Post-sales is often overlooked when it comes to localization, but it is vital for building brand loyalty and winning repeat business. We look at why it matters – and what to do about it.
Here at Wordbank, one oversight we come across again and again is the decision to localize the customer journey to the point of purchase, then treat it as job done and leave it there. But customer satisfaction and loyalty are rarely secured at the point of sale. In order to gain repeat business and develop brand loyalty, it’s important not to forget about localizing post-sales support.
WHY POST-SALES SUPPORT MATTERS
Acquiring a new customer costs between 5 and 25 times more than the cost of converting a sale from an existing customer (source: Harvard Business Review), so financially, it makes sense to prioritize acquiring repeat business.
But repeat business is not just the cheaper option – it can also be more lucrative. The Common Sense Advisory (CSA) recently ran a study of 10,000 consumers across 10 markets. Here are their key findings:
- The average e-commerce merchant now generates 43% of their revenue from repeat purchases, with some top performers pushing that figure closer to 75%.
- 74% said they are more likely to be repeat customers if the post-sales support is in their own language.
- 90% of global consumers now expect brands to offer self-service customer support portals.
The figures speak for themselves. Repeat business is fast becoming a vital ingredient of success, but this is often only possible by establishing an accessible, localized post-sales support structure.
You may understandably be concerned that a lack of in-market resources makes engaging international markets in their native language too challenging. But it’s a crucial step for building brand loyalty. Let’s take Japan as an example.
According to the Edelman 2017 Trust Barometer, Japan ranks 26th out of 28 nations surveyed for level of trust in the institutions of business, media, government and NGOs.
Japanese consumers require a great deal of assurance before making purchases. Reviews play a huge part in the consumer decision-making journey and so you should make every effort to generate these from existing consumers.
However, Japan is also ranked 35th on the English Proficiency Index and is generally considered to have low levels of English knowledge. Therefore, post-sales engagement with the aim of gathering reviews and pushing new projects are highly unlikely to work if they’re not localized into Japanese. But this doesn’t mean you necessarily need to invest in live chats or telephone support to capture this engagement – success is also perfectly possible through localized automated CRM communication.
Saving post-sales support costs
As we can see from the case in Japan, English proficiency isn’t nearly as universal as Anglophone speakers might imagine. In fact, 80% of respondents demand after-sales support in their own language, according to the Common Sense Advisory’s study ‘“Can’t Read, Won’t Buy”. And making it difficult for customers to find answers to their queries in a language they understand will mean they don’t buy from you again in future.
But localizing post-sales support doesn’t have to cost the earth – in fact, it will even save you money in the long run. You can make huge customer service savings, while still ensuring customer satisfaction, by investing a small yet strategic amount to localize your post-sales support service. By localizing documentation and building platforms where customers can troubleshoot answers to questions in their own language, you’ll dramatically cut down on contact centre costs, email queries and, if you lack in-market customer service capabilities, unhappy customers that will not buy from you again in future.
Of course, this approach needs to be tailored to individual markets and country-specific consumer behaviour to yield the best results. In Germany, for example, mobile data plans are expensive, so PC desktops are still an important feature of e-commerce. Therefore, we recommend offering a fully functional post-sales support section on your website to your German audience and referring to this in CRM communications, as they’re more likely to be on their desktop and able to easily navigate such a resource.
In China, on the other hand, the growing consumer generation basically skipped PCs altogether and instead engages with brands by using mobile apps like WeChat. This means that to engage with Chinese consumers, you’ll need an active social media presence capable of responding quickly to instant messages at any time of day or night. In India, mobile penetration is high and PC ownership is low, but 3G and 4G is limited and expensive for most, so SMS communication is recommended to give updates and important information.
HOW TO APPROACH POST-SALES SUPPORT
For any international expansion strategy to work, building customer service while balancing investment is essential, especially if you want to move into a maturing market. Self-service sites can play a critical role in your localization strategy.
Online self-service systems feature built-in analytics that let you see the questions customers are asking, both during and after the purchasing journey. You can use this data on pre- and post-purchase behaviour to incrementally improve your consumer experience. Are you seeing frequent searches for delivery update information? This can be solved by localizing your delivery tracker automated emails into their native language.
By empowering customers to find answers to basic questions quickly, you’re protecting your customer support agents’ time so that they can handle complex queries and add value.
Due to the nature of post-sales support, with multiple channels and large teams of agents involved, ensuring that information is always accurate and up-to-date can be a real challenge. Providing an incorrect or inconsistent answer to a customer, whether by email or on the phone, may put them off buying from you again in future.
Localization tools can be an extremely effective solution to this problem. By setting up a multilingual glossary and translation memory, you can ensure consistency across multiple communication channels and establish a coherent, recognizable brand voice.
For example, a web-service support system can be updated by first ensuring the source content is correct and then approving the translations, after which these changes can be rapidly implemented across all channels. The same knowledge base used for the web self-service support system can then be shared with contact centre agents and customers alike.
We can’t recommend using localization tools highly enough and we’ve written a handy blog here to explain in more detail how they work and what they offer.
Engage your audience
Customer engagement is vital for long-term success in any market, but it doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. Through pre-defined communication strategies, you can harness your post-sales communication to increase customer satisfaction, strengthen loyalty and increase brand awareness, all while lowering customer service costs.
By building an automated CRM campaign and leveraging popular social media channels, you can create environments in which consumers can share their experiences with your brand, products and services in a language they feel comfortable with. You can then use this to build real brand loyalty and awareness by focusing on photo-sharing, creating competitions, sharing contributions on new ways to use your product, or asking for feedback on new features. The result will be an increased pool of loyal customers and a strong return on your localization investment.
For example, 49% of Chinese consumers aged 18–25 said they’d advocate for brands, either personally or online (source: World Economic Forum). Luxury brand Coach used this knowledge to build brand awareness by organizing an event in China encouraging consumers to invite friends to join Coach’s WeChat page. Consumers were given a unique barcode and credited 20 points per friend who joined. These points could be used to purchase Coach products online (source: Asia Times).
From our experience, a one-size-fits-all post-sales support system will limit your success. Instead, you need to consider market-specific factors, such as consumer behaviour, expectations and device usage in order to maximize the effectiveness of any post-sales strategy.
For example, in Germany, 83% of German e-commerce shoppers said they would choose one online retailer over another offering the same product because of a positive delivery experience (source: Lengow). Therefore, German consumers would expect to receive delivery and product tracking information via CRM messages, which should be localized in German.
However, due to data privacy concerns, loyalty programmes are ineffective in Germany, whereas in China, nearly 90% of consumers would buy, and buy again, from companies that offer loyalty programmes.
Although the content of your post-sales support strategy will vary from market to market, one truth remains the same: for maximum success, you need to speak to customers in their own language. With careful thought and planning, this does not need to be the massive investment you may expect, and it will reap huge rewards.