Let’s say you’re like one of the millions of Americans who need their caffeine fix every morning. Now let’s say you’re traveling in a foreign country where English isn’t the first, second, or even third language spoken by the majority of the populace. You’re driving around in your rental car, already confused by the road signs because you don’t speak the dominant language in the country you’re visiting. You have a meeting in ten minutes, and you know from experience that you won’t be at your best if you don’t get your extra-large mocha latte. Then you make a turn onto a commercial street and you spot a miracle in the distance: That iconic green-and-white logo of Starbucks.
Relieved, you roll into the parking lot and are delighted to find out that there is a drive-through, since you don’t have enough time to go in and wait in line. But when you get up to the ordering mechanism, your heart sinks. The menu delivers in the local language, and you can’t read a word of it. “No problem,” you think. “I know this menu well enough to figure it out.” But when you try to place your order, the barista on the other end can’t understand you because he doesn’t speak English—and neither does anyone else in the building, it seems. Frustrated, you leave the drive-through and head to your meeting. The meeting goes well enough, you suppose, but it probably would have been better, had you gotten the chance to enjoy your latte. Strangely, your opinion of Starbucks suffers as a result.
In a previous article, I discussed how eliminating the middle-person in any language exchange is a win-win. With the technology available to allow anyone to communicate with anyone else in any language, a business can cut costs on translating self-service knowledge centers, improve the customer service experience while also drastically reducing the cost of employing representatives for dozens of different languages, and even open the potential to reach new market space. But what many businesses—including Starbucks—are discovering is this: Investing in communication services like CSD Direct makes a tremendous amount of business sense, as well. It doesn’t just improve customer satisfaction; it improves the bottom line.
Recall our Starbucks drive-through example. In that instance, your frustration about not being able to communicate cost Starbucks a sale. You weren’t alone in making that kind of decision, either. According to studies, 72% of customers are more likely to invest in a product or service if they have access to information about that product/service in their own language. It’s really very simple: If you do speak English, but don’t speak Russian, and you have the choice to order a product from an English or Russian website, you’re more likely to order from the website you understand, even if the price is significantly different. Another study suggests that this trend bears out in every industry, and regardless of whether the message is delivered in spoken or written word. In fact, 75% of customers in any setting prefer to buy products if they can interact with the website or salesperson in their native language.
This is exactly why so many companies are making the investment in expanding their language and communications capabilities. The increasingly global marketplace demands it. But a study by Forbes and Rosetta Stone reveals that most companies find the challenge of supporting multiple languages to be a particularly daunting one.
Further complicating the matter is that not all languages are spoken or written in two-dimensional text. American Sign Language (ASL) remains one of the most overlooked markets in the US and abroad. Depending on which study you believe, ASL is either the fourth or fifth most used language in the United States. With such a massive audience, it is a wonder why so many companies aren’t considering ASL support as a distinct market advantage. Until very recently, the decision was a relatively simple one: ASL was difficult to support because of the visual nature of the language.
Some, however, find themselves at the forefront of a remarkable new development in the field. Starbucks, in fact, recently made waves on a number of social media platforms when a video surfaced of one of their employees taking a drive-through order via an ASL conversation delivered by the two-way video device at one location’s drive-through ordering screen. This was no small moment for Starbucks, as the video was shared more than 60,000 times in the days following, and loyalty among the Deaf and hard of hearing has been on the rise.
Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) believes that this transition is possible for anycompany, no matter what their setting or their market. As more and more companies look to gain an advantage over the competition by adapting to multilingual capabilities, there is no longer any reason to leave the 3 million people who communicate with ASL behind. CSD Direct allows those companies who are translating their knowledge bases into multiple languages to include ASL and its 3-million-strong market. It makes any great customer service rep capable of interacting with any customer who uses sign language. It reduces the cost associated with the need to hire full-time translators or multilingual staff members who also know ASL. It opens a company up to a whole new world of being able to translate insight on their products or services in any language and in any place—whether from one coast to another, from one country to another, or even at the drive-through. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.