

McDonald's South Korea

McDonald’s South Korea 

McDonald's India

McDonald’s India  

McDonald's Japan

McDonald’s Japan 
A business’ global marketing campaign will have a more effective impact if an app is adapted for each country it targets. Before selling to businesses or consumers in a country, research and optimize the cultural implications of color, layout, dialect, and imagery. 
The local history, attitudes, and beliefs will shape the way people respond to your brand. Work with local customers to provide customer support that makes every interaction with your brand relevant, unique, and targeted. 

2. Choosing the Right Customer Support Channel 

Customers expect their problems to be solved quickly and easily. In fact, 7 out of every 10 customers prefer doing business with brands that deliver great service, states an American Express Study

For example, the average company that generates $1 billion in annual revenue, can increase their revenue by $823 million over three years with moderate customer support. 

The most commonly used customer support channels are: 


Most businesses provide self-service guides to customers. These self-service programs benefit businesses who do not want to be overwhelmed with simple questions that take time to answer. 

A staggering 81% of consumers handle simple issues themselves before reaching out to a customer care representative, reports Harvard Business Review. 

Many companies would find it difficult to survive online if their business did not have a knowledge center. Using FAQs and brand content, businesses can answer questions easily. 

Including a localized version of this guide would assist more people and ease the strain on customer service agents. Target languages facilitate self-service as people can read complex instructions in their own language. This localization, in turn, reduces the number of support cases and increases customer satisfaction. 

Give customers a way to help themselves before reaching out to your company for support. Ideally, any content (customer support pages, guides, and blog content) that is available in the primary language should be localized into the target language.  

Live Chat 

The live chat box sits in the corner of an app or a website and pops up when the customer wants to know more about a product or service. With 79% of people using live chat, this channel offers the highest level of customer satisfaction.  

Why is Live Chat Preferred?


The way people communicate with each other and with brands varies in every country. Consider hiring a local translator who understands the communication nuances of that country to handle the live chat. 

Social Media 

Social media has become an integral part of the customer service process.

Over 30% of customers who do not receive a reply to their complaints on social media will go to a competitor. 

Meanwhile, 71% of consumers who have had a positive customer care experience on social media are likely to recommend the brand, says Cooler Insights

Choosing the Right Social Media Platform for Your Business
Social media habits vary by country when your company expands, internationally. To offer local social media customer support, analyze the popular social media networks in that country. 

Adapt your company’s content to the type of content that people normally consume on those networks. For example, do these users watch more videos? Does this country have a lower number of mobile phones? Do users read more content? Offer localized customer support based on prevalent behaviors. 

China, for example, prohibits access to YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, which are otherwise popular globally. In such cases, a business would have to adapt its social media campaigns to the substitute platforms, such as WeChat and Sina Weibo. 

3. Choosing Between Machine Translation and Human Translators   

Many businesses struggle to understand the difference between translation and localization and how to effectively implement both. The difference between translation and localization being:

  1. Translation means to change the language of the original text (app, website, ebook or multimedia) into a different language by substituting the words from one language to another. 
  2. Localization is the process of adopting your content for consumption by the local users. App localization means to adopt the elements of your app such as app name, keywords, description, currency, symbols, icons, time and date, and measurement units according to the local needs and behavior of the target users. 

Many businesses question whether to merely bridge the language gap (translate) or refine and attune the messaging (localize). The below chart explains the differences in translation, localization and copywriting. The chart outlines how each type of language has different characteristics and styles. 

Pros and Cons of Translation and Localization


Further, the chart explains how translation is simply dictated by the original language while localization tailors content to the audience's culture. Copywriting is written to execute business goals. 

While machine translation has evolved by leaps and bounds over the last few years, it is far from replacing human translators

Localization and human translators always beat machine translators as customer support agents because they can:

Relate Words to Context

In different languages, the same words have multiple meanings. Machine translators are unable to translate based on context. For example, “bear” in English could either refer to the animal or tolerance. For the machine, it becomes tricky to relate the word to the context simultaneously. This confusion could lead to inaccurate translation, and the sentences may end up not making sense. On the other hand, the human translator can localize and give correct meaning to the text. 

Account for Evolving Dialect

Machine translators cannot pick up evolving dialects as fast as human translators. Complex algorithms would be needed to constantly learn new phrases, words, and their context. On the other hand, human translators can pick up dialects and localize them according to conversation quicker than machines. If your customer feeds new words to the machine, it may either result in no response or a strange combination of words. 

Replicate the Style and Tone

Many brands have a distinct tone of conversation. If yours is funny or persuasive, machine translation misses that tone. Human translators are best suited when the content has a specific style and can incorporate the nuances of the original text. 

Zendesk, a company that offers localized customer support, introduced a live chat application. Whenever a user receives a support message in a foreign language, the message gets machine translated into the native language. 

As a customer support team answers the message in the native language, a human translator also personally translates the text. This answer is then sent back to the customer. This process allows companies to provide streamlined and frictionless support to foreign customers. 

Do You Really Need Multilingual Customer Support? 

Offering customer support in the local language makes a business more familiar and relatable to users. Adding a human aspect to customer support allows users to see that your company values their presence. If you are interested in creating a stronger bond with consumers, hire a top translation services company to help make your app multilingual. 

Based on location, every customer experiences language in a different way. Anticipate their needs and offer a localized language option for customer support. 

About the Author

Alpi Mantry's HeadshotAlpi Mantry is the VP of growth and relationships at Translate By Humans. With 10 years of experience at Oracle, Deloitte, and Infosys, she now helps Translate By Humans cater to global brands such as Vogue, Nike, HSBC Europe, Amazon and many more. Translate by Humans offers human translation services for documents, apps, software, website and games across 75 languages and 50 countries.


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