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Build multilingual chatbots to reach customers in 50+ languages

 

When IKEA entered the Chinese market, they used the name “宜家” (Yíjiā). Here’s why it worked out for them. 宜 (Yí) means ‘proper’ or ‘suitable’. 家 (jiā) translates to ‘home’ or ‘family’. It brings out all the right emotions that you’d want in your customers while they buy furniture and other things for their home.

Best Buy, however, decided to go another route. They decided to transliterate their name and settle for something that sounds like ‘Best Buy’. So, they chose “百思买” (Bǎisīmǎi).

百思 (Bǎisī) sounds like ‘Best’, but it actually encourages customers to think a lot. When paired with 买 (mǎi) which means ‘buy’, it sounds like a warning. It sounds like they’re asking their customers to reconsider their purchase.

Needless to say, Best Buy tanked in China and ended up leaving the market.

To get your customers to accept you, you need to speak their language. You need to understand their nuances and get them to count you as one of them. 

What are multilingual chatbots?

As we grow globally, more and more customers expect to interact with businesses in different languages and dialects of their choice. This is especially the case when it comes to interacting with a chatbot if you integrate it with your website or other channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, etc. In fact, communicating with customers in their preferred language is an art that successful businesses have conquered. They are now looking for other ways to facilitate translation through neural machine learning APIs in order to translate inbound and outbound messages through multilingual chatbots.

Thanks to the advancements in AI, NLP, and shared open-source efforts, multiple- language chatbots are becoming smarter and vernacular. They chat as fluently as any other human does and are also highly responsive.

One of the most exciting areas of advancement in chatbot technology is a single bot’s ability to understand not just dozens, but hundreds of different languages. In fact, this conversation is not mechanical at all. There is true back and forth translation that is phenomenal to witness and experience. So, multilingual bots are definitely shaping up to be an essential investment for businesses as they help cater to a linguistically diverse customer base.

History of multilingual chatbots

It began in 2019 with a Dentsu Aegis report highlighting three V's that will drive digital content growth –

Multilingual chatbots, i.e., chatbots that can interact with customers in multiple languages, can be a tremendous asset for any organization. Especially in countries like India, which is rich in linguistic diversity. 

The digital revolution in India significantly expanded the nation's Internet user base to include huge numbers of non-English speakers, who far outnumber the region's English speakers. Hence, we saw the emergence of multilingual chatbots.

Moreover, the 2nd generation multilingual chatbots have come a long way from just responding to customer messages with just a single word. They don’t usually have errors in them anymore.

The world is now more connected than ever before. We need a progressive culture that supports customer demands and lives up to their expectations. AI is helping bring about the much-needed culture of automation and breaking language barriers in every way possible.

Let’s get into the basics before we can get started.

Connecting with customers in their own language

The globalization of businesses allows customers from all over the world to engage with brands. However, there needs to be a homogenization of brand communication to avoid creating dissonance between the brand and the customer. That's why connecting with customers in their own language is vital.

Think about it this way- When you decided to visit a country where there was a language barrier, you came there by choice. But would having such a negative experience urge you to comeback?  

It's the same when global customers arrive on your landing page. You’ll have to work harder to keep them engaged by providing value in their own language.  


Step into your customers' shoes

Before you dive into connecting with customers in their own language, you have to understand their needs. Think about what problems they’re trying to solve and how your product or service provides a solution. Show your global customers that you empathize with their problems and how you have the tools to fix them.

By stepping into your global customer’s shoes, you’ll also understand how to best communicate with them. The personas for global versus local customers vary significantly. By researching the customers in the areas, you want to expand to, you’ll be able to identify the tone of your messaging and how you want to engage with them.  

Consider working with mentors from the area you’re hoping to expand to, and extensively researching your target audience’s culture.  

Transcreational messaging

If only we could take our message, plug it into a translator, and call it a day. Unfortunately, that’s now how communication works. Our brains don’t process language the same way a translator does. It's in kahoots with other cognitive functions like attention and memory- both of which could also play a role in how we generate language as well.  

