Chatbots are getting more and more popular, and indeed this trend is due to continue. How many times, whilst browsing on a website, have you seen from the corner of your eye a little square emerging, usually with a question such as ‘Can I help?’ or ‘Let’s chat’?
The reality is that many more online services than we realise are already automated, and amongst these, chatbots are here to stay. Users expect new and better things from technology, and businesses have to exceed those expectations if they want to stay ahead of the game.
But exactly what are chatbots?
Chatbots are services, sometimes powered by artificial intelligence, which are coded to respond to specific rules, and which users can interact with by asking questions.
Having said this, the questions you ask a chatbot have to be specific, and they have to be asked in a certain way in order to produce an answer, because there is a lot that they still can’t do, like interacting successfully in areas such as feelings, emotions, and ambiguity. If on the one hand, chatbots can’t yet communicate like humans do, on the other, several studies predict that future online interactions will be mostly automated. You can see how having a great strategy when it comes to chatbots will be essential.
If you’re an international company which makes use of chatbots, then it is vital for you to translate and localise them successfully. However, this is no easy task: it requires a significant amount of resources such as developers, linguists and last but not least, time. However, paying attention to the points listed below will ensure that you have a successful strategy for chatbot localisation.
- Identify what your audience wants. Once you know this, you can decide how your chatbot will help provide that and what its purpose will be. A chatbot should only be used if it can offer an additional service to your business, and fill in a hole in your current service offering. It should make your customers’ life easier and it should be tailored to their specific needs.
- Localise your script. If your bot is serving many countries, then the script needs to not only be translated but also localised, i.e. adapted to the culture and way of speaking of each specific country. Providing your linguist with a brief on the context of the country in question will be of enormous value here.
- You should be especially careful with inflections and word endings when localising your script. Either code your bot to properly handle case variations, or allow a linguist to localise full sentences: it’s vital to use the right conjugation of words in the languages you translate into!
- Keep in mind that the length of the translated text may differ from that of the original text. When you translate from English, the text normally expands, and in some cases it even doubles, which is something developers should bear in mind. If you have to respect specific character limits, make sure you know what these are. Limiting the number of characters in the original script, as well as opting for simple grammatical structures, will considerably ease the process.
- Beware of profanity and rudeness. Profanity and rudeness can sometimes become a problem with bots, and a profanity filter can come in handy. You should also limit the usage of humour and jargon, as well as references to popular culture.
- Think about gender. English is a genderless language but in most cases, when you translate from English into another language, you will incur into the issue of gender. You will need to make a decision on the gender you want your chatbot to have, and communicate this to your linguists so that they can translate the script accordingly.
- Emojis. Emojis are used differently in different countries around the world. You need to understand how they are used in those served by your chatbot, as you cannot afford to misuse emojis and possibly lose the trust of your audience. Your linguist needs to be emoji-fluent!
- Loading speed. If your chatbot is active in different countries around the world, chances are these will have varying internet speeds. Making sure that your chatbot can load properly even in remote places is key, as you don’t want to frustrate your customers!
When it comes to localising the script for your chatbot you need to work closely with linguists, and provide them with a detailed brief, including screenshots, notes, contextual descriptions, etc. to support the text that needs translating. You need to also make sure that you’re using the appropriate graphical elements for the country, such as emojis and images, as well as ensuring fast loading speed.
Be concise, and always review your localised script with a linguist. Ultimately, always tailor your approach to each country you are targeting, and never make assumptions without having checked the information with your in-country speakers!
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