E-commerce businesses have long since understood the critical nature of CRM (Customer Relationship Management).
In fact, they now see that function as beginning with the first contact with a customer and continuing far after the sale, with follow-up help/support and requests for feedback. Who of us has not had to return an item, contact customer support with an issue, or been the recipient of a request for feedback on our purchasing experience?
All of these elements of customer relationship management have been “perfected” by companies whose reach is primarily within their national boundaries and whose language is the prevailing one for that country.
But what happens when your customers come from foreign countries? Their languages and customs are different, but they are still interested in the products or services you offer. How do you provide for the same exceptional customer relationships that you have for your own native language customers?
The answer, of course, lies in what has become known as “localization.”
Why is this important?
Because, according to Statistica, global e-commerce revenue is expected to rise by 9.7% by 2022. Companies that want in on that rise will need to honor their global audiences by localizing all of their efforts to reach out to them.
Most companies have localized their websites for foreign audiences. This means that they have used the services of native “translators” who do more than simply translate the site and other content. It means that they ensure that all text and visuals are culturally appropriate for the intended audiences. Many companies use established and reputable translation agencies, such as The Word Point – agencies that have those native experts on board to perform these localization tasks.
But this is only one piece of the localization “puzzle.”
You would not leave your native speaking customers without customer support or without relationship management. And when you invite a foreign audience to purchase your products or services, you are also inviting it to reach out to you in its native language. You must be fully prepared to respond in that audience’s language if you are to keep customers and grow more. When you honor their methods of communication, you generate better connections, greater loyalty, and, ultimately, increased sales.
How to Localize Customer Relationship Management
There are a number of methods to localize CRM, and a business that is serious about growing its foreign revenue must utilize them all.
1. Locally-Based Call Centers
This, of course, involves a budgetary response but may be well worth it as a foreign audience grows.
To have native speakers who are trained to respond to any questions or issues can be a welcoming message to customers. It says that the company has expended the time and money to serve them well. And it creates a comfort level that is tough to achieve through other communication means. Having a live person at the other end of a communication outreach, whether digital or in-country, fosters loyalty.
2. Live Chat Options
This is certainly not as personal as telephone calls, but it can be quite effective. And cheaper.
Because a company can utilize machine translation technology, CRM agents can get a pretty good picture of what the customer wants. And the response can be automatically translated into the language of the recipient.
There are several translation tools that can be incorporated into the live chat feature of your website. Take a look at them, test a few out, and pick one that will work relatively well for you. No machine translation tool is perfect, but, with the aid of artificial intelligence, they are all getting better at this.
3. CRM Via Email
Again, you want to think about how you continue to communicate, court, and nurture your native language customers.
Your foreign customers deserve no less. You may have a newsletter to which customer subscribe; you may have a blog which you offer on a subscription basis. And certainly, you contact your customers via email with discounts, special offers, new products, surveys, requests for feedback, etc.
Your foreign audiences should receive the same emails, properly translated and localized for their cultural preferences. For these, machine translations may not be appropriate. You will need natives to accomplish these translations for you so that your tone, style, vocabulary, and images are well-received.
4. Don’t Forget Social Media
Social media platforms have become a major player in CRM.
Take a look at any company Facebook page, and you will find comments and feedback from customers to which those companies will always respond if they want to nurture and maintain relationships.
While many countries support Facebook and other English-speaking social media platforms, there are also local platforms that your customers will be using. It is your job to do the research, to consult with locals, and to discover where your target audience hangs out on social media. You will need to reach out to them where they are, establish profiles and pages in their languages, and continue to nurture relationships.
Again, this is a difficult task without native experts to help. If you are serious about gaining momentum and a competitive edge, you will establish a presence on social media and develop connections and relationships with your target audience. And, you will need a native speaker to monitor the activity, so that you can respond to comments and feedback.
5. Be Mindful of Regulations/Legal Requirements
There are certain regulations in many countries that determine how you can “go after” your target audience.
How do you know what you can do and cannot do? You don’t, without doing the research and finding local legal experts to advise you.
6. Use IP-Intelligence Tools
Many businesses are not familiar with IP-Intelligence.
In a nutshell, this technology gives real-time information about a user who has accessed your site. It can give you the geographic location of that user, the Internet service provider, and more. This technology is far more powerful than cookies. which many users are turning off because they are considered “invasive.” What it allows is the following:
- Localization: IP-intelligence allows advertising to be targeted geographically, even down to the city. It can automate and target the language specifically.
- Analytics: IP-intelligence can allow a business to analyze its web traffic based on where it is coming from and to make marketing decisions based on that data.
- Routing: When it is known where the largest amount of traffic is coming from, there can be modifications made that will enhance the user experience.
Do some research on BI-Intelligence tools and choose one that will work for you.
Wrapping It Up
You no doubt have an overall CRM strategy for your native customers.
You have developed it over time, incorporated the technology and tools that support your CRM goals, and it seems to be working. Now, you are ready to expand into foreign markets. As you look to do this, take a step back. Analyze what is working with your current customer base.
Chances are you can identify those strategies you have in place that make your customers believe that you are committed to their satisfaction. People are no different anywhere on the planet in terms of their need to feel cared about. Put into place the same strategies that you are using at home, localize them for each audience, and you will get the sales response you want.