In our globalised market, it comes as no surprise when two companies from different countries enter into a business deal or a long-term collaboration. Numerous international corporations and companies invest or enter into foreign markets offering their products or services. Social media facilitate international transactions by allowing businesses to develop networks of contacts, to interact with them and maintain business relationships. In this business model, correspondence plays a crucial part and needs to be conducted in the most effective and business-friendly way.
When it comes to the language of dozens of e-mails, letters and documentation you are going to exchange, it is usually a no-brainer, as most often than not, they are written in English – the lingua franca of international business – especially when one of the companies is based in an English-speaking country. What needs to be borne in mind, though, is that it will be of huge benefit to your business if you correspond with your client in their language. Why? There are a few sound reasons for that and I will describe them one by one.
1. Going that extra mile is always worth it.
We all appreciate when someone is going an extra mile for us, whether it is improved service or doing something extra for the same price. Don’t you feel special when in a hair salon, the stylist not only washes your hair but also gives you a heavenly head massage? Or don’t you like it when a garage assistant washes your car windows while you are filling up your fuel tank? This kind of extra service makes us feel exceptional and this is why, as customers, we often come back to feel like that again.
Writing to a foreign company in their mother tongue is exactly going that extra mile and says much more than thousands of words about your great customer service. The client has a perfect example of how you care about them just by seeing your e-mail or letter in their language. There is absolutely no chance this will get unnoticed or unappreciated. After all, your business correspondence will not be read by a company as an organisation but by a human being who will certainly feel special and will definitely be ready to go that extra mile for you. So go on, show that superb customer care!
2. Adapting communication to the recipient is part of the good business etiquette.
Sending correspondence translated into the first language of the recipient shows respect towards the other person and the respect will certainly be reciprocal. The effect is very similar to going an extra mile for someone. It is common practice to adapt the style and tone of your letter depending on who you are writing to. Think about what phrase you use at the end of each e-mail: when writing to a long-term business partner, you’ll probably say ‘Best regards’ but in an e-mail to a president of an international trade organisation, you’d most likely use the traditional ‘Yours sincerely’.
If you adapt your correspondence to the recipient, why not go all the way and also adjust the language?
3. The language barrier.
Despite the fact that the managers and directors of foreign companies are fluent in English, there is always a risk that something might be misinterpreted or not understood at all. This especially pertains to the business jargon or idiomatic expressions that are difficult for foreign language speakers. In business, there is no room for misunderstandings so you don’t want to allow for even a minimal risk of not being well understood, do you.
Having your correspondence translated by a professional linguist will automatically eliminate the risk of confusing anyone with specialist or obscure terminology and jargon. Sending a letter translated into the mother tongue of the addressee will guarantee that your message will be fully conveyed and understood by the recipient. This in turn will save you time and money, as the communication will be smooth, efficient and free of errors.
4. Customers are more likely to buy in their mother tongue.
No matter if it is a business or non-business client, people are much more prone to buy in their first language. First of all, they feel more at ease, and therefore they trust the seller who ‘speaks their mother tongue’. This is also true in the case of websites; 72% of consumers buy from websites only if it is in their first language. So if you intend to sell your product or services to the recipient of your offer, you shouldn’t think twice on the language you will use.
In the current market, when times are tough, clients demanding and competition fierce, it is worth showing your clients that you respect and care for them. Sending correspondence in your client’s mother tongue will not only show that you are ready to go an extra mile for them but it will also eliminate any risk of misunderstanding which could put the deal in jeopardy. It is crucial, however, to have your correspondence translated by a professional translator, and not by one of your employees who just happens to speak this language because only then will you be sure that your message will be accurately conveyed and fully understood.