Globalizing CRM by Speaking Your Customers' Language

Updated: July 02, 2009

Are there ways to leverage technology to get around this? There are, and one of them owes its existence to the war in Afghanistan. After the fall of the Taliban in 2002, the U.S. military brought back a lot of documents in Arabic - "a boxcar full of them," according to Mark Tapling, president and CEO of Language Weaver. A request for a proposal was issued for technology to help in translating this material; Tapling and his team built a statistical engine that could perform source-to-target translation from Arabic into English, thus creating the platform that became Language Weaver.

The product now is an on-demand translation system that had 72 different targeted combinations of languages. The software can be "trained," not just for the ideosyncracies of particular languages but also for specific industries, ensuring that even jargon can survive the translation process. Since it's on-demand, Language Weaver is responsible for the computing power needed to complete translations, not individual users.

The need for this technology, Tapling said, is borne out by the numbers. "There are about 350,000 professional translators in the world, working in all languages," he said. "They average about 2000 words translated per day, at an average cost of 21 cents per word. That means there are not enough people and too many documents for translation to be performed in every case it's needed, let alone in an economical fashion." Language Weaver can translate as many as 100,000 words in a minute, he said.

How does this have value for CRM? Tapling cited a travel site that had dozens of articles about destinations and things to do - in English. If you clicked the "French" button, you were treated to the three articles the company could afford to have translated into French. "That's a great way to cause instant offense in your customers," Tapling said.

Another application is in customer service. Intel, for example, has many pages of FAQs that help its customers integrate and employ its products, and it says it provides support in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Brazilian Portuguese. But the cost of translation was such that only about 10 percent of the FAQs could be translated - leading to frustrated customers. "That was a violation of brand trust," Tapling said. With the Language Weaver applications, Intel was able to translate more of its FAQs and was able to help reduce service calls in non-English speaking territories as a result.

Featured Research
  • 12 Must-Have CRM Features

    Having a CRM is absolutely essential to any modern day business's success. In fact, 91% of companies with 11+ employees now utilize a CRM solution in their business. When making the decision to purchase or upgrade your CRM solution, it can be quite overwhelming determining which features are essential to your success versus those that pack more fluff than punch. more

  • Making the Case for a New CRM

    Did you know that having an outdated CRM is just as bad as not having one at all? Do you find yourself working even just a little too hard to make your current CRM work to maintain your contacts and relationships? While it is increasingly more difficult to reduce customer churn, modern CRM tools are much more powerful and provide much more opportunity to develop stronger relationships with your clients that can provide more stability and revenue to your company and bottom line. more

  • Don't Make These 10 CRM Mistakes

    Finding and buying a CRM is exciting. It is also quite daunting as you want to be as prepared as possible so as to avoid making a costly mistake. We have seen that many businesses fail when implementing a CRM, as they repeatedly make the same errors over and over again. more

  • The 2017 CRM Comparison Guide: Q2 Edition

    If you’re in the market for CRM software, we’ve got good news. We’ve updated our CRM comparison guide for Q2. more

  • Are You Using These 8 CRM Features?

    One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make when it comes to their CRM software is the features they don’t use. This happens because they invest in CRM with a handful of problems in mind, so they’re content as long as it solves them. But if you want to maximize your ROI, you should be utilizing every feature available to you. more