When we hear a sentence, our brain parses through and memories and searches for when we’ve heard this phrase before. It then compares it with how it’s being used now. We intuitively think about the context, and that’s a simple way of understanding how we process language.

As you can see, memory and context play a significant role here. And that there's a huge gap between this and a translator. Translators looks at phrases and try to understand it word-for-word, and jumble around the puzzle pieces until we arrive at a sentence. This works when you’re writing an essay for a class (and wanting a maximum grade of a C!), but not when you’re trying to communicate with customers in their own language.  

That's why more than translating a message, you have to transcreate. I.e., you have to take your original message and adapt it to the other language while keeping intent, style, tone, and context consistent.

Chatbots as a guide

You know what would have amplified your visit? Knowing the local language. But learning a new language can take years to master. And sometimes, being a novice and communicating in a new language can be embarrassing.  

“What if I humiliate myself?”  

Imagine your customers felt the same way when interacting with your brand. That’s no way to make a customer feel. It's our job to ensure your customers feel less like a tourist, and more like a family. It's harder to learn a new language than it is to communicate in your own.  

56.2% of customers believe obtaining information in their own language is more important than price.

Thus, it’s time to work with Instant Web’s multilingual chatbots. If the landscape of customer service is moving towards autonomy, your global customers shouldn’t get left behind. Use a multilingual chatbot as the bridge between you and your global customers.

The need for multilingual support

The world we live in is only getting smaller. Communities, countries, and cities are becoming more connected. And businesses are growing on a global scale. Language can no longer be a barrier. In fact, multilingual support can increase how likely a customer is to repurchase. So, how do you moderate each experience so that every customer from across the globe feels special? The answer - A Multilingual Chatbot.  

Let’s look at the facts:

So, if these are the facts, why is everyone so behind?

You need to figure out how to close the communication gap between you and your global customers. You need to understand what your customers want, and how they’re asking for it so that you can take care of them.

This capability makes chatbots an indispensable tool for businesses, considering the fact that expansion is key for all businesses. It’s great to see that businesses now have the opportunity to expand outside their current local market. They are penetrating into countries with entirely new customer bases and new languages. In a similar way, Instant Web is shaping language translation in chatbots with its multilingual chatbots feature to help businesses grow.

With this, businesses are not just able to cater to user queries 24/7 but are also able to provide a personalized chat experience in a language, which the customer wants to speak.

The digital age

The effects of digital technology and the internet on translation are continuous, widespread and profound. From automatic online translation services to the rise of crowdsourced translation and the proliferation of translation Apps for smartphones, the translation revolution is everywhere. The implications for human languages, cultures and society of this revolution are radical and far-reaching. 

In the Information Age that is the Translation Age, new ways of talking and thinking about translation which take full account of the dramatic changes in the digital sphere are urgently required. Michael Cronin examines the role of translation with regard to the debates around emerging digital technologies and analyses their social, cultural and political consequences, guiding readers through the beginnings of translation's engagement with technology, and through to the key issues that exist today.

Customers demand self-service support in their native language

According to research by Steven Van Belleghem, 70% of customers expect the company they're buying from to offer self-service support on their website. Additionally, according to this same research, 40% of customers globally prefer self-service to human contact. While not the majority, that's still a big number.

So this paints a picture: the majority of users expect self-service options, and at least 40% prefer it.

How, then, do we give them what they want? With multilingual chatbots of course.

How do multilingual chatbots work?

Most multi-language bots are either programmed with a sophisticated NLP engine that helps them identify language, or more commonly, a bot designer redesigns the chatbot to interact in that specific language. Based on how it is programmed, it can auto-detect language either through its own engine, or by looking at the browser preferences of the end-user. 

There are some chatbots that incorporate techniques from large-scale multi language models like BERT, mBERT, LASER, etc.

