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Multilingual customer support: What it is + 5 tips to execute

Providing multilingual support is key to casting a wide net in the marketplace and establishing a diverse, loyal customer base.

By Hannah Wren, Staff Writer

Last updated September 13, 2023

In today’s world, businesses can easily reach consumers from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds—but not all will provide them with exceptional customer service.

Multilingual customer support is crucial to delivering personalized experiences and creating meaningful connections with individuals worldwide. This guide will cover why that’s so important and how you can best execute a multilingual customer experience (CX).

What is multilingual customer support?

Multilingual customer support refers to a business’s ability to provide the same level of customer service across multiple languages to cater to a diverse clientele.

In an increasingly digital marketplace, businesses can expect to attract consumers who prefer to converse in a language other than English. In the United States alone, residents speak over 350 languages.

If your business can only communicate in English, you’re likely not taking strides to be inclusive. This can alienate other linguistic groups that would otherwise find value in your offerings—which can cause a ripple effect that impacts your acquisition and retention goals.

By investing in multilingual customer support, you can offer assistance to individuals who are more comfortable speaking in other languages—taking your CX to the next level.

What are the benefits of multilingual customer support?

Providing support in different languages can greatly improve your acquisition and retention goals, overall CX strategy, customer service objectives, and more. Here are just a few of the benefits of multilingual customer support.

  1. Enhanced customer service experience: According to a recent study, 7 in 10 global consumers believe it’s important that brands provide a complete customer experience in their native language. Introducing a more inclusive CX can foster loyalty and create brand advocates.
  2. Improved customer retention: Nearly 70 percent of individuals would switch to a different brand that offered content, apps, or support in their native language. Therefore, multilingual businesses could attract and retain more global customers than businesses that operate in only one language.
  3. Expanded reach: Online storefronts have made it easier than ever to connect with new customers across the globe. Your business can capture new markets by offering content and support in multiple languages, your business can capture new markets.
  4. Increased revenue: A larger prospect pool leads to more qualified leads and customers, which can make a sizable difference to your balance sheet.
  5. Increased competitive advantage: Less than one-half of all brands offer multilingual support, so your business will stand out if you execute it properly.

Discover the most important trends in customer service

No matter where your customers are from, they have expectations you need to meet. Read the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2023 to discover how you can better serve customers and succeed in your CX strategy.

5 tips for developing multilingual customer support in your organization

For your organization to succeed in its multilingual support efforts, you need to focus on a few key concepts. Here are five tips for offering good customer service to a diverse customer base.

1. Utilize AI and chatbots

AI and chatbots are quickly becoming game-changers for overall CX strategies, and pairing them with translation services is a low-effort method to begin your multilingual support journey.

An AI-powered chatbot can handle customer inquiries around the clock, and one of the many benefits of this technology is translation services. In the blink of an eye, these chatbots can identify the language that a consumer is communicating with and continue the interaction in their preferred language.

From there, the bot can solve the issue for the customer or transfer them to a support agent who speaks that language. This results in a seamless—and multilingual—chain of customer service management.

2. Promote workplace diversity

A multilingual support team is only as good as its workers—and hiring from a diverse pool of applicants can give your organization a much-needed boost in inclusivity.

An inclusive work environment will allow your organization to leverage your employees’ unique skills and perspectives to deliver outstanding CX experiences.

Start by recruiting individuals proficient in different languages and who come from diverse backgrounds. From there, establish diversity training programs and allow your multicultural talent to weigh in on best practices for customer service. Building a diverse team and committing to continued training will help your organization create a multilingual support system.

3. Determine the level of support you can provide

Decide how many languages you will support and to what extent—consider factors such as your target audience and overall CX strategy.

If you have a significant presence within a particular market, you may need an in-country support team of native speakers—but this might also require outsourcing. If you’re not ready for that level of investment, a good entry point for expanded language offerings could be the AI translation services we highlighted above.

To determine the level of multilingual support you can provide, analyze your existing customer base, common customer needs, and the level of support your current customers typically require.

Additionally, consider a follow the sun model, a type of global workflow in which issues can be handled by and passed between offices in different time zones, increasing responsiveness and reducing delays. This is how LimeBike offers 24/7 multilingual support in English, Chinese, Spanish, German, Swiss, Russian, and Serbian.

4. Create cross-cultural best practices

Developing policies for effective cross-cultural communication is an important step that involves creating guidelines for interacting with different cultural groups.

Think about cultural norms and how these might impact both tone and method of communication. For example, a certain customer service voice might be suitable for English-speaking customers but inappropriate for Japanese speakers.

Other considerations that will impact international policies include communication channels, customer support pages, and the working hours of your support team—a factor that becomes more prominent when dealing with different time zones.

5. Communicate support availability

Most customers don’t expect you to offer support across all channels, hours, and languages. Still, to avoid frustration, manage consumer expectations by proactively communicating your availability.

When serving customers who speak different languages, consider they may be on a different schedule. They could be in another time zone or continent and want to reach out to your business when your support team is no longer on the clock.

Clearly state your customer service hours to ensure you set customers’ expectations, no matter where they are located.

The most important channels to provide multilingual customer service

With multilingual support, businesses must communicate with customers in various languages through different channels. Here are the most important mediums and customer service tips to leverage.


Emails are one of the most powerful tools for marketing and customer-oriented initiatives. With multilingual emails, you can expand your reach and make a difference with your customer base.

Start with multilingual email templates—from there, clearly display language options, utilize translation tools, and lean on your diverse support team to deliver on multicultural best practices. Email is an important communication method, so make sure your multilingual clients are in your address book.

Example: Squarespace offers multilingual email support in English, Spanish, French, and German (with more languages on the way).

Help center

Many consumers want the ability to solve basic problems and find answers independently without waiting on a representative. This is why your business must provide multilingual options for your help center, knowledge base, or FAQ page. It’s also wise to create video content in different languages or add translated subtitles.

Offering self-service content in various languages not only improves CX but also reduces the number of support tickets, freeing up your agents to focus on other tasks.

Example: Adobe has multiple language options for its help center—including Spanish and French—so individuals around the world can find resources in their preferred language.

Social media

No matter your chosen platform, social media enables you to reach prospects across the globe. Optimize your profiles in a way that helps you form connections with customers located in other regions.

A simple way to execute this is to create different accounts for specific customer segments. That way, you alert consumers to relevant information and communicate with them in their native language.

Example: With the help of Zendesk, Stanley Black and Decker supports customers in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, and more. The company has separate Facebook pages for each language, which it integrates into Zendesk, creating tickets from messages sent via Facebook Messenger to ensure that all customer concerns are captured and accounted for in the support process.

Phone calls

Oftentimes, customers want to speak with a representative on the phone, especially if they have a complex or urgent issue. Ensure you can accommodate all customers by having a call center staffed by multilingual support agents.

This goes hand-in-hand with our tip above on promoting workplace diversity. If you employ a multicultural workforce, it will be easier to provide a fantastic multilingual CX, as these agents understand the customs of different cultures. This, in turn, can reduce instances of bad customer service and help your team better serve your customers.

Example: Chase Bank’s call center offers support in multiple languages, including Spanish, so customers can speak with representatives in their native language

Get started with multilingual customer support today

Developing a multilingual customer support structure is crucial to expanding your global reach and providing outstanding, inclusive customer experiences.

Hiring a diverse staff, communicating your customer service hours, and establishing best practices can aid your efforts, but you don’t need to embark on the journey alone. Enlist the help of customer service software—like Zendesk—to revolutionize your CX across the cultural groups your business serves.

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