At the tail end of this year’s Gilbane conference was a topic that, no matter which industry you’re in, should be at the top of your list of priorities: Delivering Customer Experience in Challenging Times. Or, as we like to put it, How to Keep Getting Money out of Penny-Pinching People.

Moderating the panel was Leonor Ciarlone a Lead Analyst in Content Globalization at Gilbane Group, and speakers were Nic McMahon, VP Global Technology Solutions, Lionbridge and Natasja Paulssen, a partner at Ordina Consulting.

The Post 2.0 Content Revolution

McMahon kicked off the discussion by stating that when it comes to present day, our new approach should be about addressing the new content paradigm. One undeniable fact is that the Long Tail concept is allowing information to spread at a much quicker rate.

It’s spreading so quick, in fact, that, as McMahon says, it’s essential for businesses hoping to gain international success to communicate in 127 languages, give or take a few. At least, they should if they plan to reach their full potential. 

Who's responsible? Well, that's easy. Call it what you want: Web 2.0, the Social Media Phenomenon, etc. Whatever it is, it’s huge and it’s full of people constantly chatting with each other and bringing in new information -- both relevant and non relevant. For businesses, this means new customers, new communities, new content, new demands.

Unfortunately, a boom such as this means businesses no longer have the ability to provide intimate, one-on-one assistance for every single customer in their base, so a natural alternative for sustaining their relationships is to provide a product that is so irresistibly wonderful, easy to use and self explanatory that people can’t help but fall in love and stay in love.

It’s about constantly improving customer experience. One easy way to do that is to throw a bunch of cash into a project, test a bunch of stuff and throw more cash at whatever works the best, but unfortunately, at the other end of today's spectrum is financial crisis.

“Customer expectations are essential," says McMahon. Just because we’re having challenging times, doesn’t mean they’ll lower their expectations." So how do we deal?

Think Globally, Act Locally

It's a simple concept, really. Both McMahon and Paulssen explained that you can test things locally, or on a small scale, and use the information boom to get your product out there once you have it down right.

"The market is rapid, and what we’ve seen is that tactics haven’t been kept in line. It’s not changing from human based localization services, when it should be," explained McMahon. "You have to move right back to square one and think about a post 2.0 environment. Ultimately, shift to a model that creates a small infrastructure that will empower the local market."

McMahon asked the audience how many people were working for businesses translating in 5 languages or more. Nobody raised their hand. The air suddenly became very heavy.

"The essence of today is to listen and act," said Paulssen. "You have to have your ears out into the market, but if you’re global, that can be hard because the world is talking to you in all languages. You must have the infrastructure to deal with that."

One member of the audience asked for an example of a company that's acting intelligently under our current economic conditions, and McMahon seemed pretty taken with Microsoft: 

"Microsoft is a preeminent example of a company reacting to globalization with total maturity," he explained. "They’ve got an effective model. When they tend to do projects, they do them in partnership. This is essential. They also listen to virtually anything. They let you talk, pitch, share your insight, etc. When we first did MTM projects with Microsoft, nobody knew the value, but neither side gave up. They’ve always been very good about opening up a dialogue and establishing what’s there. Opening yourself up to the entire supply chain is a commodity that’s often overlooked." 

Though we've seen panels this week that were coming from opposite ends of the field, McMahon and Paulssen were definitely playing for the same team, and we think that team is called Collaboration.

"Depend on each other," Paulssen added. "To me, the most important part of the 2.0 movement is that you have to depend on each other. People provide the information, not machines."