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GUEST COMMENT How to localise your customer service approach to better serve your European customers

Navigating a way to recovery relies on digital

Customers need to be reassured that help will be on hand once they make a purchase. In fact, in a survey of customers in France, Germany, Italy, the US, the UK and Australia, 40% said they expect to access help online within five minutes, while 31% expect it immediately.

Providing customer support through multilingual telephone, email and live chat facilities will help you nurture international customers pre and post-purchase and improve the lifetime value of your international customers.

Online fashion retailer ASOS, provide a holistic customer support service via phone (with dedicated local telephone numbers), email and live chat in Spanish, German, Italian and French. As one of Internet Retailer’s top 50 UK multichannel and eCommerce retailing leaders, its European customers are made to feel at ease knowing that they’re able to reach a representative through multiple channels in their own language.

Retailers should bear in mind that customer service teams need to be able to meet the unique expectations of consumers in local markets. Customers require the same real-time responses to their queries as you would provide your UK customers.

This means having dedicated native speakers within the team ready to respond to your customer queries, in their own language, with the ability to recognise the cultural nuances of your customers in each market and deliver relevant advice which caters to local tastes and preferences.

Returns and refunds

Returns and refunds are an unfortunate but unavoidable process of any online retailer. Whether its a customer who has changed their mind about a purchase or an order that’s arrived damaged in transit, customers expect the return and refund process to be just as straightforward as when they purchased the product.

Retailers including H&M and Zara have made the returns process easier by giving customers the option to return their order to their local store. For brands that don’t have a physical presence within a local market, paying close attention to delivery, returns and refund processes of local online competitors will enable you to remain competitive and avoid tarnishing your reputation as a new player in the market.

Email notifications

If you really want to make an impact with your offsite comms then your email notifications need the same treatment as your multilingual websites. Localising your welcome emails and order notifications not only sets the bar for your communications in the future but also reassures your customers that they are purchasing products from a reputable site.

Understanding the cultural nuances of a target market and adapting messaging to your target audience is vital when taking your brand overseas. Using transcreation when localising email notifications presents a great opportunity to convey your brand’s unique tone of voice when communicating with new customers.

Newsletters and promotional campaigns are much likely to garner higher open and click-through rates by customers in international markets if the content they’re viewing is culturally relevant as well as in their native language.

Brands including Cartier and Burberry engage with their Spanish and French customers with localised welcome emails, order confirmations and regular newsletters in order to engage with their customers, boost confidence in their brand and redirect traffic to their localised websites.

In fact, a study conducted by ContactLab, in collaboration with Exane BNP Paribas, analysed areas of email marketing where luxury brands perform well. Both Cartier and Burberry scored the highest, while overall there was “good performance in email localisation (key languages) and structure (composition, visualisation)”.

Social media

Social media is probably one of the most common channels a brand can use to engage with customers. In the UK alone, marketers will spend £3.3 billion on social media advertising by the end of 2018 – a 24% increase over 2017. But these efforts don’t have to fall short when engaging with international customers.

Social media localisation should be a vital prong in your ongoing localisation strategy if you want to re-engage customers and direct traffic to your multilingual websites.

As consumers become more confident in communicating with brands online, it’s important that retailers remember that consumers in some European markets are just as likely to head to a brand’s social media platform to raise a query about an order or even air their grievances about a particular experience as they are to use the website’s customer service or live chat facilities.

It’s essential that native speaking moderators are employed to manage your international social media channels and responding to queries as soon as possible.

Engaging with a native representative not only humanises your brand but will reassure customers that they’re dealing with a real person who’s able to respond to their queries and resolve their issues.

ASOS is a great example of a brand that’s well on its way to expanding its social media presence outside the borders of the UK. Its Italian Facebook and Twitter pages are used not only to promote the brand and generate conversations but act as an additional line of communication between the brand and its customers to manage a high level of customer service queries.

As a pure-play retailer, It’s a great opportunity for ASOS to continue to develop its online community, increase customer retention rates in the market, achieve a strong local presence and understand the unique expectations of its Italian customers.

Ultimately, developing a great customer service experience is comparable to being a great host.
Through localisation, you’ll be sufficiently equipped to better understand your customer’s expectations, decipher any cultural nuances and improve the lifetime value of your customers. The onus on you to provide international customers with an accessible, responsive and effective service in order to foster long-term relationships.

Author: Demetrius Williams digital marketing specialist TranslateMedia

Image credit: Fotolia

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