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Speaking your customers’ languages – to negotiate and gain power

Speaking your customers’ languages - to negotiate and gain power

Nothing compares to the disappointment felt by a customer who’s interested in buying your product or service but is then greeted by a customer service professional who doesn’t speak the same language.

Whether you’re operating a service or consultancy business internationally, an ecommerce business selling products across the globe or a popular café in a tourist hotspot – the same rule applies: effective communication is critical. If you’re operating globally, or attracting customers from around the world, being able to speak the same language as those you’re working for is key.

In this blog, we’ve outlined our top tips for successfully negotiating with people who speak different languages:

1. Build in extra time

It often takes longer to digest information in a language different to your mother tongue, even if you’re competent or fluent. Reviewing a contract, for instance, can take twice as long as anticipated, since obscure concepts and terminology might need to be clarified.

When planning your negotiating schedule, you can add extra breakout sessions to let teams talk about concepts in their primary language. These private conversations may be essential for your client to comprehend the contract you’re negotiating. Give yourself more time to discuss subjects in conversation and in writing. Co-drafting can also be made simpler to follow by using whiteboards or screen sharing.

2. Watch your assumptions

When bargaining, say what you mean and mean what you say. However, bear in mind that culture and language differences may come into play. It’s always best to have confirmation that everyone understands the agreement in the same way, even if everyone at the table is nodding in accord or indicating that they concur. You’ll have the chance to regroup and identify another course of action without losing too much momentum – but only if you can ensure this throughout the negotiations (as opposed to miscommunications or misunderstandings being discovered at the approval phase of your agreement).

Make sure to have both your team and your counterparty explain the deal in their own terms to look for any discrepancies in interpretation. The contract redlines alone may not capture all the subtleties or assumptions that need to be made.

3. Be patient

Patience is essential to get excellent negotiation outcomes, all while dealing with multilingual counterparts. It’s hard to be patient when deadlines are short and time is money, but it can pay off for your organisation in the long run.

4. Understand the scope of languages needed

Analyse the languages that come into your contact centre or inbox most frequently. Are there any languages that the existing customer service team can cover – and to what capacity? 

Also, what are the most common languages not supported by your agents, but demanded by customers? The best way to get to the bottom of this is to take an in-depth look into your target market and current customer base.

Overcoming language barriers with a new solution

Palaver is a free language translation tool that offers an entirely new solution to business translation demands. Almost sounds too good to be true, don’t you think?

Helping you to communicate seamlessly in over 30 different languages, Palaver boasts:

  • Instant phone call translation – allowing you to pick up the phone and speak directly, in real-time, with your staff, prospects and customers. Once the app is installed on both devices, you can call and chat in your native tongue, while your contacts hear every word in theirs, enabling natural discussions that support the development of independent relationships.
  • Text message translation – making it simple and convenient to transmit written messages or briefs at any moment. Simply type the message in your preferred language, and they will receive it in theirs, assuring clear communication and efficient exchanges.

  • Accurate image translation – enabling you and your contacts to photograph and translate any important documents, so you fully understand everything within them.

Palaver is a free to download language translation app. By selecting from more than 30 languages, you can overcome communication hurdles, seize new business possibilities and grow your company internationally.