How to respond to complaints from overseas clients

Don’t let the language barrier affect your relationships with foreign markets


GearTranslations Internationalization Content marketing Translation SMBs


As we’ve mentioned previously, it’s important that businesses who seek internationalisation, to treat their international consumers like they would their consumers in the domestic market. Many companies unintentionally neglect their overseas clients post-sale due to the time and effort required to generate multilingual content in order to follow up on communications. Many tend to focus their attention to acquiring new international leads rather than nurturing existing overseas clients.

Operating in a foreign market makes effective communication difficult, there is no doubt about it, but with translations, you have everything you need to keep in contact with overseas clients. So what happens when a complaint from an overseas client takes you by surprise?

The first thing to do would be not to reply straight away, especially if it is in a foreign language and you do not have a multilingual customer service team in place to contact that overseas client. Remember that the professionalism of your business and its service in a foreign market are in question and your response should reflect the voice of your company at a global level.

Rushing a response means that translation errors are more likely. Keep in contact with professional translators, ideally those who work with a collaborative translation platform. When an overseas client makes a complaint, it’s important that it is dealt with as soon as possible. By sending your response to a professional translator, they can translate the content quickly so that you can contact the customer in a timely-fashion. Remember, the longer the issue is left unresolved then the more likely it is that the relationship will not be salvaged, thus losing out on the possibility of repeat purchases from that overseas client.

Resolving issues on social media pages

Many businesses receive bad reviews from online users on their social media pages and don’t know the necessary steps to take. It’s easy to forget about negative comments from overseas clients on your social media pages, but silence is portrayed as weakness.

Don’t let the language barrier stop you from communicating with unhappy overseas clients! The issue has to addressed quickly to solve the problem and encourage them to repeat purchase in the future. Negative comments on your social media page are enough to put off new international consumers from purchasing too.

Larger companies that operate at a global level have multilingual social media teamswho speak the native language of every foreign market they have social media pages for. This means that when a complaint arises, they can quickly reply to the overseas client in an accurate style of language, without jeopardising their brand reputation at a global level. For smaller companies that don’t have the budget to employ multilingual teams, mastering up a response takes longer.

Develop an anti-crisis plan

Criticism of your business on your multilingual social media pages means that the reputation of your brand at a global level can be damaged. It’s important to have an anti-crisis plan ready and translate it into every language of each foreign market you operate in. Even if it’s a generic message for example ‘We are sorry to hear that you are unhappy with our services. Please email …. so that we can resolve any issues you may have’. Your overseas client will appreciate that you have acknowledged the problem and that you want to know more. After all, customers want to feel like they are your most important priority.

It’s also important that these translations are adapted into the reality of the foreign market concerned too. The last thing you want is poor translations damaging your reputation further when your professionality is being questioned on social media pages.

Don’t just assume that because you haven’t heard from overseas clients, that they are satisfied with your services

You’ve secured an international sale from a new client in a foreign market. Great! But hang on a second. Most of your overseas clients repeat purchase but this one seems to have fallen off the face of the earth. Where have they gone?! We all know that repeat purchases are much cheaper than acquiring new international leads, so existing clients overseas have to be nurtured and effective communication has to be maintained. Don’t just neglect them because the international sale has been made!

Create a feedback form and translate it into the languages of each foreign market you operate in. They want their opinions to be heard! If overseas clients are unhappy with your product or service then giving them a place for them to voice their opinions and concerns makes them feel better. They want their problem to be acknowledged and to be reassured that a representative of the company will contact them in order to resolve the issues and concerns they may have. After all, ‘the customer is always right’.

Feedback forms aren’t just for dealing with complaints. They’re a great way to gain an insight into how you can improve your relationships with new overseas clients, especially if a business has just begun it’s international expansion.


Download our FREE guide on how to successfully internationalise your business!