The benefits of multilingual chatbot

 

You can reach a global audience

You want to meet the high end of your organization’s possible earning potential. So, what do you do? Without a good translation and localization strategy, it’s impossible to enter the global market. Chatbots have already begun to go global. Businesses across the world are now beginning to accept and tap on to the potential of chatbots.  

The technology is attracting individual teams as well. For example, Forester conducted a study last year. It suggests that close to 57% of marketing professionals are using chatbots to generate leads and enhance customer engagement.

Teach your chatbot as many languages as possible. The more languages the bot can fluently converse in, the more individuals will want to buy your products and services.

Create a multilingual domain-specific chatbot to answer real-time queries.‍

For more effective engagement

The truth is that people rarely make purchases from English-only sites. The language determines how long they stay on a website, so if you’re not able to speak to global customers in their own language, you’ve got a problem. 

While many consumers are multilingual, they’re more comfortable buying from someone who interacts with them in their native language. 

A natural-language chatbot can engage customers in their native tongue, across regions and countries. Don’t count on an instant translation or web application. Think about the languages your bot has to speak. If you’re speaking English and consumers speak Spanish, there will obviously be a communication gap. Be certain you’re able to hear people clearly – in other words, embed a chatbot on your website. The volume of work you have to put in is great, but there is great potential for interacting with customers using vernacular language. Include every potential language that people speak.

It gives you a competitive edge

If you can’t stand out from the crowd, you can’t thrive. Chatbot technology is already here, but not all businesses accept it. According to Forbes, only 57% of firms are using bots or planning to do so. When it comes to the adoption of multilingual chatbots, the percentage is significantly lower. Integrating a multilingual bot into your website will help you stand out from the crowd. A chatbot that speaks customers’ preferred languages will help them feel understood and feel like they matter. This is why having a multi-language interface is crucial.

Helps in saving time and reducing employee language training costs

This is the chatbot era. Many renowned companies have used and will continue to use chatbots to interact and provide customers with answers. For instance, H&M uses chatbots in retail to bring the best of online shopping. It can define the style, suggest outfits, and dislike selections. Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft all have virtual assistants that meet multilingual needs. 

Training employees in every possible language to connect with customers from across the globe isn’t feasible. What you should be doing is teaching the bot to converse in various languages. This will ensure a superior customer experience by eliminating communication gaps caused by users making inquiries in non-English languages.

Being multilingual enables you to reach out to potential clients at the right time. Basically, you can focus on high-value clients and connect with them for immediate assistance.

To provide consistent messaging

To be human is to be flawed, and sometimes, our agents just have bad days. While a positive attitude or a smile doesn’t guarantee excellent customer service, it certainly does help. It isn’t easy, and live agents make mistakes sometimes, which is why a multilingual chatbot is an excellent companion to your agents. 

Chatbots rarely falter and are programmed to provide excellent service every time. Not only does a bot stimulate human conversation, but it also drives better engagement by being interactive.

Moreover, a native language bot doesn’t have emotions, so it can respond politely if it’s programmed to do so. No matter what the person is saying, the bot will ensure the optimal experience. Millennials, in particular, want everyone to be nice and polite and you can’t afford to disappoint them. If you can’t meet the demands of the younger generation, you won’t stay in business for too long.


To increase sales

Sales are about having conversations and building relationships with potential buyers. The potential is increasing with the coming of online commerce where customers can browse through a plethora of products.

This is giving them an opportunity to select from a variety of options. It is giving customers more power to make decisions and become loyal customers for the brands that they trust.

Multilingual chatbots are making on-demand information accessible. That too in the choice of language that customers want to pick. Chatbots, therefore, are creating value in the market and improving customer support.

Such little things add value in the end and promote sales for businesses.

In fact, Gartner has already shared a report in which the forecast says that chatbots will manage 25% of customer support and services. Customers from different geographies respond to chatbot technology differently but it will grow further eventually.

The technology is still relatively new and chatbots may currently be best suited to filling in the gap before the handoff to human agents. Even at this stage, chatbots are expected to bring in cost savings of USD 11 billion in the retail, banking, and healthcare sectors.

