Ask Them Yourself: The Importance of Surveying Your Customers in Their Native Language

When surveying or interviewing a customer, it’s important to always try to do so in his or her native language when possible. Customers will feel most comfortable answering questions in their native language, as opposed to a second or third language. Since you will want the most open and candid feedback during the survey, taking the time to ensure the customer receives a market survey in their native language will not only make the customer feel more comfortable with your brand, but will also give you a leg up in your industry, providing you with the most relevant and reliable data possible from your survey, free from possible inferential errors. Although translating your surveys into your customer’s native language is important, it is also important to determine if there are any cultural differences that may need to be adapted. Questions phrased a certain way may seem perfectly acceptable in English, but they may not go over so well with the target audience. If you own a boutique that primarily sells wedding dresses and you are questioning whether or not customers feel that a traditional white wedding dress is still popular, your international respondents may be confused. In Morocco, brides traditionally wear yellow or green, and in China, red is a more traditional color for a bridal gown.

Knowing differences such as these will ensure that both your survey and your advertisements are best adapted to your audience. As a result, your survey responses will be both more detailed and relevant. If you ask a woman to describe how she feels about the traditional white (or yellow or red…) wedding dress in her native language, she is more likely to provide a more verbose and/or detailed answer. If her knowledge of English is limited (even just somewhat), she may only provide you with the answer she knows how to best articulate instead of the answer she really wants to provide. Thus, it’s important to take the time to localize the content of your survey as well.

This gives your business a step up in your industry. While providing a market survey only in English could get you some of the information you seek, your business will now have the types of answers that will take your international/cross-cultural marketing to the next level. Your surveyed customers will be able to provide you with the data needed to successfully market your business to a whole wider range of people instead of potentially falling victim to errors of inference.