The Language of Service and Sales
In 1995, consumer electronics marketer Crutchfield was one of the first companies to staff its in-house call center with Spanish-speaking service representatives, which it calls sales advisors. A decade later, it became one of the first wave of e-tailers to develop a Spanish-language Web site, upholding its brand promise to deliver exceptional service to its entire customer base.
As would be expected, the impetus for the launch of a Spanish-language version of the Crutchfield site was the firm’s Hispanic customer base. Sale advisors noted a growing number of Spanish-speaking callers who wanted to research and purchase products online, but faced a language barrier with Crutchfield’s English-language site. “It is important to be able to reach this clientele and offer the same level of service and product information as we do for our English-speaking customers,” says Giulia Witcombe, a bilingual sales advisor at Crutchfield.
Working with MotionPoint, a provider of Web site translation technology and services in Coconut Creek, Fla., the marketer developed a mirror site in Spanish, meaning that everything on the Web pages is the same—products, descriptions, prices, specials, installation guides, shopping carts, navigation, etc.—as it appears on the English-language site. Even the non-product graphics remain consistent so Spanish-speaking customers receive a similar Web site experience as their English-speaking counterparts. Given this approach, Crutchfield is careful when using stock photos to strive for a multicultural representation that offers a more universal appeal, rather than displaying Hispanic-specific images on the Spanish-language site.
Another important feature of Crutchfield’s site is a link that allows visitors to easily access the Spanish-language site from the English-language version and vice versa. While it would be more helpful to stay on the same Web page when toggling back and forth, this feature still allows bilingual customers to access site information in their language of choice.
Witcombe reports that traffic from and sales to the Hispanic customer segment have continually grown since the launch of Crutchfield’s Spanish-language site. The company has been proactive in educating this market segment about the presence of the site and its other Spanish-language support services, spreading the news through its call center representatives, catalogs and e-mail campaigns. “Word of mouth is strong in the Hispanic community,” says Witcombe, so that in itself has helped traffic grow.
Besides growing its Hispanic customer base and share of market, Crutchfield has obtained an additional benefit from the site’s launch: A reduction in basic inquiry calls to sales advisors from Hispanic customers who use the site. Instead, when these customers call, they typically desire more product insight to help make a purchasing decision or prefer to buy offline.
While most marketers at this point are satisfied to provide their Hispanic customers with a shopping experience comparable to that enjoyed by their English-speaking customers, service-oriented Crutchfield is looking to raise the bar in serving this market segment. Witcombe was not at liberty to divulge any of the what’s or when’s of the marketer’s planned site enhancements, but she did confirm that Crutchfield has been researching features geared specifically to engage the Hispanic market and make Crutchfield its one-stop shop for consumer electronics.