The Impact of Language Operations on Improving CSAT Scores and Other Customer Support KPIs

November 29, 2022

SMART goals, key performance indicators (KPIs), or key figures — whatever you may call them, they’re crucial. But these metrics are meaningless unless they’re tied back to an overall goal. It’s not about improving customer satisfaction by half a star; that half-star improvement is about improving brand image and, ultimately, boosting ROI.

Traditionally, there are some fields for which it’s easier to assign metrics to a goal — think sales figures, recruitment targets, or social media engagement. Many of these metrics are simple to measure across one market but become challenging when businesses expand across new languages or locales.

When setting and monitoring KPIs in global customer support, your team needs to consider the impact of language operations on metrics like CSATs, NPS, TAT, and AHT. How do you build language and language tools into your KPIs?

The impact of language on KPIs

Language has a huge impact on customer experiences and, as such, an effect on KPIs. In fact, 57% of global consumers say it’s a bias when brands don’t offer end-to-end multilingual experiences to their customers. And 2 in 3 global consumers would switch to a different brand that offers support in their native language.

After all, when your business offers multilingual customer support, it’s adding another expectation to the customer relationship, and those expectations placed on customer-facing teams differ across cultures.

According to Unbabel’s Global Multilingual CX report, 89% of Brazilian consumers say that it’s extremely or very important that brands offer end-to-end customer experience in their native language, while only 55% of Japanese customers feel as strongly about multilingual CX. As you add more languages, you’re likely to be interacting with more cultures and growing customer expectations.

Furthermore, culture affects how individuals use language. For example, an English-speaking customer support agent in Nigeria may use more exclamation marks in their reply compared to an English-speaking agent in Germany. Being unaware of this difference could result in a bad experience for customers and negatively impact CS KPIs.

Imagine a company with fluctuating seasonal demand notices that customers in Mexico are satisfied with their Spanish language support, yet customers in Spain are not. Their LangOps team could examine the metrics to determine the location of the issue — a specific agent, a support channel — and then the team can dive into the root cause. Perhaps it’s the tone of voice: A more casual tone may resonate with their Latino consumers, but Spanish citizens, however, may think it is rude. From there, the customer service team can make the necessary adjustments.

When these KPIs are measured in the context of language, CS leaders can see a clearer picture of how native-language translations can make the difference between a happy customer and a disgruntled one, improve omnichannel customer interactions, boost customer loyalty, or even cause customer churn.

Building language into your KPIs

Yet it’s not just a case of using your KPIs to hunt out issues with languages, you need to also build language, and language tools, into your KPIs, as they can have an effect on your metrics.

Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSATs)

Customers prefer businesses that address them in their native language, according to the Global CX Report, 29% of respondents feel it shows brand empathy. In fact, 45% of respondents would switch and buy a product from a different brand that offers customer support in their native language.

So, language matters in customer satisfaction. Using a language solutions platform allows businesses to offer multilingual customer support, regardless of their agents’ spoken languages. Not only this, but by freeing companies from the requirement to hire customer support agents for language, they can focus instead on hiring the right staff for their customer skills, relationship building, and subject matter expertise. Equally, removing language barriers allows tricky situations to be escalated, in real-time, to the most qualified agent, improving the customer’s experience.

Leading game developer and publisher Wargaming’s global CSAT survey showed that by eliminating the language barrier for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, its CSAT scores jumped 82%. Rather than hiring for language, Wargaming could staff a support team of actual gamers who had an intimate knowledge of the game which greatly satisfied customers.

First-touch resolution

From the first encounter to the last, companies want their customers to be satisfied. Often, businesses set a first-touch resolution metric, with the aim of solving a customer query within one email or chat message. But, when you add in a language translation tool, this impacts first touch resolution rates: there are two touch points with translation.

If the customer speaks Spanish and the support agent speaks German, the customer’s email will need to be initially translated so the agent can understand, and then the agent’s reply will need to be translated from German into Spanish. Often this clocks as two touch points, even though the inquiry was handled in one. Knowing this from the start can help businesses scaling into new markets set realistic metrics for each language.

