Article | 6 min read

How to scale a multilingual support team with AI

Advancements in conversational AI have made it possible to provide efficient, on-brand, and human-like automated support in hundreds of languages. Here’s how this tech drives more personalized customer experiences and helps businesses scale efficiently.

By Erika Madriñan, Partner Marketing Manager, Ultimate

Published October 31, 2022
Last updated November 1, 2022

Multilingual support is a must when serving an international customer base: 75 percent of consumers from 29 countries say they’re more likely to purchase from the same brand again if customer care is in their language. That’s not only important for CX in general, but especially so in times when companies are tightening their belts and focusing on customer retention over acquisition: After all, wowing your existing customer base is 5x cheaper than acquiring new customers.

But it can be difficult (and costly) to hire support staff with native-level language skills in every market you serve. Moreover, offering multilingual support often comes hand in hand with serving multiple time zones. And when you can’t guarantee a human agent will be available for each language 24/7, your CX will suffer.

Considering that 80 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase from companies that personalize customer experiences and 75 percent want to make purchases from websites in their native language, localized support is becoming more of a necessity than a nice-to-have.

Luckily, conversational AI technology has advanced rapidly in recent years: The application of deep learning AI to Natural Language Understanding (NLU) technology has made it possible for automated support platforms to understand and reply in hundreds of languages without needing to rely on translation tools or layers.

3 benefits of multilingual customer support automation

Customer support automation tools can help provide quick, localized support in your customers’ language of choice. Here are the benefits you can expect to see when enhancing your support with an AI-powered automation platform.

  1. More efficient customer service

    Speedy and predictable customer support ranks among the top reasons why U.S. consumers stay loyal to a brand. And when automation is done right, you can achieve speed and predictability much more reliably than with a human team alone.

    Process automation, which speeds up email triage and routing processes, ensures incoming queries are either solved automatically or routed to the right rep. This can save support teams several minutes per ticket. Also referred to as ticket automation, this type of automation usually includes the ability to auto-create and enrich tickets.

    It works best when integrated with a customer service solution like Zendesk. Using the software, a virtual agent can easily pull information to identify the most frequently asked questions and use pre-chat forms, tags, and triggers to populate tickets with information. Best of all, process automation provides a bird’s-eye view of every customer conversation, allowing you to see and manage all interactions from one place. Ticket automation works across all digital messaging channels, including WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

    Intelligent virtual agents, the newest generation of chatbots, make sure your customers receive instant answers. Even if a request eventually needs to escalate to a human, chat automation lets virtual agents collect information upfront, so the handoff to the human agent is quick and seamless.

    Finally, API integrations can empower your customers to fully self-serve. Automation platforms that integrate with major back office programs, such as shipment or order management software (OMS), can fully automate requests like generating a return label or changing a PIN code without ever escalating to a human agent.

    All these tools help your company scale without needing to scale your team. You’ll save agent effort and hiring costs. You’ll also improve your CX by freeing up your human agents for more complex queries and those that require a human touch—time they would have otherwise spent looking up order numbers, researching a customer’s past interactions with the support team, and more. And the best virtual agents will do it flawlessly in whichever language you and your customers prefer.

  2. Personalized customer experiences

    According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2022, 76 percent of customers expect personalization. That means a customer experience in line with their language, currency, and location of choice, as well as past shopping or support preferences.

    To meet this need, many automation solutions are now offering multilingual support. You’ll see the highest ROI if you choose one powered by a conversational AI model that understands multiple languages from the beginning. Out-of-the-box solutions that don’t use AI will usually work with translation software. But this can lead to clunky, unclear, and ultimately frustrating customer-bot interactions.

    Again, you’ll want to pair your multilingual support automation platform with a customer service solution to maximize value using automation. With Zendesk, for example, your virtual agent can automatically determine a customer’s location, email and IP addresses, and the device they’re using (mobile or desktop) without relying on manual triggers. It can then chat with your customers in a language based on their location and even switch that language mid-conversation.

    Personalization keeps customer satisfaction up and handle times down, and AI-powered automation helps with both.

  3. Reduced customer friction

    The more languages a support team offers, the harder that team may be to staff: Not only does someone need to be there to manage each language, but some customers may be based in different time zones. If a U.S.-based company gets a lot of requests from shoppers in Asia outside of normal business hours, that will drive up the ticket backlog overnight. And for a customer who’s about to make a purchase, not receiving immediate help might cause them to abandon a purchase or turn to a competitor. That’s why a virtual agent can be such a crucial addition to your support team—it can ensure customers around the world get what they need when they need it, including during off-hours and on weekends.

    24/7 support is key to reducing customer friction, and multilingual support automation lets you provide seamless experiences across markets and time zones.

Success story: How Jackpots.ch scaled its support in 4 languages with automation

Jackpots.ch, a branch of the Grand Casino Baden, is Switzerland’s first online casino. The company offers support in four languages: English, German, French, and Italian. Customer service manager Urs Klingler approached Ultimate when his support team had just started to dip their toes into live chat support.

“To start out with, we provided only email to our customers. Then we started with live chat. Everything was under control, but then the pandemic started. And the numbers exploded,” remembers Klingler.

Jackpots urgently needed to:

  • Deal with a sudden increase in support volumes caused by the pandemic. The team needed to deliver instant responses and resolve queries quickly.
  • Provide 24/7 support to keep the ticket backlog at bay and ensure customers received help after-hours (especially those with payment issues).
  • Offer this level of service across four languages, without hiring additional agents for each language.

Multilingual support automation helped Jackpots:

  • Scale without hiring extra agents: With automation, Jackpots’ support team headcount stayed the same, rather than having to triple in size. This saved the company hiring costs in the hundreds of thousands.
  • Keep customers happy with personalized support: Thanks to automation powered by conversational AI, customers received assistance in their language of choice.
  • Increase efficiency: Using Zendesk, Jackpots was able to streamline its support with process automation and maximize its ROI.
  • Avoid customer friction: 24/7 support ensured every single customer received an instant response to their question. Jackpots’ virtual agent could fully resolve basic issues or quickly escalate them to a live agent, thanks to upfront data collection and streamlined management.

Thriving with automation

Much like the recent pandemic, the current economic situation is forcing companies to innovate for survival. But with efficient, personalized, multilingual support powered by AI, customer support teams can come out the other end thriving, not just surviving.

Unlock growth with AI

The Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report reveals how the breakthroughs in AI, automation, and conversational service enable personalized customer experiences that drive business growth.

Unlock growth with AI

The Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report reveals how the breakthroughs in AI, automation, and conversational service enable personalized customer experiences that drive business growth.

Read the report