Dealing with Customers in a Different Language

Dealing with Customers in a Different Language

As an international business owner, you or your employees will likely encounter customers who speak a different language. However, there may be ways to work with these language barriers so you do not have to turn away these customers as well as the profit. Here are five ways you can help in dealing with customers worldwide.

Slow Down and Do Not Shout

When you initiate a conversation with someone who speaks a foreign language, slow down your speech, but avoid turning up the volume. Just because they do not speak your language does not mean they are deaf. Speak a little slower than normal and understand that it make take him or her a little more time to understand what you are saying.

Be patient and give your customer the time to listen and understand and always remember to articulate clearly. Also, try to avoid colloquial phrases and use simple words that are most understandable.

Ask for Help

If possible, hire multilingual employees. Establish a list of customer service representatives who speak different languages and provide it to all of your customer service personnel. When a phone call comes in with a customer speaking a foreign language, transfer the call in a respectful manner to an agent with the suitable language skills.

Provide Additional Ways to Communicate

In dealing with customers, there are many ways to communicate with those who do not speak English. You can install translation aids on customer service workstations that include tools such as online translators. You can also equip your customer service representatives with quick-access references they can use while on phone calls.

If you are talking with a customer via email or live chat, you can use free websites to translate your customer’s language into English and then your English response into his or her language. You can use websites such as Google Translate to help.

Even if you do not want to rely on this form of communication, you can use online translators to help your customer understand you are asking him or her to find someone who speaks English to help.

Make Sure Your Customer Understands You Too

If you are uncertain about whether your customer has understood your message, try to confirm meanings by asking questions in different ways. You can also ask your customer to explain to you the information you provided to him or her.

Maintain Your Sense of Humor

Overcoming a language barrier can be very frustrating — we know from experience! However, it is equally frustrating for your customer. Keep a smile on your face and speak in a cheerful tone to help break the tension and make dealing with customers in a different language easier.

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