Real-time translation services and customer service


Translation services have been around for thousands of years in one form or another. The modern incarnation is moving to ever more technological solutions, with real-time translation services now a realistic option in some situations. What does this mean for the future of customer support, though?

There’s no getting away from the importance of customer service to any company out there. It’s the face of your company when there are queries or something isn’t working quite as expected and often the stick against which customers will measure the quality of your product. In fact, according to a report from Microsoft, 96% of respondents said customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand. That’s a huge number that should underline even more why delivering superior customer support is essential for the future health of your company.

Where those two points come together, the importance of customer service and real-time translations is currently the sweet spot to develop your customer experience for the better in 2022.

Multilingual Customer Support

Customer support isn’t simple. Customers can be complicated in all kinds of ways, and delivering an efficient service that satisfies them is a challenge. One of the most glaring issues in our ever-more globalised world is language. The optimal solution would be to have an agent deal with every customer in their language of choice, but this is unlikely to be practical in almost all circumstances.

The fallback solution is often to use English. While many worldwide speak English to a certain level, it isn’t necessarily comfortable for a customer or their preferred option. Then there are those who never learned it and are shut out from products and services.

This is where the customer service opportunity lies for companies with vision. Finding a way to offer multilingual customer support that helps customers in their language without hiring hundreds of customer support agents. It opens up potential opportunities that would otherwise be missed.

The challenge lies in ensuring any solution delivers reliable translations at a speed that appears seamless to the customer.

The trend in customer service is for the expectation from customers to be ever-rising in the demanded level of service. What once may have seemed exceptional is, at times, merely mundane as technology continues to develop. Take delivery of an online order as an example. Whereas knowing it was on the way and the approximate day it was expected to come was enough, now customers can expect that they can track exactly when it will arrive.

The same applies to multilingual customer service teams. It wasn’t so far back that you could get by serving your customers in a primary language and English but that no longer cuts it for many. For your customer experience to excel, there is now an expectation that you can somehow serve a customer in their own language.

Real-time translation services

Difference solutions to this customer service dilemma have been tried in recent years, using technology to harness the power of human translations for example. There’s no doubt that is a useful way to approach certain situations but the understandable time delay involved makes it impracticable for a fast-moving customer support department.

This means there is a need for real-time translation solutions that take humans out of the loop. However, any implementation would have certain demands it must meet before it can be considered good enough:

It has to be fast.
That’s where the real-time comes in. From the point of view of the customer, they shouldn’t even notice it’s being used when it comes to the speed of the translation.

Ease of use
Customer support teams have a lot to manage and giving them a fiddly solution that makes their life more difficult could end up being counterproductive if it reduces the amount of interactions with which they can deal.

If you’re giving a customer information in a language you don’t actually speak, you must be completely confident that the translations its providing are representing what you want it to say and your brand correctly.

Customer support is a vital part of your business but isn’t a bottomless pit of money. If a solution costs more than expanding your team with new language speakers, then it’s missing the mark.

A solution that could deliver on all these fronts would have another huge advantage. Your current customer support team. Their experience and knowledge in resolving situations are invaluable. By empowering them with a high-quality real-time translation solution, you’re bringing all that skill and expertise to customers across the world and not only restricted to the market of their language.

Customer service translation solutions

There are different places and ways in which you can use technology to help with customer support translations in or close to real-time. One of the first options many consider is Google Translate since the barrier to entry on using it is almost non-existent. You can copy and paste a customer's email and your response back and forth and get immediate results.

It seems simple but, as it is a general purpose translation tool, it does sometimes fall down in the specific needs of a customer service department. Is there an option that’s better than Google Translation for customer support? We think there is in this instance but let’s examine the different use cases to understand what is realistic now and what may be still in development.

Customer service tickets and emails
For many support teams, this is the bulk of their work and this is somewhere that opportunity already lies. Machine translation tools have been in development for decades but the improvements since AI technology started to contribute have been startling.

It’s possible to get a full picture of how AI helps customer service translations but main point is this is now a mature technology ready to integrate into your customer service team. Tickets or emails come in, are instantly translated in a near to human level of quality with the reverse happening with your agents reply. As far as your customer is concerned, it’s real time.

Support teams with a multilingual outlook should be looking to implement a translation solution like this now.

Chat bots
These have seen a huge rise in usage in recent years to try and help customers around the clock with some of the most common enquiries. In the same way answers are pre-programmed, it should also be possible to pre-program replies in other languages. Time and resources are the only challenge here!

Live chat
A step on from email, the instant response mechanism of this is an ideal place for real-time language translations given the instant interaction. A translation solution may be possible, but it would need a lot of careful testing and training to ensure that it delivers the correct translations for your company.

This is the ultimate aim of many visionaries in translation technology. The ability to speak to anyone in the world and have them understand you instantly even when you don’t speak the same language! It would be a dream solution for customer support managers.

Whilst there have been some impressive technical displays, this is a technology still in development and so it’s one to track. There may be better places to implement translation technology first and, at the same time, keep the communication lines open with your translation partner. They may well have an exciting solution that finally cracks this problem in the pipeline.

Overall, it’s time to recognise that the customer experience is being changed by technology, as is their level of expectation. The need to break down the language barriers and deal with customers in their language is only set to grow. The only realistic way to do that is with a real-time translation solution.

If your customer service team is ready to take the next step in real-time translations that use AI to deliver reliable, high-quality instant translations, then book a demo with Transfluent to see it in action for yourself.

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Mikko Räty

Mikko Räty