Business communication is a complex subject, covering communications with customers, employees and other businesses—with each of these directions including a number of topics that could be separate university courses. Communication affects everything important for a business, from customer loyalty to costs of production.
For businesses striving to go global, communications can become an even bigger challenge because of cultural differences and linguistic barriers. Managing multinational teams and approaching foreign markets may cost an overwhelming amount of time and money, but I’ve found that this burden can be reduced, thanks to machine learning and artificial intelligence.
The Rise Of AI Tools
A recent McKinsey survey states that half of its respondents from a variety of industries have adopted AI to serve at least one function in their company, and it has increased the revenue. Businesses use AI for inventory, sales forecasting, pricing optimization and other purposes, including the ones involving language and communication skills like marketing and customer support.
I am the co-founder of a communications app that uses AI for translating audio and video calls and chat messaging, and I’ve seen that many international businesses already use AI to help with translation. Before the introduction of AI translators, the primary ways to conduct negotiations and meetings where participants spoke two or more languages was to hire live translators or simply hope that everyone had a decent enough knowledge of one language.
Engaging third parties can lead to additional expenses and time commitments, while lack of command of the language among employees in multilingual teams can cause misunderstandings and miscommunications. A study by the Economist shows that poor communication causes delay or failure to complete projects for 44% of the respondents, and 18% of respondents acknowledged that due to communication problems, they lost sales.
Language barrier difficulties are already being successfully tackled by AI translators. Recent breakthroughs in the field of machine learning have helped translation evolve by leaps and bounds. For instance, researchers studied the impact of the introduction of eBay’s AI machine translation for product listing titles and concluded that the tool had expanded the international trade on eBay by 10.9%.
How AI Translators Can Assist International Businesses
AI translators are now reaching far beyond what we are used to expecting from online translation tools. They are capable to work with the scriptory text, like chat messages or comments in social media, along with solutions like my own company, YOUS, and others that offer instant translation during audio and video calls. Let’s look at some of the additional benefits:
• Cut expenses: Businesses can avoid hiring third-party translators or rush to add new staff to the customer support team when using AI solutions. Moreover, customer support may be carried out 24 hours a day, seven days a week by using AI chatbots that can learn new languages at lightning speed.
• Boost productivity: When employees don’t need to comb through documents and meetings in languages they don’t understand, they’ll be able to put effort into more meaningful and complex things. Additionally, smoother communication (with fewer misunderstandings) can help employees feel more comfortable when talking with colleagues from other countries, and such effects can positively affect work.
• Increase customer loyalty and sales: Creating multilingual marketing campaigns and international customer support becomes easier with AI translators. Speaking the language of every segment of your audience, no matter how small it is, is important. CSA Research shows that 65% of customers prefer content in their native language and 40% won’t buy a product from a website in another language.
• Share knowledge: Employees from all over the world can more easily share knowledge and best practices if they don’t have language barriers. Additionally, they’ll be more free in choosing external educational opportunities. Better professional awareness makes better employees.
The implementation of machine translation into business is already taking place at many companies. If you are thinking of implementing AI translation into your business, don’t hesitate to try it. But “try” is the key word: Ask for a trial period before paying for any solution. I also suggest to look for a solution with experience in your field. I’ve found that it’s better if the AI solution is trained to translate for a particular industry because of the specific terminology.
If you want to get started with translation technology for customer support, consider using multilingual chatbots, like IBM Watson Assistant, Unbabel or Haptik. Multilingual chatbots are trained to understand a customer’s intent, ask questions to clarify the situation and offer solutions (if the situation doesn’t require help from a human) in a number of languages.
When it comes to writing emails and preparing documents for internal communications, utilizing seemingly simple text translators, similar to Google Translate or Apple’s Translate app, can be effective. These tools can also help you to localize social media content for things as simple as creating subtitles for a video. For sharing multilingual content, you can also consider multilingual dubbing that works with voice synthesis technology; startups like Deepdub and Papercup are making significant progress in this space.
Remember that any public and legal texts still require supervision. The truth is, AI translation can’t work alone perfectly; you’ll still need assistance from an editor who is proficient in the target language—so you’ll still need some human employees.
We live in the time when entrepreneurs can start small and soon go global. Doing business worldwide is more possible than ever with AI, and I believe the wise thing to do is to learn more about the prospects this technology creates.