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Lost in translation: Don’t get stuck with 15,000 eggs

Consider this experience an Olympic-sized warning to not simply rely on Google Translate, especially when interacting with an international audience.

With the Winter Olympics underway in South Korea, athletes from across the world gathered to compete for the gold. Google Translate was a common tool to bridge communication gaps, but as one team discovered, Google Translate isn’t perfect.

It’s far from it.

According to ESPN, the chefs for Norway’s Olympic team placed an order of eggs to keep their 109 competitors fed. The chefs placed a bulk order from a local store, depending on Google Translate to complete the order.

However, instead of ordering 1,500 eggs, the chefs actually ordered a whopping 15,000 eggs.  Oops!

That’s a lot of eggs.


Thankfully, the team was able to return the excess eggs. Even so, the experience is an excellent word of warning for anyone who depends solely on Google Translate to help with translation on your website, emails, or live chat.

Considering around 72% of consumers won’t buy from a website if they can’t read about the product in their native language, translation is a pretty big deal.

More than half of consumers in a study published in the Harvard Business Review believe that the ability to obtain information in their native language is more important than price.

Now, research from 2016 shows that Google Translate has improved its accuracy and can come close to human translators for some languages like Spanish or Chinese.

Even so, if your target audience speaks a different language like Romanian or Italian, it may be helpful to hire a translator to make sure the translation is 100% accurate.

Don’t forget to:

  1. Double-check your current translations, especially if it’s coming from a system like Google Translate and involving a language beyond Spanish or Chinese. Considering hiring a translator to help ensure the translation is 100% accurate.
  2. If you are focusing on a specific international audience, considering hiring someone locally to handle chats from that particular audience. For example, if your American-based company is expanding to focus on Dutch buyers, considering hiring a customer service representative from The Netherlands to handle chats from Dutch customers.
  3. Focus your translation efforts on the highest priority webpages, including: Home page, product pages, About Us, FAQs, Contact Us, Shipping, and Checkout. If you are tight on a budget, look at your Conversion Funnel to identify where the majority of the conversions are being made and where your international audience may be abandoning your website.
  4. Be mindful of other cultural differences such as how dates are written, measurements, currency, SEO, country-specific regulations, and even calendars.

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