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  • Writer's pictureDavida Fernandez

Delivering Exceptional Multilingual Customer Support with Zendesk

Multilingual Customer Support with Zendesk

So you’re thinking about jumping into the exciting world of multilingual support.

This is a huge step forward in maturing your support operations, and there are lots of compelling reasons to do it. While providing customer service in multiple languages can feel like an overwhelming task, it’s totally doable if you approach it systematically.

Equipped with the right tools, your support team can effectively help your customers from all over the globe, fostering greater customer loyalty and satisfaction in the long run.

Benefits to offering multilingual support

Providing multilingual support positions your business to enter into new markets and gives you a competitive edge by improving your brand reputation.

Localized support can significantly improve crucial KPIs, including customer satisfaction, net promoter scores, and customer effort scores. Best of all, implementing multilingual support can increase sales and reduce customer churn in your global markets.

  • According to Can’t Read, Won’t Buy, 65% of consumers prefer content in their native language, even if it’s imperfect. 40% refuse to make a purchase in another language.

  • Intercom found that 29% of businesses have lost customers due to lack of multilingual support, 35% of end users would be willing to switch products, and 70% say they feel more loyal to companies that provide support in their native tongue!

The benefits of localized support are big. Luckily, transforming your support team into a multilingual offering is doable with Zendesk. Zendesk offers a powerful set of robust features that enable your operations to deliver a full language experience across all its products.

Key questions to ask before moving to a multilingual support model

Before diving headfirst into your Zendesk account settings, there are crucial questions you should ask before launching multilingual support. Here are just a few questions you should be asking yourself before you start configuring Zendesk:

  1. What languages do you want to support? The whole point of offering multilingual support is to improve your ability to connect with customers. To figure out what languages make sense for your business, start by analyzing your customers’ preferred languages.

  2. Which should you start with? If you serve a global customer base, you may have a dozen languages you could offer support in. Typically, it’s best to tackle the biggest opportunity first, then roll out to other languages once you’ve built a good process.

  3. Are you looking to expand into untapped markets or are you wanting to provide better support to your current customer base? Your company’s strategic direction plays a part in determining what languages you support. For example, you may not have many customers speaking German today. But if your growth team is working towards a major European market expansion, then it might make sense to begin working on providing support in German.

  4. Will you start with your help center first, or aim to launch multiple aspects at once? Since your help center is written, it’s often easier to translate your help center articles than it is to provide live support in another language—especially if you leverage Help Center Manager’s auto-translation feature.

  5. What’s your budget look like? There are many ways to offer multilingual support, and each has a different price tag:

    1. For the most cost-effective approach, you can simply translate your help center content, but still only offer live support in one language.

    2. A middle-ground is using a translation app like Triggers+GPT to translate your Zendesk tickets. This enables you to provide human support in many languages, without worrying about hiring agents proficient in many languages.

    3. The most expensive approach is to hire native speakers directly into your team or to partner with an outsourcing company (BPO), like PartnerHero. Direct hiring can give you more control, but BPOs are often far better at scaling up or down to meet your business needs.

The answers to these questions should shape your approach and your game plan.

Before starting, it’s also smart to grab as many baseline metrics as possible. This will allow you to measure the change in performance after you launch your multilingual support.

Finally, prepare to be diligent in documenting how you set everything up (excellent advice that I always rarely follow). You’ll likely be touching a lot of triggers, workflows, business rules, and placeholders. When it’s time to introduce a new language, you’ll want to be sure you know all the various places in the app that will need to be updated.

Now that you have all those proverbial ducks in a row, it’s time to head into Zendesk.

Setting up Zendesk for multilingual support

To get the ball rolling, head into your account settings in the admin center and select Appearance > Localization. From there you can select the language(s) you want to support, then click the Save tab.

It’s important to note that every language isn’t available across all of Zendesk’s products. These Zendesk products support multiple languages:

  • Support, Talk, Guide and Web Widget (messaging)

  • Chat

  • Sell and Sell Mobile app

  • Explore

  • Support and Chat mobile apps

  • Mobile SDK

  • Help center

  • Advanced AI

Most of these products support a slightly different list of languages from each other, so it’s a good idea to check that the language(s) you would like to provide to your customers are available for the products you plan to use. As one example, at the time of this writing English (United Kingdom) is available on all products except for Sell and Sell Mobile app.

It’s also important to note that Zendesk does not offer automatic translations for any user-provided text, such as macros and help center articles. However, depending on the product, the UI itself will change to the language selected from the user profile dropdown.

Both your agents and your customers can update a user’s preferred language in their user profile. If a new user doesn’t have a profile set up yet, or if they are unauthenticated, Zendesk can even detect the native language of the user in a number of clever ways, maximizing the chances of a great customer experience in your customer’s preferred language.

Once your customer’s preferred language has been identified, it can be accessed in rules, triggers, automations, views, and reports. Here are just a few ways you can use the preferred language to transform your customer experience:

  • Using a requester’s language in your business rules allows you to smartly route tickets, and send system emails, such as any auto recognition replies, in the same language of the user.

  • Use dynamic content to ensure the right version of content—the preferred language—is automatically shown to your end users. Dynamic content can be used across your automations, macros, triggers, custom fields, custom agent statuses, and any system emails.

To illustrate, let’s say you have set up a macro called “Declined credit cards” to be applied to relevant tickets.

In this case, you would set up a placeholder, e.g. {{dc.card_declined}}, that would contain the default language text, plus any added language variants that contain translations of the text to be used in the macro. When an agent uses the macro, Zendesk will send the version that matches the language in the user’s profile.

Translating your help center content

Your Zendesk help center should be the first stop for your customers when they need help. When you start offering support in multiple languages, it can feel like a huge effort to translate your help center resources into the appropriate languages.

There are some general steps you need to take to prepare your Zendesk help center for multilingual support:

  1. Configure your help center to support multiple languages.

  2. Get your articles translated into your supported languages.

  3. Translate your sections and categories to ensure proper display of the translated articles.

  4. Add your translated content to your help center.

  5. If necessary, include translated text snippets throughout your help center. Many of the pre-built page elements used in your help center are already localized. For example, the element that lets users vote on an article’s usefulness will automatically be localized based on their preferred language.

The easiest way to translate your help center content is to use a tool like Help Center Manager. Leveraging advanced machine translation technology (powered by GPT4), it can automatically translate all of your Zendesk Guide articles into any language—without destroying your formatting or images.

This in-depth guide to supporting multiple languages in your Zendesk help center shows you exactly how to transform your help center from one language to many.

Zendesk gives a great foundation for multilingual support

Zendesk has a number of tools and features that make it easy to offer multilingual support. By taking advantage of these features, your support team can effortlessly serve customers worldwide, fostering long-term customer satisfaction.

If you’re looking for even more details on multilingual support and Zendesk, be sure to visit Zendesk’s help center section on multilingual support.

And if you’re ready to get started with multilingual support today, there’s no easier way than by using Help Center Manager to automatically translate your entire help center into any language. You can start your free 14-day free trial today!


Davida Fernandez

​​​Written by Davida Fernandez

Davida Fernandez is a seasoned CX leader, with over 15 years of expertise in SaaS Support. With a knack for building tech-driven support operations, she leads high-performing technical support teams with an unwavering dedication to operational efficiency, employee enablement, and delivering exceptional customer experiences.


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