Website translations involve more than just agreeing a price with a translator. There are lots of details involved in creating an effective localized website. If you can get your website translation right first time, you’ll save hassle and money later on. One important issue is how to provide contact details that will encourage customers in different countries to get in touch with you.
This article is part of a series. If you’re planning to translate your website, don’t miss “Multilingual Websites: Single or Multiple Domains?“. But today we’re going to think about your contact page. How can you combine your company’s needs and your international clients’ needs?
Fear of the foreign
Website translations are intended to increase business from foreign countries. So, the goal would be for a foreign person to make contact or buy something. But the idea of having to speak to someone in a foreign language terrifies many business owners.
Even competent second-language speakers tend to be nervous about phone calls. Why? They might not understand what the other person says. They’ll feel silly and awkward. Pride is at stake.Fear of the foreign? Useful tips on the perfect contact page for your translated website. #xl8 Click To Tweet
Emails are less intimidating. But writing that sounds foreign can generate distrust. You may feel unsure about the trustworthiness of the customer who gets in touch with you. Or your grammatical mistakes could scare the potential customer away.
Firstly, remember that fear is irrational. The more times you make contact in your second language, the easier it gets. Don’t procrastinate, pick up the phone or send that email. What’s going to be will be, and the results could be profitable.
Of course, miscommunications can cause problems. If the sale is worth a lot of money, it’s definitely worth investing in a professional translator. We make sure that everyone understands each other, a valuable asset.
You don’t want a customer that’s trying to contact you to give up because they can’t fill in all your boxes.
Making sure the customer doesn’t feel nervous
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Consider how you’d feel about contacting a foreign company. You’d be wondering whether they could speak your language. Things may work differently to what you’re used to. Will they take advantage of you being in different countries to try to cheat you?
When thinking about how you present your contact details on your website, keep that in mind. You can present the information in a way that reassures your customers, as I’ll explain below. This reassurance will help generate trust, which will encourage them to get in touch with you.
Highlight language capabilities
The foreign-language version of your website doesn’t have to be identical to the original. For instance, on the foreign version of your contact page, you could emphasise that you speak the language. Perhaps invite potential clients to get in touch with you in that language. It’s little details like this that can make a hesitant person decide to give you their email or phone number.
Decisions to make for the contact page in website translations
Postal address for international letters/shipments
Addresses are written differently depending on the country. To illustrate: the Spanish address “calle Playa, 6” would literally translate to “street Beach, 6”. The UK equivalent would be “6 Beach Street”.
Never try to translate your address. Show it in a way that the customer could use it to address a letter to you and that letter would reach your company. Otherwise, it’s useless.
Companies sometimes create standard contact forms. These tend to be based on the way an address is written in, say, Spain. This is useless for, say, a UK audience. Because the address format doesn’t fit in the form. It puts the potential customer off.
Try to produce looser forms, with fewer required fields, for use by people in foreign countries.
Email address for international customers
SMEs will often run all their emails from a single central account.
You could have a “.co.uk” email address published on the English version of your site. Then publish a “.es” version on the Spanish site. But route all emails to a single inbox.
You then set up your email client so that when you write back, you can choose to respond from the “co.uk” or the “.es” domain. One reason to use country domains is because the customer will recognise them. This generates trust.
There’s more about this in that article I mentioned above about single or multiple domains.Need to translate your contact page? Read this before you order the translation. #t9nWebsite Translations: the Perfect Contact Us Page Click To Tweet
Telephone number for international calls
The standard way to write your phone number for international calls is a plus sign, followed by your country code, followed by your phone number. In the UK, when you make a national call, the number starts with a zero. You have to remove that zero for international calls. So, for the UK, you’d write a London number like this: +44 20 7946 0646.
Landline numbers and mobile phone numbers are different in each country. In the UK, you can recognise a mobile because it starts “07”. But in Spain, for instance, a mobile number starts with a “6”. No zero is required, so a Spanish mobile number might be +34 623 123 123. Because call costs may vary, it’s worth highlighting whether the number is a landline or mobile.
The phone numbers can look so different that the buyer may be unsure whether the phone number is correct. Assume your potential customer doesn’t know these things and walk them through it. That way they’ll feel more relaxed and think your company is helpful.
The more times you make contact in your second language, the easier it gets.
More useful pointers to help you translate your contact page
Avoid confusion with personal identity numbers
The national identity document doesn’t exist in the UK. Many people have a passport, but they don’t know the number by heart or expect anyone to ask for it. If you’re translating your website to target a UK audience, don’t make the national identity number a required field on contact forms. You don’t want a customer that’s trying to contact you to give up because they can’t fill in all your boxes.
Be aware that opening hours vary in different countries
Consider the opening hours the potential customer will expect. UK buyers won’t expect anyone to be in the office after 5:30pm. But Spanish buyers may find it inconvenient if no one responds to them when it’s only 6:30pm.
If no one picks up the phone in Spain at 2:30pm because of a two-hour lunch break, British clients won’t like it. Equally, a UK company trying to sell in Spain may get poor responses if it calls people on their mobiles at 3:00pm, during lunch.
It’s worth including your opening times on the contact page, to control expectations.
Generating trust by showing that you have a registered limited-liability company
The format for a limited company will be different in different countries. In Spain, the initials “SL” generate trust by telling the client the company is a registered limited company. So, it’s the equivalent of “Ltd” in the UK.
Consider that your average buyer in another country may not be familiar with the initials. So, in the translation, it may be worth adding a note to highlight that your company is registered. You could also include your registration details.
VAT number on the contact us page
With website translations, you have to think in international terms regarding your VAT number. If you’re dealing within Europe, then potential buyers will want to know if you’re VIES registered. So if you give your VAT number on your website, then give your VIES VAT number, with the country code before it.
An image is worth a thousand words
I don’t want to do myself out of business, but you may want to consider international icons instead of words. Examples include an “@” sign for the email, or a little mobile phone and landline phone. This will reduce the amount of translation needed for your contact page.
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