Localization is an investment for the future. Like with all investments, costs of a localization project are paid today and benefits will be realized tomorrow. In the context of localization, this means both new foreign customers and lower costs on customer support and service in the future.
Traditionally localization has been used to find new customers who don’t speak your original language. The internet has unified the global market. If you sell or share information online, people around the world are your potential customers. The balance has changed. Today people are actively searching for solutions that your company might be producing.
Very few consumers actually have the patience or time to read the information throughout. And even fewer want to do it in a foreign language. Thus some people won’t buy because they aren’t sure of your offer. On the other hand there are always people who might buy your product or service to solve a problem that you can’t solve. So, as a result you will either lose sales or end up having unsatisfied customers who require expensive customer service or refunds.
Misunderstandings are common when people are reading in a foreign language, or when they use raw machine translation. If you haven’t localized your text, the user might turn to machine translation. But he will do it only if he really wants to understand your message. Otherwise he will go to find an easier solution to their original problem.
Localization is the best way to ensure that the information about the company, products and services are correct and safe – in every language. It’s wise to tell things in your own words if the option is that someone else is telling your story with wrong or incomplete knowledge. After all, you are responsible for the safety of your customers. Localization now can save you from crisis management later. Localization is like good customer service that is made before you even have the customer.
Up-to-date and easy-to-read information prevent misunderstandings and wrong interpretations. This adjusts the expectations to be realistic. Customers encounter fewer problems, are more satisfied and need less personal help. The 100% language cover is difficult (or impossible) to gain in the online world. Luckily many people around the world speak at least one of the major, dominant languages. A surprisingly wide coverage can be achieved with a handful of languages. Those languages are a good starting point.
After the initial learning phase, the localization steps are becoming more familiar and smooth. At that point the company can add more languages quite easily. The beginning can feel challenging, but can your company afford the consequences of not localizing?
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