How to Deliver A Great Localized Customer Experience
Customers are king and expect to be treated as such. When you wow a customer with a quality service or product and stellar customer support, you not only get repeat business from them, you also turn them into brand advocates who will sing your praises and give you referrals.
One of the best ways to increase customer loyalty is localization. Don't assume that localization doesn't matter simply because your target customers are able to speak your language. Even if that is the case, consider the way that consumers behave online and how they interact with brands and content.
First, 56.2% of people are willing to pay more money if they can get information in their native language. Another 72.1% spend the majority of their time reading and viewing content that has been written in their language. Finally, 72.4% of customers prefer purchasing products with product information that is written in their native tongue.
Localization is more than merely translating your content though. It is about relevance, relationship building, cultural respect, and ultimately better customer experience. Here are some key tips to deliver just that.
1. Identify where cultural references need to be altered
Blog posts, web content, manuals, in app content, and advertisements are just a few of the places where you may have content that contains cultural references. You may refer to sports that are popular with your current audience, movies or television shows, or simply feature values and lifestyles that are relatable to that audience.
The challenge is that these references may not be relevant to new audiences. They might even be confusing or offensive. For example, a company producing video games for 18 to 25 year olds in the West may use references to alcohol and characters in skimpy outfits to appeal to that target audience. If they want to gain an audience in the Middle East, those references must be scrubbed.
2. Remember that localization is design, not just content
Speaking of Middle Eastern audiences, customer experience isn't just about content. It is also about design. When you think about languages that are read from right to left (e.g. Arabic) or from top to bottom (e.g. Chinese), that is something that impacts the way customers interact with apps, web pages, and other content.
This can completely change where a user might expect to see navigation buttons, for example. It's important to consider how local customers will navigate your site when the first thing they focus on is the bottom or right side of the screen instead of the top left.
3. Localize trust
Trust badges and testimonials are great. You can use them to assure customers that you are a reliable company. However, these only work when they are believable and meaningful.
Let's start with testimonials. If all of your testimonials are from authority figures, who aren't familiar to the local consumers, they will not carry much weight. Take the time to read local media landscape and establish the key influencers in your niche.
The same concept goes with trust badges. A badge showing that you are licensed in your area may not be very impressive to people thousands of miles away. Double check your trust badges. Are they valid and meaningful to your new target audience? Does the issuing authority have an alternative badge for you? Take some time to learn what indicators of trust are the most meaningful to the people you're targeting.
4. Bring customer support close to home
When people are frustrated and confused they want things to be as easy as possible. You can help by ensuring that customer support is as accessible as possible. Customer support should be easy to reach by a local phone number. For instance, if you're a business in Dubai and are expanding into the Australian market, rather than provide support with your Dubai phone number, get a 1800 Number which is an Australian inbound phone number that presents your business as one which operates nationally. Also, make sure your representatives are available during normal business hours for the region.
In all, the overall experience should be free from unnecessary friction. It should also go without saying that all the customer support communication should happen in the target country's native language.
5. Get to know your competition
Don't be afraid to glance at the other person's paper. After all, assuming you have localization down is meaningless if you have missed the boat and undermined the customer experience. Take a look at local competitors, especially those that are either in your niche or in related ones.
What kind of stories are they sharing? How are they interacting with customers and potential customers? How are they creating bonds with local audiences? What is different in their branding in one location when compared to others?
Find companies that are successfully building relationships and making inroads into the local community. Then, don't copy them. Instead, let their methods influence you, then reach out to your audience in a way that is genuine to them.
6. Start with great micro copy
You may not get everything exactly right at first try. Don't rush to translate and localize every customer-facing aspect of your business.
Start small, and work on the micro-copy first - slogans, key messages and CTAs. These should be clear and well-written to avoid any ambiguities. You have probably heard about KFC's faux pas in China, where the company's iconic slogan "Finger-lickin' good" turned into "Eat your fingers off". So be vigilant about sloppy word choice.
Ultimately, localization allows customers to begin interacting with your brand and exploring your website without a lot of extra thought and effort. This combined with cultural sensitivity and an overall focus on content quality will lead to great customer experience. This in turn will result in more engagement and increased conversions.