It’s no secret that end clients, regardless of the industry that they represent, are becoming increasingly interested and knowledgeable in machine translation. This phenomenon confirms a strong general trend of applying more and more automation in the localisation chain to help keep up with growing content volumes. So what it is about machine translation that end clients find appealing?
A few years back, only the bravest and most cutting edge end clients ventured into the MT territory, with varying results. With the emergence of neural machine translation, which brought not only an increase in the overall quality of translations but also the speed with which those translations are produced, MT has become much more accessible to all users.
Language barriers are barriers to growth
Globalisation means that we are all used to being able to access information anywhere and at any given time. However, businesses often struggle with staying on top of their localisation needs and maintaining a scalable localisation strategy, effectively limiting their existing or potential customers’ access to information about their services or products.
This means that there is often a gap between the experience that customers have in a brand’s native market and those customers that rely on translated versions of the content in foreign markets.
It is all too clear that global expansion of any business cannot be done monolingually and any brand that doesn’t grasp that will struggle to grow its customer base in foreign markets. Lack of localised content leads to customer disengagement and therefore stands in the way of growth.
Why handling user-generated content is a challenge
The other side of the coin is that businesses find it difficult to efficiently manage their localisation needs simply because we are currently experiencing a deluge of content being generated, particularly by Internet users.
A brand that aims to actively engage with its customers across different markets needs to monitor, analyse and understand their online activity. This includes customers’ reviews, comments, Tweets, Instagram posts and video blogs as well as engage back with customers through support chats, replying to reviews, comments and posts.
User-generated content is also ever-changing – existing content can be edited at any time and new content is produced incessantly.
Online user activity and multilingual customer engagement present a huge challenge, not only due to the unimaginable volumes but also due to the perishability of the content. A review or comment that isn’t addressed promptly can cause serious damage to a brand’s reputation and drive new customers away, but it also quickly becomes outdated and therefore risks being overlooked by the brand.
The conclusion is clear – businesses have no choice but to react quickly.
What difference can machine translation make?
The undeniable advantage of machine translation is that it can be produced very quickly unlike traditional human translation. When it comes to analysing user-generated content, due to its perishability, there is often no time to go through a lengthy two- or three-linguist process and stringent quality assurance procedures.
This is where using specialised custom machine translation engines, that are capable of returning acceptable quality translations, can make a big difference in allowing businesses to understand what their customers say about them; and what is more, make strategic business decisions based on conclusions they draw from analysing user-generated content.
MT is also helpful in identifying the content that might benefit from being post-edited or even fully human translated, which allows brands to reach new global customers and as a result grow revenue streams.
When it comes to customer engagement, customer support centres are very rarely located in each individual region in which the company trades. Instead, the common practice is to have one centralised support hub. That naturally leads to a limited language coverage in those support centres.
To cater to a wider range of languages, companies might support their workers with the use of automated solutions such as multilingual chatbots, which are based on machine translation.
Companies that are able to cut down the time they need to understand their customers’ problems and needs, as well as address those, stand a much higher chance of making their international operations a thriving success.
With complex challenges that businesses face when serving their international audiences, machine translation is quickly becoming an indispensable complement to human translation efforts.