The Multilingual Opportunity: Why Brands Must Offer Native-Language Communication

November 3, 2021

The results of our most recent Global Multilingual CX Report are in. This year, we unearthed some interesting facts about the adoption of multilingual support services and how customers feel toward brands that do or do not offer marketing materials and customer support in their native language.

One of our biggest takeaways was that more than two-thirds (69%) of global consumers believe it’s extremely or very important that brands offer an end-to-end customer experience in their native language. While it’s not surprising to us — we’ve always known how important multilingual experiences are — the survey really quantified how a lack of native-language services will cost an organization.  

From reputation issues to waning loyalty and profit losses, we’re digging into what’s at stake for brands and why they need to offer multilingual experiences. 

Brand reputation

Customers expect brands to communicate with them in their native language. And when they don’t, it’s not just an inconvenience. Customers feel that a lack of multilingual experiences says a lot about a brand’s priorities and could indicate potential prejudice toward some countries and cultures. 

In fact, our survey found that 57% of consumers consider it a bias when brands don’t offer end-to-end multilingual experiences to their customers. That number is even higher in the US, where nearly two-thirds (63%) of consumers consider it a bias when brands don’t offer customer experiences in multiple languages.

Investing in multilingual experiences is well worth the time so you don’t open your organization up to accusations of bias. Plus, an emphasis on multilingual experiences could have the opposite impact. We found that 45% of consumers in Brazil and 32% of consumers in Japan actually think that native language communication from brands demonstrates empathy. Bottom line: The way you communicate, communicates more than you think. 

Customers’ ability to purchase your products

In addition to harming a brand’s reputation, a lack of native language experiences also impacts brand loyalty. Our survey found that an astounding 74% of global consumers would switch to a new brand that markets products or services in their native language. Alternatively, 73% of our respondents would be somewhat or very loyal to a brand that offers support in their native language. Can you afford to play fast and loose with customer loyalty? Probably not. 

And you may need to think twice before you check “native-language support” off your organization’s to do list. Even if you offer native-language support, there’s still very little tolerance across the world for bad customer service. An overwhelming 92% of global consumers believe that poor customer service, even if it is in their native language, will impact their trust and loyalty toward a brand. It’s not enough to only translate. You need to make sure your customers are having positive experiences with your customer support infrastructure. 

Potential profits

Perhaps the most alarming information to come from our Global State of Multilingual Customer Experience survey was just how much impact multilingual services and support have on profits. 

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the global consumers we surveyed would pay a higher price for a product or service if a brand offers a customer experience in their native language. This number jumps significantly in certain markets. In Brazil, for example, 84% of consumers say they would pay more for a product or service if a brand offers a customer experience in their native language. That’s a huge opportunity for brands to tap into. If you offer native language support and your competitors don’t, you’ll win big in this market. 

Millennial customers are also heavily persuaded by native language communications — 74% of millennials say they would pay more for a product or service if a brand offers a customer experience in their native language.

Alarmingly, brands might also lose a large chunk of change if they fail to offer native language customer support. According to 75% of US consumers, brands could lose up to $500 per customer for lack of native language customer support.

De-prioritizing multilingual experiences is a price you cannot pay

The proof is in the pudding — er, survey. Your brand simply cannot afford to skimp on multilingual experiences and customer support services. In order to successfully cultivate a global customer base, you need to prioritize native language experiences. If that sounds intimidating, don’t fret. AI-powered solutions can turn any customer support agent into a multilingual resource. It’s now possible to harness the power of a great customer service agent, and amplify that impact immediately across countries and cultures. 

More and more companies are using the power of AI to build and manage a Language Operations (LangOps) function and change what it means to be a truly global organization.

Interested in hearing more insights from our Global State of Multilingual CX Report? Download the full report.

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Content Team

Unbabel’s Content Team is responsible for showcasing Unbabel’s continuous growth and incredible pool of in-house experts. It delivers Unbabel’s unique brand across channels and produces accessible, compelling content on translation, localization, language, tech, CS, marketing, and more.