Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

That's exactly why many companies offer support in multiple languages (with a phone menu or separate numbers) and hire people who are fluent in those languages specifically for phone support. I can say this with certainty because it's one of the services my current employer provides.

For the kind of difficult issues being discussed here it is already challenging to train staff in a single language capable and with the proper authority to resolve. A company operating in Europe has 20+ languages to deal with... (I work for a company doing customer service in 12 languages, we deliberately do not offer phone support because escalating or forwarding anything becomes unmanageable)

It's not unmanageable, but it does depend on the user base and the expectations set from the first sales call. My current employer is a truly worldwide company - we officially provide support in 6 languages via phone and email and make it clear that English is the business language when we don't have a dedicated language support team. Our users are told quite clearly by regional sales teams that higher tier support is done in English and local major languages only. (I.e,. Apac escalated cases only have Chinese and English as options)

While there are occasional hiccups, more often our biggest complaint is time zone differences not language, since calls are routed to the proper language queue world wide. Our support staff is chosen for tech knowledge and comfort with language and customer service skills.

Now I mention userbase mattering since were primarily working with it professionals not your average computer user. There seems to be a higher likelihood that tech people world wide know at least some English or have someone in office who speaks it. If truly no one in the customer's business speaks English, we've gotten by on translate tools and a lot of patience and understanding. The rather specific nature of our product allows a narrower vocabulary to be used, and support works well even if we don't understand each other through spoken word.

This obviously couldn't work for all things - a large enough userbase tends to have no common denominator you can rely on. But if your product Has a clear customer in mind with a certain background multi lingual phone support is plenty possible.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact