The Role of Machine Translation In Customer Service

Enter the term “machine translation” into a search engine and hundreds of articles will appear (including a few from us). Many of these articles cover the benefits of MT for marketers, web developers, technical writers and anyone else involved in global communication.

Another team that may benefit from machine translation is your customer service team.

The customer experience is defined by all stages of a transaction: before, during, and after the purchase. If you use translation and localization technology to optimize the first two stages, consider using it to optimize the third stage.

Why Use Machine Translation in Customer Service?

The move to digital solutions was already underway during the last decade. At the same time, the now-global consumer market started showing a preference for localized experiences, e.g. going through the buyer journey in the languages they speak.

Consider these statistics:

  • According to a survey from CSA Research, 75 percent of shoppers are more likely to make another purchase from a business if customer care is in their primary language
  • A survey by Replicant shows 44 percent of respondents reported being annoyed, irritated or angry if they’re on hold for 5-15 minutes. As the pandemic went on, hold times got longer, making these reactions more pervasive among consumers.
  • However, that same survey shows 80% of respondents are willing to talk to a machine to reduce their hold times.

Combine language preferences with intolerance for long hold times and a willingness to talk to machines, and you have a terrific opportunity to incorporate machine translation into your customer service operations.

How Can Machine Translation Improve Customer Service?

It can be challenging to translate customer service interactions because so many of them happen in real time. You can create materials that answer the most commonly asked questions. However, when a buyer calls or types a question in a chat, they expect an immediate response and resolution.

Luckily, machine translation operates in such a way that these real-time translations are now possible. As MT speeds up and optimizes these interactions, customer satisfaction goes up. So do customer retention, sales, and revenue.

Machine Translation in Chatbots

Businesses offer several ways to get in touch with customer service. The chatbot is one of them. It’s also a perfect channel to use with machine translation.

Many websites have a chatbot. It’s that little box, usually in the lower right corner of the web page, that asks if it can help. Sometimes it pops up on its own. At other times, you have to click on it to see the welcome message. Either way, it’s a quick and convenient way to reach out for support.

What happens, though, when the customer speaks one language but the customer service representative speaks another? A machine translation solution bridges the gap by providing multilingual support.

To give one example, the Acolad neural machine translation API can be connected to a chatbot tool using a few lines of code. Once connected, it enables multilingual communication within a chat, in which the customer service representative can communicate in one language and the customer can communicate in another.

Each party is interacting in their preferred language, even if the languages are different.

Machine Translation in Knowledge Bases

Many customer service requests revolve around recurring issues, such as technical glitches, product setup or billing questions. In most cases, the customer will reach out to a customer service rep. Asking your customer service team to answer these same questions over and over leads to time inefficiencies and higher costs.

Knowledge bases have picked up a huge amount of these queries. By creating a library of how-to guides, troubleshooting guides and tutorials, your customer service team spends less time on commonly asked questions and more time on more unusual or complicated issues.

This is a more traditional use of machine translation. Using a tool like U-Translate, a customer service team can upload knowledge base documents and have them translated into the language(s) they need to serve the largest number of customers.

Customer service managers receive a translation with the same design and layout as the original document. They may also request a human reviewer to check the quality and accuracy of the raw translation, and to make necessary changes to optimize the content.

The result is a valuable resource that customers can turn to when they want to resolve an issue in the language they speak most frequently.

The customer experience is defined by what happens before, during, and after the purchase. Machine translation is valuable in all these stages, particularly when a business wants to provide optimal customer service to multilingual buyers.

Contact us to discuss your translation needs

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