Customer retention is a must for any successful business in our competitive, global economic climate. Estimations vary based on individual studies and industries, but, according to this article on the value of keeping the right costumers, it can cost from five to 25 times more to find a new customer than to retain an existing one. Wherever the true number sits, it stands to reason that it’s easier to build on existing relationships with people who already have brand loyalty than it is to recruit and retain new customers. Otherwise, you need to go through the marketing, reduced introductory rates and manpower to set up new accounts and forge new customer relationships.
For businesses that are serious about their success, one way to boost customer retention is to invest in translation. The U.S. is a great example. Increasing numbers of people in the U.S. speak languages other than English, making it more important than ever that brands connect with them in the right way.
Why Translation Matters: Languages Spoken in the U.S., by the Numbers
The U.S. has become increasingly bilingual. Spanish had over 37 million speakers as of 2013 based on this census on Spanish speakers, ranking it as the most spoken non-English language, according to the Pew Research Center. That number is projected to go up to around 40 million Spanish speakers through 2020, up from 11 million in 1980. That’s 233% growth from 1980 to 2013. Clearly, the need for translation services won’t be fading anytime soon.
The U.S. Census Bureau listed a breakdown of languages spoken in the U.S. between 2009 and 2013, with about 231 million people speaking English only at home, while about 60 million people over that period spoke a language other than English at home. Some of the top languages besides Spanish included Chinese, French, Vietnamese, Korean and Tagalog, all boasting over one million speakers in the U.S. This diversity of languages has major implications for business document translation and how that can affect customer retention.
See also: The 3 Ways to Customer Retention
These numbers show that there are vast numbers of customers who would feel more comfortable if a business could speak to them in their language, rather than in English. In fact, having a business accommodate language translation needs can mean higher sales and greater customer retention.
How Translation Can Help Keep Customers
An international survey titled “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: Why Language Matters on Global Websites,” done by Donald A. DePalma, Benjamin B. Sargent and Renato S. Beninatto, shows the impact of language in a buyer’s decision: The more information is available in the buyer’s own language, the higher the probability that it would be a factor in their decision making. Although there is a percentage of consumers that will buy global brands without any information available in their language, smaller brands that are just making their name in the market are more affected by language. In the long run, localization and translation efforts go a long way to help your costumers understand the perks of your products and services.
All of that makes sense. Why would you be willing to buy something if you can’t understand the product information very well? This is especially true in the insurance industry, where customers need to understand complex rate and coverage structures.
Easy Ways to Implement Translation
Translation need not be difficult. If you’d like to boost customer retention, you can start by simply translating a few forms and letters. For instance, you could have a professional translator convert background forms, health surveys, letters informing people that you are reviewing their information or outlines of benefits. A little investment like that could go a long way toward helping customers know that you are willing to meet them on their own terms.
You might also consider having a website translation that offers information in multiple languages. Results from a 2011 Eurobarometer survey (conducted on behalf of the European Commission) show what you lose out on if you don’t:
- 44% of European internet users feel they are missing interesting information because websites are not in a language they understand.
- Just 18% of people search for or buy products online in a foreign language frequently or all the time, with 38% reporting that they do so occasionally and 42% saying that they never do so.
It might be worth having a professional translation of your company’s website completed, so that the site can be read by the widest variety of customers possible. You might also consider having a translation done for marketing materials such as brochures and fliers and even social media messages. That way, you can market additional services to your existing customers who speak other languages in ways that they can easily understand and that will support their longer-term engagement with your brand.
See also: ROI Study on Customer Experience
Whether you want to simply translate a few documents to show customers that you care or undergo a full informational product translation project, doing so can aid customer retention. The numbers show that people who feel that a company helps them understand a product or service in their own language are more likely to do business with that company.