Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Small World - do we need local languages?

As the world gets smaller, is it OK for big multinationals to serve their customers in one or two languages?
In Europe even in pan-European shared service centers customers are served in multiple languages. But as we get more and more used to self-service via the web or mobile applications which more often than not only comes in a couple of “big” languages, are we now at the point where we want to serve  ex the Nordics and Benelux countries in English or German only.
The argument to support this is
Most people in these countries speak English anyway , they use the internet more than in south Europe for ex and are used to dealing in English so it should not be a way off. Most documentation is in English anyway and as a company it saves money not to have to find the small language speakers – that saving can be passed on to the customer.
But of course there is a different argument
Even if you understand English and can use a webpage (and have easy access to Google translate) it is so much more intimidating to have to string together sentences or understand the spoken word which might be with dialect or some “slang”. That saving is never going to be passed on to the customer anyway.
I believe that if you are in the B2B you can probably get away with it (although I doubt it is good service), but certainly in a B2C environment it is still comparable to shooting yourself in the foot – you will lose business.

1 comment:

HegeMB said...

Nice one Blondie. I agree, using the internet and doing business in English is not the same. A lot of people are still intimidated by foreign languages. And, as you say, it's bad customer service.