Responding to Emails in Another Language

How does your organisation respond to emails written in different languages?


A bilingual employee is generally the best way to respond to customer e-mail in a foreign language, however, the position may be difficult to staff or an inefficient use of resources due to a low volume of requests.

Professional email translation may help you respond to non-English emails, but it often requires a 1-3 day turnaround time which may not meet the customers’ expectations. Further, a minimum project spend requirement could make translation of individual e-mails cost prohibitive.

As an alternative, the following strategy for non-English emails may help you save time and money while meeting customer expectations:

Step 1: Save Time with Email Templates

Which trends do you observe in customers’ non-English emails?

Create professionally translated email templates for common responses to typical customer questions. Eliminate the need to translate a response for every incoming email.

Once you implement professionally translated email templates, assess how they meet customer needs. If non-English customers still seek assistance after receiving your template response, re-evaluate which information you need to include in the template.

Step 2: Attempt to Establish Customer Intent Through Machine Translation

How would you know which translated email template to send as your response?

A machine translation  (e.g. Google Translate) may not capture the full intent of non-English emails, but it may help you at least establish the gist. Select the appropriate email template response once you have inferred the non-English email’s intent.

Machine translation may not always return an intelligible result, for which case you might prepare a standard response, directing their inquiry to your telephone support service.

Remember, machine translation may not be the best option if you handle sensitive information. These translators often store what you enter into them and do not guarantee the privacy of your data.

Step 3: Provide a Telephone Interpreting Service  

Translated email templates may increase your first contact resolution (FCR), but customers who prefer a foreign language may still contact you if your email did not meet their needs.

At the end of your email templates, instruct your customers to phone you if your email did not address their needs. You can direct these calls to your call centre and address customer questions through telephone interpreting, advising in the email that “a telephonic interpreter will be provided at no cost to you.”

For more tips on improving your multilingual support strategy, schedule a Q & A session with us today.

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