Support Documentation: Job #1 for Localization?

Support Documentation: Job #1 for Localization?
Dimitris Glezos
November 2, 2015
4 min read

You’re a software or mobile app provider and you’re thinking about developing localized content to enter international markets for the first time. That’s great! But which pieces of content do you start with? Oftentimes, the task of translating support documentation seems like it would be far down the priority list, well behind translating your marketing website or product interface. The thing is, that prioritization could be totally wrong. Localizing your support materials might be the most important information to translate as a first step to cement your global growth.

Does this seem counterintuitive? Let’s look at some data and examples to understand why this just might make sense for your business.

The Case for Making Support Documentation Top Priority for Localization

First, let me share an anecdote I heard recently at a localization conference I attended. Another attendee from a large, well-known software provider* shared her company’s experience with the decision process for initiating localization projects. (*I was not able to make personal contact with this attendee, nor did she provide blanket permission to share her story officially, so I am omitting the company identification, but trust me, you’ve heard of them.)

Her company had not localized the user interface to one of its key products, only offering it in English. A few years ago, when the company started thinking about whether to localize the product and for what markets, they dug into the details around their users’ experience, and they realized they already had a large base of international users. Their product was powerful enough and their interface simple enough that many non-English speakers were adopting it despite its lack of a locale-specific interface.

But that’s where the good news ended. The company also realized they had a customer support issue on their hands. Multiple international users’ forums had sprung up online to answer questions from the users who had no way to get adequate support directly from the company. That meant users were depending on the quality delivered by other users who spoke their language, rather than the official, vetted documentation from the company itself. So that’s where all the company’s localization efforts began — with customer support materials.

We see a similar prioritization in the results of our 2014 Localization Benchmark survey. Among the organizations surveyed (all of whom are at least thinking about localization) the content that rated as the second highest priority for localization was Documentation / Knowledge Bases. This prioritization is also consistent with the finding that the number one benefit of localizing is delivering a better user experience, noted by 51% of respondents.

Customer Service — A Critical Element of the Customer Experience

It’s important not to lose sight of customer service’s strategic importance to your business. According to the 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, 68% of US consumers stopped doing business with a brand due to poor customer service. Selling excellent products to customers at the right price through their preferred channel isn’t enough in and of itself to create a robust customer experience with your brand. How you provide customer service must be top of mind to fully satisfy customers because in today’s competitive landscape, it’s not about not meeting, but exceeding customer expectations.

This same study also reports that 90% of consumers surveyed globally expect companies to have an online self-service support portal or FAQ. So if you’re planning on delivering an exceptional online experience for customers around the world, you must have the support aspects of your business ready from the start. Providing online support through localized content is no longer an option, but a must.

Preparing for Localization Before You Begin

In much the same way that customer service design is now an integral part of the go-to-market strategy, planning for localization can no longer be an afterthought. A product development approach that anticipates localization tasks smooths the process when you are ready to go global. If you’ve already implemented a solution like the one from Zendesk that helps your U.S. customers help themselves, you can easily leverage that solution internationally via the Transifex Sync Zendesk App, easing the process of meeting customers’ high expectations in each market that you enter.

If you’re interested in seeing how the Transifex Sync Zendesk App works, schedule a personalized demo with one of our team members, and you’ll be one important step closer to achieving your global growth objectives!

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Dimitris Glezos
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