While the US does not have an official language, the unofficial “official” language for American financial services is English.
Of the 350 languages spoken in the US, English is the currency for lending.
English-only lenders often underrepresent and underservice limited English proficient (LEP) borrowers. This is also the case for those who do not speak English as their primary language or have a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand the language.
Linguistic representation and accommodation creates familiarity in the lending space, while English-only resources and experiences can create distrust and uncertainty among LEP customers applying for loans.
Here are a few ways lenders can improve communication with the LEP population:
1) Utilize SEO in Languages Beyond English
There are an estimated 5.5 billion Google searches per day. Additionally, one in five Americans (21.5%) speak a language other than English at home. That means up to one billion queries could be unfulfilled due to language barriers.
Search engine optimization (SEO) increases content visibility with organic search.
Organic search is the primary source of website traffic, and if done beyond English, it can drive LEP customers to your online brand, webpage, policy, etc., building trust and credibility in new markets as well as improving the user experience.
Multilingual targeted keywords connect online LEP customer traffic to your online content. But if an LEP customer is attracted by your multilingual SEO results and clicks on your page to be welcomed by an English-only website, how will they navigate from there?
2) Localize Your Website
There are three immediate benefits to localizing your website.
1) It increases the ease of use for new LEP inquirers.
2) It improves the user experience by providing a comfortable and familiar online environment.
3) It serves the brand providing the multilingual experience as it can attract an entirely new market of consumers.
For example, when high-end watch e-tailer Ashford localized their website into Simplified Chinese with GlobalLink OneLink, the brand saw a 500% spike in website traffic on the first day the site launched. After a year, the company recorded a 670% increase in Chinese site visitors and a 700% growth in revenue.
Insurance policy shopping is less frequent and sought after than retail shopping, but in-language insurance shopping experiences should not be a luxury—providing this service is a necessity for both brands and their customers.
3) Create Multilingual Material
While English is the currency for lending in the US, in-language support is the currency for trust and customer success, especially for LEP speakers.
Multilingual marketing materials, applications, financial documents, help centers, etc., honor an openness and a willingness to accommodate LEP and non-English customers.
Roughly 75% of customers are more likely to buy products or services if the information is in their first language. The digital era has expanded communication channels into new and various engagement and servicing avenues.
For example, customer service infrastructure incorporates both humans and robots in online chat and over-the-phone interactions. Lenders can leverage on-demand interpretation, or the art of spoken translation, while AI-centric legacies can use multilingual datasets to train AI chatbots to provide in-language servicing, creating a universal customer experience regardless of language or proficiency. This leads to an entirely more inclusive lending experience.
How to Get Started
For a more inclusive lending strategy, brands must include and prioritize LEP customers equally to English proficient customers.
If you are new on your multilingual customer journey, TransPerfect recommends implementing a multilingual SEO strategy first to adhere to the CFPB guidelines for connecting with LEP customers without further implementing multilingual communication/servicing strategies, which opens the door to engaging beyond English.
For those that have started a multilingual customer journey and are currently servicing beyond English, TransPerfect Connect‘s on-demand interpretation platform scales information governance and in-language support (in 170 languages) for first-level support as well as BPO assistance.
For a multilingual transformation that will help leverage your brand with LEP customers, contact us today.