The stay home at home era has necessitated the need for companies to offer services via digital channels. So websites, voice assistant, chatbots and apps have been put to use.
The question we need to ask is whether these tools are enabled for multilingual experiences? A cursory scan of multiple company sites reveals that there is much work to be done. India has so many languages and to properly service customers with varying degrees of skills, digital tools of companies will need to communicate with them in the language of their preference.
We have implemented multilingual experiences for more international clients than local ones. Indian companies have perhaps prioritised other features, but this is undoubtedly going to change.
Some of the key learnings from our work are
Companies have either used Google Translate or Microsoft Translator API to created automated experiences. At its simplest, there was a language selector panel that helped visitors read in the language of choice. Some trade shows followed this approach. Some companies also delivered different imagery based on the location of the user. The translation needs to be accurate but instead saw a disclaimer. This will need to change for the better.
A few companies wanted to get the language nuance and messaging right. The product offers, imagery and messaging were customised for each region or market of the company. The information was human translated and verified for accuracy. The content management server delivered the site based on the IP.
Automated translation does not always mean easy and accurate. There may be glitches. There is a need to set the expectations of the translated experience and then decide what level of automation is needed.
Different language experiences are going to be a necessity as companies begin to implement self-help tools, automated bots and also more digital experiences. Only focusing on a couple of languages will not do.
Human translated content may have budgetary implications but still, needs to be factored into the workflow. If a company want to run digital platforms in a specific language, then the related campaigns, communication and service touchpoints should also be addressed.
Multilingual does not mean one-way language experiences. Companies will need a wholistic enhancement of the workflow also to include the ability to handle consumer responses in their preferred language.
Good conversations transcend language barriers.