Localizing Customer Journeys — Part 2

Dec 10, 2019

Let’s keep walking through some key stages of customer journeys that must be localized effectively to ensure effective and immersive experiences at all times.

The Decision-Making Stage

After finding, comparing and sharing the needed information about products or services, local customers should be ready to make up their mind prior to moving to the purchase stage or stopping their journey. Although this stage is a short moment in time, it is often the most sensitive turning point in any selling process and therefore requires much attention from content creators and localizers.

Words are more than written or spoken words, as they trigger different reactions in different contexts. In the decision-making stage, there is no room for misleading or offending messages, no matter if they are linguistically or culturally inappropriate. For example, a major international banking institution launched a campaign a few years ago to convince new and existing customers to invest in funds where they could put their savings safely for a long time. In order to nail down that selling point, the marketing team decided to use the image of a pig (the representation of this animal is often used to collect coins and notes in a number of countries). The marketers wanted to convey the message of savings. However, it was not positively perceived and received in some parts of the world, including the Middle East, where pigs are considered impure animals for historical or religious reasons. As a result, a number of local customers felt that customer journeys had been designed by and for the Western part of the world, as the picture of the pig was neither replaced nor removed. Even worse, some customers were offended by a communication that was clearly hurting their beliefs and values. The lack of effective localization took its toll and led to expensive corrective measures.

Also, you should bear in mind that decision makers might not be the actual users of products and services they choose at the end of the day. So localizing content has to cover the point of view of both decision makers and end users in order to remain on the safe side. This matters especially in markets or environments (B2B or B2C) showing separate roles between influencers and buyers during that decision-making phase. You can find out about this distinction in local market data and insights.

The Purchase Stage

As this stage is mostly transactional and operational, you should ensure that your localization team focuses on functional effectiveness in addition to linguistic and cultural relevance. Obviously, customers do not buy, pay for, and get products and services in the same way across international markets. Therefore, you have to include their preferred payment options that are personally convenient and legally available within their market. For instance, paying by credit card is less usual for German customers than for Swedish customers. It is tied to local payment practices and behaviors that may turn out to be quite different even in a region like Europe.

You should always make local customers comfortable during financial transations. You should not replicate payment options that may not be working functionally, like some e-wallets, or be too controversial, like using cryptocurrencies without due diligence. Equally important are the delivery options that local customers could or should consider. Your product and marketing content localizers have to list and detail how these customers get their purchased products and services which is crucial during "phygital" customer journeys. Payment and delivery details must be mentioned in the overall terms and conditions and be compliant with local and international regulations.

The Retention Stage

You want to maintain a strong relationship with your local customers after their initial purchase(s) and keep building it over time for more selling opportunities. That is why you should offer locally trust-building and value-adding assets proactively. Training and assistance features are great ways of keeping customer journeys going on the right track. Here again you have to localize such content effectively to avoid breaking local experiences. Bear in mind that self-training and e-learning modules are time- and cost-effective features to engage with local customers while they use products and services provided that they consider them intuitive and actionable. So you have to deploy such modules not only in localized versions, but also at scale.

In some markets like China, remote training and learning sessions are less effective, as people are more used to direct and personal interactions. Such content implies localizing various types of textual, visual, and audio content. You have to balance content requirements with local standards; for instance, when it comes to subtitling videos vs. dubbing them, keeping voiceover, changing background music, or modifying the duration of modules. Your content designers and developers have to work closely with localizers to produce original content that is flexible, scalable, and clusterable to optimize subsequent localization costs and cycle times.

Providing unassisted support is another popular path to maintaining and enhancing local customer relationships. Moreover, it may enable you to support them faster if you have limited or no resources in local markets you target. Unassisted support features should be localized like communication channels rather than like mere self-service areas. While local customers expect to find topics and details on how to use products and services, they also see unassisted support as your virtual helping hand to them. So this content should be localized in a well-structured and personal fashion. For example, frequently asked questions are localized with the tone that is most culturally appropriate in the country where they are published. In addition to going the extra mile for local customer journeys, localized self-training and unassisted support empower you to make these journeys more circular by providing you with useful feedback and metrics for continuous improvement and mutual understanding.