How to Choose the Best Multilingual Live Chat

November 21, 2022
Multilingual live chat greetings

Being able to communicate effectively with all of your customers, wherever they're based, is crucial for business success.

In fact, 72% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that provides help and information in their native language.
So, as your business grows and acquires a larger international audience, an important question arises -

How do you offer high-quality, multilingual customer support? 

A multilingual live chat service is the best answer.

In this article, we'll provide everything you need to know before choosing a multilingual chat solution, including:

  • How to choose the best multilingual live chat
  • A comparison of multilingual live chat providers
  • The next step to getting the most out of multilingual live chat
contact center agent using live chat

How do you choose the best multilingual live chat? 

As chat translation grows more popular, there are an increasing number of multilingual chat solutions on the market.

Let's take a look at the key questions to ask when deciding on the best multilingual live chat for your business.

1. Does the chat translate in real-time?

It's essential that your multilingual live chat can translate in real-time.

This means instant translation into English when an agent receives a message, and instant translation from English into the appropriate language when an agent sends a message to a customer. 

If a multilingual live chat doesn't offer real-time translation, it means your customer support teams will be limited to translated canned responses or translating messages themselves with a translator.

This process of copying and pasting individual messages into a translator and then copying them again into the chat window will seriously reduce the speed of the interaction. 

Delays like this are one of live chats’ biggest don'ts.

Hold-ups in translation can result in slow response times, which is frustrating for customers and leads to high abandonment rates and low first-time resolution rates. 

Delays will also increase the time an agent spends on each interaction, making them less efficient by reducing the number of chats they can deal with per hour. 

For a seamless experience for your customers and your employees, real-time translation is a must-have live chat feature.

contact center agent using live chat

2. Can it detect languages?

This ties into the speed of a live chat, particularly during the first message sent by the customer. 

If the translator can automatically detect what language is being used, it can translate the first message immediately and ensure a fast first response.

If it cannot detect the language, there will be a delay as the agent has to both figure out and select the language they need assistance with. 

Language detection also makes a multilingual live chat more user-friendly for contact centre agents.

When you don’t speak a language, it can be challenging to detect what language it is, especially when it's written down and not spoken.

For example, written Spanish and Portuguese look very similar, so it can be hard for non-speakers to distinguish between them. 

A live chat that can detect what language is being used takes out the guesswork for agents, making it easier for them to use, and providing a more accurate service for customers. 

ecommerce live chat

3. How many languages does the service support?

The number of languages a multilingual live chat supports is important to consider.

Some solutions only translate a couple of languages, while others support more than one hundred. 

Those that support a few languages will likely cover most of your translation needs, but why invest in a multilingual live chat and not go all the way?

For example, you might have one customer that requires support in Finnish.

With a multilingual live chat like Talkative's that offers over a hundred languages, you can do this - earning yourself a satisfied customer that will likely return.

They might even tell all their friends and family about this great company that offers help and information in Finnish, providing you with more customers.

Being able to offer great customer service in as many languages as possible is a great investment in the future of your business. 

magnet attracting customers

4. Does it use the most advanced machine translation?

Most real-time live chat translators use machine translation (MT).

MT is software that can translate content into a desired language without human input. 

A lot of multilingual live chats use generic MT systems and connect them to their own systems through an API.

Some of the most commonly used are Google Translate and Microsoft Translator/Bing. 

The most important thing to consider is, if your chosen multilingual live chat uses a generic MT, ensure it uses the most advanced version offered by the provider.

This type of technology is constantly being improved and updated, so you want to get the best version to give you the best translation feature. 

For example, Talkative multilingual live chat will soon be using Google Translate V3.

This is the most advanced version offered by Google, and includes extra features such as batch translation and a glossary.

A glossary can be particularly handy if there are words you don’t want to translate, such as your company’s name and the names of products.

digital customer experience

 5. Can both parties see original & translated messages?

It’s typical for a multilingual live chat to show agents the original and translated version of exchanged messages in real-time, but it's rare to show both versions to the customer. 

