The numbers are all in favor of providing live chat: it not only contributes positively to lead conversion but also increases existing customer satisfaction. But how do these apps fare when it comes to supporting multilingual websites? After all, the support chat cannot afford to be the disruptor in the in-language user experience.
We surveyed 16 live chat solution providers for ways in which they support multilingual websites:
- The number of languages the chat app is translated in. This includes both the customer-facing widget as well as the admin dashboard and interface visible to the support agents using the app. The numbers don’t match all the time. That is, sometimes there was better support on the customer-facing side than on the admin side.
- API access for translation. Sometimes, when the app provider itself doesn’t translate the interface, it provides API access to make localization easy for the buyer’s developers.
- Whether machine translation (MT) support exists.
This is a burgeoning market and we are aware that there are more companies out there that haven’t found mention here. This study shows the general trends prevalent in this sector:
|#||App name||# of languages supported by interface||API access for translation||Whether machine translation (MT) support exists||Comments|
|Not known||Not known||The language setting is global, meaning the language selected will be seen by every agent attached to the account.|
|2||ClickDesk||35||Not known||Yes||Its interface supports only one language at a time.|
9 (including both UK and US English)
|Not known||Not known||Provides a premium downloadable module for translations.|
|6||Live Guide||10||Not known||Not known|
|7||LiveHelpNow||Not known||Not known||Not known|
|8||Olark||Multiple languages supported||Yes||Yes|
|9||Pure Chat||Multiple languages supported||Not known||Not known||The dashboard is available only in English, but the widget can be translated.|
|10||SnapEngage||30||No||Yes||Though the widget is translated in 30 languages, the admin dashboard is available only in five.|
|12||Visitlead||Multiple languages supported||Not known||Not known|
|13||WebsiteAlive||Multiple languages supported||Not known||Not known||The dashboard is available only in English, but the widget can be translated.|
|15||Zoho Chat||Not known||Not known||Not known|
|16||Zopim||55||Not known||Yes||Zopim had crowdsourced translation of its app, but it shut the project down and is carrying out translation in-house.|
So, which solution is global-friendly?
Half of the companies we studied provide localized versions of their product, and at least one offered API access for localization. By itself, this number shows a promising interest in localization, but the widget translation is just half the story. What happens to the chat itself?
Many companies suggest using MT (read: Google Translate) for real-time translation. It is here that we have a few words of advice to share with companies buying these solutions:
- Integrate with paid and trained MT engines. We were taken aback to see one chat provider lauding the quality of Google Translate. If you’re using free MT to woo prospects and engage customers, the results can be disastrous. The ideal way to provide in-language customer support is to provide access to support staff who speak the language. If that proves to be expensive, consider integrating with paid MT tool providers. Your chat app should be able to support such integration.
You can also work with translation companies that deliver the whole MT package to you. This way you can deploy a customized real-time translation solution for your live chat application. Rest assured, the quality will be much higher than it would be with a generic MT engine, and so is more suitable in your professional business setup.
- Use MT as a backup. SnapEngage provides MT as a backup while transferring the chat to an agent who speaks the language. This is a smart use of MT. It can also be used as a fallback for rare language pairs or languages from which you don’t get that many queries.
- Know the risks of free MT. Apart from huge quality compromises, free MT engines do not promise any confidentiality of the data that passes through their engine. Of course, people using live chats may not exchange sensitive information, but you never know. Also, it might get you into trouble if the law of the land is strict when it comes to data security.
- Always look for a provider that has translated its website. This is usually a good indicator of whether the company understands the importance of international business and how it caters to it. Companies that care about international revenue will stay committed to localization. Fewer than half the companies we surveyed had language options present on their website, indicating that they are perhaps focused more on domestic customers than global.
After taking the pains to localize your website, don’t undermine your efforts by installing a chat app that doesn’t support your customers’ languages. As you pay attention to the other features the app provides, keep support for localization in mind. The chat could well be the first direct interaction that prospects have with you — don’t let it be the last.