eStrategy: Going Multilingual

I remember trying to fill forms in India - a country with 14 major languages. No, these are not dialects or minor variations. These are 14 different languages.

The multipage forms, were in three different languages: English, the unofficial standard; Hindi the official language and the language of the state you were in. This compounded the joy of deciphering a poorly printed form using, well, the hallmark lack of clarity of government created anything.

America, is facing some of these issues. Increasingly, we will have the pleasure of filling out multi-page forms and an already incompetent government will charge more and deliver even less. Printing and paper do cost money. Not to mention the duplicate customer service help required.

Corporations are faced with a similar issue as highlighted by this article. Do you create a multilingual website?

Yes, is the short answer. Customers, not your personal opinions, drive business capability. If 20% of the population understands and prefers interaction in Spanish, then you'd better listen.

No, do not create a multi-lingual site. Create a different experience for each of your significant customer segments. The message is clear: do not pretend to speak Spanish or any other language for that matter; understand and interact with Spanish speaking people. Also understand that there are cultural differences between "Spanish speaking people." For all the lip service to diversity, our country has a long way to go in understanding that 1.25 billion Muslims do not all think and act the same. All 1 Billion Indians do not eat "curry". The 1 Billion plus Hindus pick and chose from 840,000 gods to worship. The 1 billion Chinese do not all look alike or speak the same language or have the same cuisine or the same religion...

Is language a significant customer segmentation parameter? Maybe. Before you jump in, do some research. Try something radical, say, asking your customer?

We are told that the world is flat. Well, it is time our strategy reflected that.

Read the article>>

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Posted on 06/04/2009 by

eStrategy: Going Multilingual author sourabhhajela



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