This might sound like a strange thing to do - why would the customer want to read the English version if they require support in a different language?

However, showing the customer both versions can be beneficial. 

The main reason is to do with inaccuracies in translation.

As we have mentioned, most multilingual live chats use machine translation, like Google Translate, to translate messages.

While these are increasingly accurate, they can sometimes translate too literally, meaning the translated version is not exactly how a native speaker would phrase the intended message. 

This usually doesn’t prevent the customer from understanding the message, but providing the untranslated English version might help them gauge what the agent means based on context (if they understand some English).

Additionally, if a particular word has been translated inaccurately given the context, the customer can use a dictionary to look up the English word and see other possible translations that would make sense (and vice versa for the agent).   

In this vain, it's always worth starting a translated live chat with a message that states the agent is using a translation tool.

This protects the agent and warns the customer in advance that translation inaccuracies might happen.

This message can be programmed as a canned response so agents don’t have to type it out every time. 

customer interacting with contact center agent

6. Is it a built-in feature or an add-on?

There are two types of multilingual live chats.

Firstly, you can have a live chat service that offers real-time translation as a built-in feature. In other words, translation automatically comes with the live chat. 

The other option is to buy the translation feature separately and add it into your live chat.

This means your live chat and the translation tool are managed by different companies. 

A built-in translation feature is the better option as it means you only pay for one live chat service and no extra setup, saving you time and money.

It also ensures the translation feature runs smoothly as there will be no issues in the systems running together. 

If you already have live chat on your website, but it’s not multilingual, get in touch with your provider to see if they have a translation feature they can add-on. 

If they don't, consider switching your whole live chat solution to a company that offers built-in multilingual live chat, as opposed to paying for a translation add-on from a different provider.

happy customer using live chat

7. Does it feature a Translation Glossary function?

Finally then, you need to make sure your multilingual chat translator comes with a Translation Glossary function as standard.

And not all translators do.

What does this feature do? it prevents the automatic translation of any product or business names, making sure that you present a branded chat experience whatever the language.

For instance, Talkative in Spanish can be translated as 'Hablador'.

Imagine we spoke to a Spanish customer via our multilingual live chat, and it translated our company name as well as all the other interaction text - this isn't a good look.

That's why Talkative includes our Translation Glossary function within the platform as standard.

It means you can create, edit, update, or even import glossaries to make sure your communications are always crystal clear and on brand.

customer conversation with agent

Multilingual live chat providers compared

The table below features a selection of live chat services that offer support in multiple languages so you can compare some of the best providers for yourself.

Number of languages
Real-time translation
Real-time translation is a built-in feature that automatically comes with the live chat service.
Does not currently support real-time translation. Agents need to use translated canned responses or translate messages themselves.
Translation is not a built-in live chat feature, but it can be purchased as an add-on app.
Uses DeepL as its MT (instead of Google Translate), which currently only offers translation between 11 languages.
Translation is not available in all live chat plans (only in Professional and Enterprise plans).
The Live Chat widget has canned responses in 27 languages, but does not yet support automatic real-time translation.

The takeaway

It's impossible to ignore the growing importance of multilingual live chat in the world of eCommerce and digital customer service.

Online shopping is here to stay and its prevalence is only going to increase worldwide in this era of digital transformation.

So it’s essential that businesses are prepared to embrace a growing market and meet customers where they need them most.

They need to be able to support and communicate with all of their digital customers– whatever language they speak.

And what's the best way to achieve this? By investing in the right technology.

With Talkative’s multilingual live chat, you’ll enjoy real-time translation into over a hundred languages with editable glossaries and reporting.

Alongside our enhanced live chat solution, we provide a suite of customer contact channels, plus deep integrations into systems like Salesforce and Mitel.

As a result, your customer-facing teams will be fully equipped to engage and convert more customers - wherever they're based.

Want to learn more? Book a demo with Talkative today, and discover the key to multilingual live chat success.

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