Factors to consider when creating a multilingual chatbot:

‍Bots and humans communicate harmoniously when you keep these factors in mind

 
  • Make it easy to switch languages

You need to make it easy for customers to select their preferred language. Don’t make them struggle while trying to understand the default language before they find the one they’re looking for.

Present the language options upfront. Preferably in the greeting message.

  • Introductory messages in all supported languages.

This ties into the previous point. You’d want to share your initial instructions and introductory messages in all the languages you support so that the user can understand them and choose the language they prefer.

  • No missing values

Go through all your strings and messages to ensure that nothing is missing, including the settings and default values.

You’d end up with a rather awkward UX if they end up seeing keys instead of actual messages from your bot.

  • Avoid special characters

When it comes to some languages, you’ll end up with errors if you use special characters like *, “”,^.$,#. Adding them to the language key might cause an error while localizing your multilingual chatbot.

  • Localized and personalized

Back in the day, your local store spoke to patrons in the language they were comfortable with and even knew them personally.

They knew their names, what they usually ordered, and even a bit about their personal life. They had a relationship with their customers. One should make sure to engage with their customers and make their experience more personalized.

Small gestures like these go a long way in making your customers feel valued and they are more likely to return to make a purchase from your business.

  • The cost factor

It’s just too expensive to hire enough employees to engage customers and build relationships with them in their own language.

Fortunately, that's not necessary anymore.

Here’s where AI comes in.

Multilingual Chatbots can help you personalize your customer engagements at scale. And not just by referring to them by their name. They can have contextual conversations with your customers, keeping past conversations in mind.
With live chat, your agents can converse with multiple customers simultaneously, while referring to past conversations for context.

And, this allows you to localize your conversations too.

With Instant Web, your multilingual chatbots and live agents can converse with customers in over 50+ languages.That means, you get to engage with your customers in Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and many more languages, in addition to the usual English conversations.


Common languages used on the internet
The most common languages of the internet as of 2019
Source: Medium

  • Cultural alignment

Technology will help you get access to quality services such as professional translations and sentence generation. But are the promises to your customers limited to these quality services? Wouldn’t you want to take it up a notch and deliver cultural alignment to your customers?

In fact, the way in which you train the chatbot must ensure that the language is aligned with local contexts and phrases. With a genuine localized process, you can test the localization of your bot and see how well your bot performs.

So if the majority of your customer base is from a country like India, your business is going to witness some drastic growth with multilingual chatbots.

  • Flexibility

The combination of working with a flexible chatbot platform, alongside a linguist who speaks and understands the local language and its variants will make your customer feel more comfortable when interacting with your chatbot. These linguists provide lexical resources that improve the NLU development for your Multiple-language chatbot.  

They will provide localization, so you can make your chatbot sound less like a tourist trying to fit in, and more like a resident. The more comfortable your customer, the more authentic the interactions.  

They’ll capture the intent of the words being used. Context, culture, and linguistic norms impact not only the words but the intent behind those words. And what better tool to use, than a linguist?

The winning combination of a chatbot working in tandem with a linguist will capture the essence and deliver the magic straight to your customers.  

But none of this matters, without the right chatbot platform. 

Build a multilingual chatbot with Instant Web

With Instant Web, you can build a multilingual bot in 50+ international languages. This will not only ensure customer support but will also enable in-depth customer care.

If you have a huge English-speaking customer base, then it’s great if you have an English-speaking bot.

Instant Web has everything you need in order to take a global audience and make each segment accept you as a local. It’s got what you need to get them to accept you.

Auto sense languages

Your Instant Web chatbot can automatically detect the languages it supports and switch to them when a user sends a message in that language.

It can even pick up their browser’s default language and send messages in that language.

Conversation flow modeler

Instant Web’s conversational flow modeler allows you to edit conversation paths visually on a single canvas via a simple drag & drop user interface.

It even has a set of standard, canned paths that you can use.

