Website Translation

Human or Machine Translation: Which is Best for Localizing Your Customer Portal?

Localizing secure login portals for support and account management is a ‘must have’ for serving multilingual buyers.

Veronica Pastuch's avatar
Veronica Pastuch

March 25, 2020

3 MIN READ

According to CX experts, one of the most effective ways for companies to create profitable, sustainable relationships among multilingual and international buyers is to provide localized customer experiences.

At least 75% of global customers prefer to do business in their native languages, and are far less inclined to make purchases on sites they cannot read. More importantly, buyers won’t become satisfied customers—much less long-term ones—if they aren’t supported, post-purchase, with a localized customer journey.

Translating your organization’s secure customer account-management portal—and other customer-facing portal content such as support assets—is a critical element to successfully:

  • Generate customer satisfaction among multilingual customers
  • Improve customer retention
  • Increase conversions for upsell and cross-sell opportunities
  • Proactively communicating with customers

However, how well you succeed largely depends on what kind of translation approach you take with your portal. There are two primary approaches: translations provided by humans, or with software (aka machine translation).

Both have advantages and disadvantages, which can impact factors such as accuracy, conversion rates and costs. Let’s take a closer look.

Machine Translation

Machine translation solutions from companies like Google and Bing have come a long way in the past five years. And breakthroughs in Neural Machine Translation (NMT) software have made machine translation an increasingly viable option for some businesses. This is because:

  • NMT models process information similarly to the human brain
  • This enables them to essentially “learn” new languages
  • NMT software translates content at the sentence level (rather than at a less nuanced word level), delivering more accurate translations

Benefits of Machine Translation

Machine translation offers several advantages, including:

  • More affordable than human translation
  • Hundreds of webpages can be translated almost instantly
  • Using newer NMT solutions, translation quality can improve over time by “teaching” the software with additional content

Challenges of Machine Translation

The disadvantages, however, quickly pile up when you examine how machine translation still doesn’t come close to how human beings actually speak to each other:

  • Provides comparatively simplistic word choice and fluency
  • Software is often unable to account for regional or dialect variations
  • No editorial oversight is typically provided before publication
  • Hidden costs for reviewing and revising subpar translations
  • Improving the accuracy of a NTM solution requires a time- and energy-consuming “teaching” process

Human Translation

Great vendors provide professional linguists who are fluent in their customers’ industries, brands, languages and cultures of international markets. Studies indicate time and again that human translation generates superior engagement, conversions and credibility among multilingual customers.

Benefits of Human Translation

  • Superior translation accuracy
  • Content can be easily customized for regionally preferred dialects and phrases
  • Brand-aligned portal translation that captures your company’s messaging and voice
  • Quality is assured through human editorial oversight and multi-step review processes

Challenges of Human Translation

  • The required linguistic, creative and editorial expertise generates more costs than machine translation
  • Requires more time to translate text (though great vendors use optimized workflows to reduce turnaround times to 1 business day)

The Hybrid Option

Some vendors can combine human and machine translation approaches to mitigate localization costs. An ideal hybrid approach might use human translation for high-trafficked pages where nuance and messaging are crucial. Machine translation can then be used for less brand-sensitive content, where word choice is not as important.

Benefits of the Hybrid Option

  • Human translators can localize brand-sensitive, high-visibility content
  • Accurate, consistent brand messaging on high-trafficked pages by human translators
  • An ideal cost-saving compromise over human translation alone

Challenges of the Hybrid Option

  • Translation quality may vary from human and machine sources, but delivers dramatically higher accuracy than machine translation only
  • Human-translated sections are reviewed for accuracy, but machine translations may not

Conclusion

As you explore portal translation solutions, look for a partner that can help you achieve success through a translation process that is, ideally, invisible to the reader.

That means finding a technology and turn-key solution that’s as nimble and flexible as your needs.

These solutions can provide world-class human and machine translation options for your multilingual portal, and accommodate unique requests—such as using the hybrid approach on specific webpages, or within specific sections of webpages—to deliver superior results while controlling costs.

Last updated on March 25, 2020
Veronica Pastuch's avatar

About Veronica Pastuch

Throughout her 15-year career leading successful multicultural teams in the website localization industry, Veronica Pastuch has directly contributed to the translation, deployment and ongoing support of more than 1,500 multilingual websites, with an absolute commitment to superior quality and customer satisfaction.

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