Turnaround Time (TAT)

Ultimately, installing a language solutions platform into your customer support tools will reduce turnaround time. Customers will not have to wait for the next available agent in their native language or for the email to be translated by a human translator. Instead, the translation will be a seamless part of the interaction. TomTom enjoyed a 42% reduction in turnaround time for email support after installing a language solutions platform.

However, you can’t compare like for like: If you compare your TAT across two languages with the TAT in one language you’ll likely be disappointed. An English-speaking agent assisting an English-speaking customer will take less time than the same problem being solved by a Spanish-speaking agent because they need to cross the language barrier, which does require a little bit more time — even if just minutes.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

It makes sense that if customers have a good experience dealing with customer support, it will boost customer satisfaction, and then they’re more likely to recommend the service or product to friends and family. When you have an issue, being able to solve it in your native language makes the process much easier. Logitech discovered this boost to its metrics when it adopted a language translation hub: Its NPS for translated conversations rose 58 points.

Average Handling Time (AHT)

Stepping back and seeing the big picture, integrating a language solutions platform in your customer support workflow helps CS agents reduce average handling time across all their tickets. It fits within the workflow, so agents don’t have to switch to another platform to translate content, and with automated processes upstream companies can quickly reduce handling time, allowing for more tickets and customer needs to be solved by the same number of staff.

Hopper’s CS team adopted a language solution platform to help them serve millions of travelers across the globe who use the Hopper travel app to book flights, hotels, and cars. Now, Hopper has improved its CSAT scores, AHTs, and translation quality.

“Unbabel has been an invaluable resource in allowing us to unlock lightning-fast response times for ad-hoc multilingual support, without exponentially increasing our language-fluent workforce.”
– Alvarez-Hiscox, Director of CS Product Operations at Hopper

Customer Effort Score (CES)

 According to Gartner, customer effort is the strongest driver of customer loyalty. It measures how easy or difficult it is for customers to complete a certain action. While this expands beyond pure customer support, the premise is the same: If your product or service is properly localized and available in the customer’s preferred language the ease of use will improve. Equally, if there is an issue with the product or service, and the customer can liaise with a CS agent in their preferred language, the process will be smoother.’s global platform allows users to start, sign, and support petitions to create social change. It needs to have a good user experience so campaigners feel supported in their effort on the platform. After the User Success and Support team started using a language solution platform, they discovered that their Customer Effort Score (CES) was higher or on par with its benchmark of native speakers.

Measure metrics by language and location

Once businesses see how language — and language tools — affect key customer support metrics, they’re in a better position to set and measure these KPIs as their business expands internationally. But, it’s often not enough to look at these metrics across the board, to truly understand how customer support is performing across markets, businesses need to dig deep into how metrics are affected across different languages and markets.

How does Unbabel make integrating language in your CS easier?

Any business that wants to expand internationally needs to deliver a consistent, good customer experience, to build brand loyalty and repeat purchases. Ultimately, that’s what KPIs are measuring. Taking the time to follow up with customers, through customer surveys to discover their pain points, explore what entices new customers, and retains existing customers is useful, but it’s not always possible.

With a dashboard such as the Unbabel Portal, organizations can monitor their KPIs in one place, without having to switch back and forth between different analytics and reports. Through this, teams to make better decisions about how to increase customer service agent productivity, minimize agent turnover and reduce wait times, while also working to boost support experience, customer retention, and satisfaction levels by filtering data by audience, geography, language, service line, and channel to find areas of improvement across the customer journey.

Unbabel can seamlessly integrate into existing CRMs, meaning businesses can implement this one-stop solution for language operation and KPI monitoring without additional agent training. The result is a reduction in time-to-market, helping them achieve a competitive advantage. See how Unbabel can help your business today.

About the Author

Profile Photo of Imogen Mccaw
Imogen Mccaw

Imogen McCaw is the Content Strategist at Unbabel, where she facilitates the ideation, development, and distribution of high-impact content deliverables. She has 5 years of experience in developing media and editorial initiatives, as well as overseeing project management for international brands. She earned her MA from the University of Edinburgh in Philosophy and Psychology.