If you think English proficiency is something to boast about, you might have to rethink your priorities. Recently, there has been a growing awareness about native and regional languages, and software companies too have been catching the trend.
Many global SaaS players have started incorporating different languages into their software to make them more appealing and easier to use for people whose mother tongue is not English. This article explores the benefits and challenges of localizing software by incorporating regional languages to cater to a broader diaspora.
English- The Global Language, or is it?
People from the western countries who call themselves citizens of the first world dominate the global business market. As the language preferred by this dominant group is English, the rest of the world was pushed to adopt English for official communication. That being said, adopting English also made it easier to trade on a global scale. Software companies followed this trend. Despite their target customers being speakers of multiple languages, most software companies create all-English customer-side software.
However, statistically, English is only the third most spoken language globally (Mandarin takes the top spot). The many years of considering English as the language of the world have limited our horizons of growth. In non-English speaking countries, most people are comfortable only with their regional language.
Imagine the reach SaaS companies would gain if they moved past this fixed English language construct.
Benefits of regional languages in SaaS products
While it is easier to work with English when you’re starting on a small scale, you might eventually reach a point when most of your global customers are not comfortable with just English as a language option. At this stage, you have to consider diversifying your language base to retain or increase your global customer base.
Regional languages are also useful in minimizing geographical barriers to entry. Introducing local languages increases the accessibility of your software, especially within the local market. This also gives you a much-needed edge over the competition in these regional markets. Consequently, you are also likely to get more users!
Similarly, local payment methods are essential for business growth as each region will have its own rules and systems concerning money transfer. Therefore using a standardized method of payment is likely to cause unnecessary complications. Also, the tax systems vary across the globe, thus making one payment method an impractical option.
One of the essential elements in every business is customer satisfaction. With this element in mind, regional languages seem like the best choice as it guarantees an enhanced user experience and greater clarity of the processes. Excellent user experiences are a prerequisite for brand loyalty and new user onboarding.
How can localization be made a reality?
Language is the door to another culture’s soul, so you’ll have to consider numerous cultural and regional aspects while appropriating the regional language into your software.
The first and most important thing required is the collection of relevant data from the region under consideration. It is essential to know and understand the user range of the language and the potential target audience. Next, this collected data needs to be structured to facilitate easy comprehension of the language layout in a particular region. These languages can be segregated into global, domestic, non-English, localized, and international. Based on these distinctions, it is possible to identify the regional and global language needs.
Here are Some of the Difficulties Along the Way
Developing a multilingual SaaS product will do your business a lot of good, but don’t forget to be cautious of the drawbacks. A few things that will need immediate attention are:
- Multilingual support system
Presenting a multilingual SaaS product does not end at just the customer-end software or application. Instead, the entire feedback system also changes. When the product is designed with multilingual features, it is essential to ensure that there is also a strong multilingual support staff that can handle all customer complaints and feedback. This customer care service feature is useful in maintaining good relations with your customers, thus ensuring their brand loyalty.
- Complexity in coding
The amount of coding that goes behind a regular SaaS product is extensive. Imagine adding more complexity to these codes? Including languages specific to a particular region can be considered the easy part of this endeavor. The next step of identifying target audiences specific to the new regional language and promoting your product to these individuals in that language brings in a whole new level of complexity.
- Greater need for human resources
First, the process of translation itself necessitates the need for many human resources. Additionally, maintaining the multilingual product also requires constant upgradation and careful evaluation of the relevance of the regional language.
- Inaccurate translations
Although numerous online platforms guarantee exact and accurate translation of your text, it cannot be the only source of information concerning that language. This is because online translation websites often translate word by word without regard to the sentence construction and the contextual meaning of the words put together.
Let’s extend these concepts with an example
Latin America can be considered one of the most underrepresented regions in the global market space. While the west has long been catering to the needs of Latin Americans, there are certain unnoticed issues caused by the barrier of language.
Primarily, this region cannot be considered a single mass of land with similar communities and market needs as it comprises 33 distinct countries. Therefore, it is necessary to identify these countries individually and provide the SaaS product with regional specificity. As mentioned earlier, a highly region-specific product with applications in the native language will be advantageous in staying ahead of the competition in Latin America
Much like the new wave of literature attempting to focus on regional texts, the next wave of technology is also most likely to focus on delivering regionally relevant software. So for companies looking to expand to a global market, this is your next step.