Magazine article CRM Magazine

Where You at? Give Localization Its Due: Mastering This Important Concept Is Trickier Than You Think

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Where You at? Give Localization Its Due: Mastering This Important Concept Is Trickier Than You Think

Article excerpt

WHENEVER your favorite app gets updated, the vendor is always quick to point out new or expanded capabilities. Integration with some other vendor? Front page news! Updated user interface? Awesome! Look at any press release and you'll see there's a hierarchy of snazziness that most companies follow.

Somewhere down below the fold, past all the hot topics, is the space reserved for language support, localization, and additional currencies. These are the also-rans of apps marketing, the app equivalent of the bit players that pop up when you hit "see full cast and crew" on IMDB. This is a disservice, because localization is an important and noticeable part of the customer experience.

The ur-example of bad localization is one most readers will remember: stereo instructions. Growing up, anytime I bought an electronic device or other complex item from a foreign land (such as a stereo receiver made in China), I was taking my sanity in my hands. The instructions for building or operating the thing were usually direct and literal translations from the native language into English. This is almost never a good approach, and the results ranged from confusing to hilarious to life-threatening. Most businesses are now willing to spend a little extra on good translations, but cheaper goods still carry warnings such as "Note: Prevent cooks meals or is injured, only battery assigns carry on the charge."

But there's much more to localization than mistranslated manuals. Any sort of accounting or e-commerce system requires extensive changes depending on where in the world it's likely to be used. Currency, tax rules, and various laws must be considered, or the company could find itself in deep legal trouble.

Even software itself isn't immune to localization worries. Code isn't quite as universal and standardized as we might think, especially when it comes to proprietary stuff like operating systems and boxed software.

Maybe you think product localization doesn't really apply to CRM, but you'd be wrong. On the technology side, CRM faces the same issues as any other software. In addition, different countries have a variety of laws about what sort of customer data you can gather--Germany is notably strict about privacy, for example--so that will affect how your marketing apps behave. …

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