How to Choose the Best Multilingual Live Chat

Nicole Davies
August 9, 2022
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Live Chat and Chatbots
Nicole Davies

Did you know that 72% of customers are more likely to buy from you if they receive help in their native language? 

As your organisation or business grows a larger international audience, an important customer service question arises: how do you offer good multilingual customer support? 

A multilingual live chat service is the best answer. It can help to increase conversions, improve customer experience and customer loyalty, and it is cheaper and more efficient than hiring bilingual or multilingual customer service agents. 

How do you choose the best multilingual live chat? 

As chat translation grows more popular, there are an increasing number of multilingual chat services on the market. In this guide we will show you what features to look out for so you can choose the best multilingual live chat solution for your organisation. 

1. Does the chat translate in real-time?

Chat translator

You want a multilingual live chat that translates in real-time. This means instant translation into English when an agent receives a message, and instant translation from English into the needed language when an agent sends a message to a customer. 

If a multilingual live chat is not using real-time translation, it means agents are either relying on translated canned responses (which means there is a limit to the messages they can send), or they are translating the messages themselves using a translator. This process of copying a message, pasting it into a translator in a different tab, waiting for it to translate, copying it again and pasting it back into the chat will seriously reduce the speed of the interaction. 

Delays 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 both customers and agents, real-time translation is an essential feature of any good multilingual 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 in real-time and ensure a fast first response from the agent. 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 is 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, meaning it is easier for them to use, and also provides a more accurate service for customers. 

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? With a service that offers translation for one hundred plus languages, you will be able to offer good customer support to customers no matter what language they speak, which in itself has its benefits. 

For example, you might have one customer that requires support in Finnish. With a multilingual live chat that offers over one 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 worth it, and is a great investment in the future of your business. 

Multilingual live chat

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.  

5. Can both parties see original and translated messages?

It’s typical for a multilingual live chat to show contact centre agents the original and translated version of exchanged messages in real-time, but it is 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 is 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. 

Real-time translation

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. 

An 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 do not, 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. Some live chats with built-in real-time translation are easily integrated into contact centre systems, such as Mitel and Salesforce, so are quick and simple to get running.

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.

It's why Talkative includes our Tranlsation 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.

Compare live chats with multilingual support

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.

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Live chat interaction