Brands are losing customers thanks to language barriers and poor online responses

Brands are losing customers thanks to language barriers and poor online responses Liz Morrell is a freelance business journalist and content creator with more than 20 years writing experience, including 15 in retail and associated sectors. She is a regular contributor to MarketingTech but also covers a number of other industries in her freelance capacity. Contact her via LinkedIn or at


Brands are failing to be fully understood in their interactions with consumers – leading to a very high possibility of losing customers as a result, according to a new report released today.

In a new study Consumers vs Agents, Can the Gap be Closed, from Eptica, it was found that 78% of UK consumers said that getting a response that either partially or completely failed to answer an email or tweet they had sent to a brand was in their top two biggest frustrations. Similarly nearly a third – 31% – said that a failure to acknowledge upset or anger with a brand was also an issue.

In France almost two thirds (63%) of those studied said that impersonalised responses or responses that failed to address their concerns or problems was their number one issue whilst response times also frustrated more than a third (38%).

It’s a situation that brands can’t afford to put themselves into since in both the UK and France customers will react by switching suppliers from someone that fails to treat their queries appropriately. The study showed that 82% of British consumers always or often switched suppliers if such things happened whilst 83% of the French said the same.

Some were more understanding however with 55% of French and 41% of British respondents saying that prompt responses and a willingness to sort out, apologise or compensate for such inadequacies would encourage them to stay loyal to the brand.

However the report also found that it was often language that was the barrier. 71% of British agents listed understanding the language and vocabulary used by consumers  in their top two frustrations whilst the figure was 54% for French agents. The study showed the nuances of emotion were also harder to gauge for non-native speakers with 32% of British and 31% of French agents finding it hard to recognise anger or upset in written communications.

The report that said that email was the primary communication method of contacting brands with 87% of UK consumers and 83% of French consumers using it – leading to the greater likelihood of misunderstanding since text based channels lack context or visual or verbal clues.

“Customer engagement in both the UK and France is being severely compromised by the growing understanding gap that is developing between agents and consumers,” said Julian Sammells, sales director UK & Ireland, Eptica. “As digital channels grow, this problem will only get worse, leading to increased customer churn, weaker engagement and lower revenues for brands. Companies need to listen to their frontline agents who feel powerless to help customers and ensure they are investing in the tools and technology needed to bridge the gap – before it widens even further.”

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