Why translate the whole customer journey?

Global marketplaces are expanding, offering your business remarkable growth opportunities. But a big marketplace can also be a competitive one, and one of the biggest barriers to doing business internationally can be language. 

While this barrier can be overcome with multilingual translation, customer experience remains as important as ever. Studies have shown that getting the implementation of translation wrong can have unintended negative consequences on your business. 

The linguistic habits of the world are perpetually evolving. In his 2013 study, Navin Kumar Singh said that, “With globalization […] multilingualism practices have become norms rather than exceptions in most part [sic] of the world”. In other words, if part of your business is international, you’ll need your translation service to work both as a language tool and as a customer experience.

The impact of language on customer experience

In 2013 the ICMI published a study on how language influences purchasing decisions. Their study found that 79% of businesses had customers who weren’t native speakers of the primary language(s) that they served, and that 60% of those customers expected service in their native language.

There are numerous examples of successful customer experiences and journeys in this multilingual business world. Netflix, for example, offers its content in multiple languages, with subtitles, dubbing and original audio options, and they all work seamlessly. The sportswear company New Balance enhanced its brand reputation and loyalty across markets following the implementation of a project that transcreated their online presence into 16 different languages.

The benefits of translating the whole customer journey

There are many benefits to translating your entire customer journey. A better user experience has been demonstrated to have a significant influence over consumer decision making, at least matching price in their list of priorities.

“73% of consumers believe that customer experience is a deciding factor when making purchasing decisions”

A 2023 study by Zippia

But translating your entire customer journey also has other hidden benefits as well. It increases accessibility for users, while successful implementation should also increase both your SEO ranking and social media visibility in the very regions that you need to target. The benefits to your bottom line are clear; Zippia also found that “96% of customers say that customer service is an essential factor in brand loyalty”, and that conversion rates also increased with customer satisfaction.

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Challenges and solutions in multilingual translation

While implementing multilingual translation has never been easier, it still comes with its challenges. Make sure to balance cost and quality. There’s little point in implementing all bells and whistles if you simply don’t need them, but at the same time skimping on what you need could do your business more damage than good. 

Be sure to take cultural linguistic nuances into account. Your customers will want to speak to people who speak like them. Worse still, you wouldn’t want to offend a community through careless language, something which is possible without sufficient diligence. 

For thousands of years, translation services have been carried out by highly skilled professionals, often making them too costly for most. Today, professional translation companies use technological advances to offer the multilingual solutions needed to thrive in international markets. This technology allows translators to work efficiently, ensure consistency across translations and reduce the chance of human error, all while keeping the professional translator at the heart of the work.

Best practices for translating your customer journey

There are steps that your business can take in order to effectively translate your customer journey.

Understand your business needs

There are tools that can help you to understand both your existing and potential new customers, but what is it that they actually need from their customer experience? You’ll need to know this before you start implementing anything. Forewarned is forearmed!

Integrate translation into your broader content strategy

Put translation front and centre into your broader content strategy. Successful integration isn’t necessarily about how much money you spend; it’s about making it a core part of your company values.

Collaborate with native translators and cultural consultants

Even different versions of the same language can have cultural nuances. The word “football”, for example, means something very different in England to in the USA. This is an obvious example of two worlds being separated by a common language, but there may be many others that are less obvious or possibly even offensive to the very customers that you will be trying to court!

Use technology for consistency and scalability

While technological solutions can offer lower-cost options for multilingual translation, partnering with a professional translation company ensures superior quality and accuracy. Before implementing any technology, test it thoroughly to ensure it meets your standards. Also, make sure your solutions are easily scalable to accommodate your business needs. For instance, if you need to add more languages than originally planned, a professional translation company can seamlessly integrate these without compromising quality.

Set targets and benchmark your progress

Once in place you’ll need to monitor how your services are performing against your expectations. Try to make these measurable, if you can. Customer surveys, for example, are a great way of establishing the real world impact of your implementation while also allowing you to connect to your existing customers and demonstrate to them that meeting their needs matters as much to your business as it does to them.

We live in an increasingly globalised economy, and the benefits of this are obvious. Products and services can be sold across continents with ease in the 21st century, and this presents opportunities for all businesses to significantly grow their bottom lines. We also know that customer experience is more important to customers than ever, and that they increasingly expect to carry out transactions in their native languages. 

In a global marketplace with so many markets to potentially tap into, multilingual translation is no longer a fancy bolt-on. It’s a tool that you can’t afford to be without. The benefits of improving your entire customer experience through multilingual translation are demonstrable, so perhaps now it’s the time to take that step and increase your business’s international reach, as well. Get in touch with our team who will talk you through the website translation process and can assign native translators to your marketing translation projects.

Kitty LEaF blog 2021

About the Author


Kitty Trewhitt is a translation project manager at LEaF Translations. She oversees each phase of the translation project and keeps in contact with both the client and linguists throughout the process. Besides managing our projects, Kitty also translates and proofreads texts from French and Italian into English, as well as creating LEaF’s monthly newsletter and managing the company social media accounts.