It’s a fact that in some places in the US, English isn’t the primary language. Whether you agree with this or not, as a retail business owner you have to deal with the real world issue of communicating with your customers. So, what should you be doing to speak to your customers in their language, even down to the slang they use?
America is a nation of immigrants, and this has always been true. What has changed is the expectation that people will emigrate here and learn English in order to be able to live, learn and do business. Regardless of your thoughts on the subject, the reality is that not all your customers will be English speaking. In order to sell to them and make them comfortable enough to buy from you, knowing their language, or providing them with materials in their native language is smart for business. The last thing you want as a salesperson is to lose the sale because your information was lost in the translation.
So what can you do to provide this level of service? Hire people who speak their language, especially if you don’t. This isn’t just for the non-English speaking customers, but also for those who English is their second language. That native speaker can help so there are no misunderstandings from translation. If you are in a neighborhood where it’s not so much a language barrier but a cultural one, remember that making customers comfortable is your aim. If they come in speaking all kinds of slang, using the Queen’s English won’t build any kind of rapport. One caveat though, don’t assume that your use of their slang will come across as “cool.” You may just insult them. So be culturally aware.
Next, you can make sure you provide written materials in both languages. Again, not to cater to them but to foster a true understanding so they can make an educated decision. That goes for your website too. If your business is in a neighborhood where the prevailing language is Spanish or French, then have links on your English site to Spanish or French translated pages.
Selling is about providing knowledge and service to those who purchase things or services from you. Isn’t taking the time to make sure you are speaking the language part of that service?
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