Supports 50+ languages

Instant Web’s chatbots allow you to converse in multiple languages, including, but not limited to Portuguese, Spanish, German, Korean, Chinese, and many other languages, in addition to English.

See how Instant Web’s multilingual chatbots feature is going to help you and your business conquer customer support.

Right-to-Left (RTL) support

We even support conversations in Right-to-Left (RTL) languages. That means you can build bots and converse with your customers in languages like Arabic, Urdu, Persian, and Hebrew.

  • 1 path, multiple languages

With Instant Web, you don’t need to create separate paths for every single language that you want your chatbot to converse in.

You can build a single path and add strings for all the languages you want your chatbot to support.

  • FAQs associated with a language

Instant Web allows you to have multiple sets of FAQs and associate each of them to an individual language.

You just need to click on ‘Add FAQ’ in the FAQ workflow under the ‘Build’ section. Now you need to select the language that you want this set of FAQs to correspond with.

When you enter the query, its variations, and the response, click on ‘ADD’. You’ll find the FAQ added and tagged to the language you selected.

  • Tried, tested, and loved across 186 countries

Instant Web’s chatbots have been used and loved all over the world. Our 32000+ customers have built 45000+ chatbots across 186 countries and have all loved our bots.

Herman Miller, IKEA Europe, PwC, JanSport, Unitel, and many others across the world strongly believe that Instant Web’s chatbots are the best.

Some organizations using Instant Web’s chatbots in multiple languages

With over 54 languages to choose from, Instant Web has eliminated all possible barriers of communication. We currently have chatbots deployed in languages such as Indonesian Bahasa, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Filipino, Turkish, Danish, German, Hungarian, Malay, Swedish, Thai, Vietnamese, Croatian, Czech, Latvian, Malagasy, Polish, and Russian!  

And what’s more?

Instant Web supports RTL on its platform. This allows your vernacular chatbot to align user-input from right-to-left dynamically. For businesses that operate in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, or in Hebrew, this one’s for you!  

So, build a bot in different languages for the function of your choice with Instant Web. With 45,000 active bots deployed across 186 countries, you can’t go wrong.

Here are some of our multilingual bots in action with some use cases that you might find interesting.

IKEA  

IKEA Italy uses an Instant Web chatbot to serve their visitors Italian as well as English. It helps them get directions to the stores, navigate inside the store, and even get parking information.

iMile

iMile using Engati's multilingual chatbot
iMile's chatbots supports customers in both Arabic and English

With their sights set on becoming the largest cross-border e-commerce technology logistics company in MENA, iMile created an Instant Web chatbot that engages with customers in both English and Arabic.

It helps them with sales inquiries and even allows them to schedule, track, and cancel orders.

DP World

Dubai Ports World uses an Instant Web chatbot to help truckers, haulers, and consignees get updates on their containers, yard locations, wait times, and notifications about delays over WhatsApp and their website.

Their Instant Web chatbot holds conversations in multiple languages, including Arabic and English. It will soon be integrated with a VoIP solution.

Gruppi

Hungarian retailer, Gruppi uses an Instant Web chatbot to display their catalog, drive sales, and support customers.

Their bilingual chatbot, Gréti, engages their customers in Hungarian and English.

Global Village

Supposed to be the world’s largest tourism, leisure, shopping, and entertainment center, Global Village, Dubai has a multilingual chatbot that helps customers with everything from parking to loyalty card bookings. It does all this in multiple languages, including Arabic.

UBU

Canada-based UBU uses their Instant Web chatbot to educate citizens about COVID-19 and fight the pandemic. Their chatbot provides this essential service in both of Canada’s official languages — English and French.

JCDecaux

Being the world’s largest outdoor advertising corporation, JCDecaux understands the importance of engaging customers in the language they are most comfortable with.

Their Instant Web chatbot, Ad2Go serves customers by helping them with inquiries and guides them as they plan advertising projects.

Ad2Go serves its customers in English as well as Chinese.

Build your multilingual chatbot now!

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