Here, we'll talk about the importance of speaking your customers' language and how to implement multiple languages on your Zendesk.
Zendesk itself is based in the U.S. and while most of our customers speak English, we do have a significant and growing population of non-English-speaking customers. Some of the largest and fastest growing are Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries. To support them better, we have an Argentina-based support agent - Eugenia Jongewaard - who offers support in Spanish.
I spoke with Eugenia recently about the Spanish-speaking Zendesk community, and whether there are any differences between supporting people in English and in Spanish (she also speaks fluent English).
How many Spanish-speaking customers did Zendesk have when you started?
We had about 12 customers, and that included our Brazilian customers [who speak Portuguese].
How many does Zendesk have now?
Currently we have more than 100 customers and this increases every day.
Which Spanish speaking countries use Zendesk? Which country has the most Zendesk customers?
Our top 5 Spanish-speaking countries are Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador. But Spain and Brazil are the majority of our Spanish/Portuguese customers.
Is the customer service philosophy and/or practices in those countries different from the U.S.? What does customer service mean in Spanish-speaking communities?
In Latin America people still have patience when it comes to customer service. They can be on the phone for hours and think, "Well, that's just how things are." And everything here works like that!
Smaller companies here don't use the internet much when it comes to customer service; they don't use social media or email much often. This means that consumers don't use email to contact customer service as much because in a lot of cases they won't receive a quick answer.
So I think that Zendesk is at the beginning of this in Latin American countries - helping smaller companies integrate web-based customer service and support - and if we can make that difference with how we ourselves communicate, then our customers will notice.
Customer service is not as trained here, there are not rules; often a company will only care about 'customer service' when they have big problems with a customer. Latin American companies need to know the importance of proactive customer service and that the sale doesn't end when the customer buys the product.
Are customers surprised when you interact with them in Spanish? Do they expect English?
They expect English because all of Zendesk's signup materials are in English. They are very surprised when I send them a personalized welcome email in Spanish. They really appreciate this, especially when I call them to see if they have questions or need help setting up their Zendesk.
What are some of the ways Zendesk is attempting to grow in the Spanish-speaking markets? How does Zendesk reach out to Spanish speakers?
Most customer find us through Google, blogs, or a friend's recommendation. This last one is the most influential. And when they sign up, we keep in contact with them through Spanish Speaking groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.
We will be also starting to share more Spanish training videos about Zendesk [see below for a Spanish Zendesk Overview]. We hope in the future to do the same for our Portuguese community which is a very participative group; and interested in good customer service.
Explain a little about your blog "Mi Help Desk"? What are you doing there?
Mihelpdesk.com is the Spanish blog where we share all about customer service, social media and communication. It's also the place for Spanish speaking Zendesk customers to share their experience and ideas. I have interviewed two big Zendesk customers, Locaweb -- they are actually from Brazil -- and Juan N. Corpas, a university in Colombia. They are really happy with Zendesk and were really exited to share their story on the blog.
Zendesk Spanish Language Resources
As mentioned in the interview