Return on investment – more commonly referred to as “ROI” – is an important statistic for any savvy business professional. After all, you want to make sure that you’re investing your money wisely and in ways that will provide the maximum benefits for your company. When it comes to marketing and many other areas of business, there is a tried-and-true formula used to calculate ROI.

For marketing: Subtract total investment from total revenue, then divide that number by the total investment and multiply the resulting number by 100. The higher your percentage is, the better your ROI is. Determining your ROI for marketing collateral is relatively straightforward. After all, you know how much money you spent to produce the collateral and how much revenue you received as a result of using that collateral, so you can rely on this standard formula to calculate your ROI. Determining ROI for customer service, on the other hand, is not quite as obvious.

For customer service: The standard ROI formula noted above is one that is typically used not only for marketing collateral, but for virtually any aspect of business where an investment has been made and revenue has been received as a result of that investment. But customer service departments don’t generate revenue. In fact, customer service has traditionally been considered to be a cost center rather than a profit center. Still, companies do profit – albeit not always as directly as they do from marketing campaigns, for example – by providing excellent customer service to their customers. And there are hard and solid statistics associated with customer service. For example, it’s estimated that approximately 80% of a company’s future revenue will come from 20% of its existing customers, and that revenue can be increased by 75% due to only a 5% increase in returning customer purchases. So although there may not be a tried-and-true formula for calculating customer service ROI, it’s obvious how much a company benefits from providing those valuable services to their customers.

In fact, the same can be said for the ROI of translation services. While a precise formula may be difficult to determine, there is no question about how beneficial it is to provide translated versions of marketing collateral and ensuring that multilingual customer service representatives are on hand to assist customers. Those benefits include:

Attracting new customers

Whether you’re attempting to expand your business into the global marketplace, or simply reaching out to non-native-English speakers right here at home, ensuring that your promotional material can be easily read and understood by a larger audience will help to encourage those individuals to purchase your product or service.

Retaining customers

From a customer service point of view, nothing says “we value you as a customer” more than staffing your customer service department with multilingual service representatives.

Building your brand

Providing promotional material in multiple languages, as well as hiring multilingual customer service professionals, will help to establish your brand as a global entity.

Encouraging returning customers

Remember what we said about 80% of your future revenue coming from 20% of your existing customers? This alone should convince you of the value of multilingual customer service. If you can’t afford to hire the people, at the very least provide online customer support in a multilingual format.

ROI, in some circumstances, may be simple to calculate. But in our day and age, an increasing number of executives are coming to the realization that ROI is often much less tangible than dollars and cents. You may be able to calculate how much revenue is brought in by a marketing campaign, but communicating effectively with people who speak different languages will benefit your company in a much more far-reaching manner than simple revenue. Those intangible benefits can help your company to grow in the future and to maintain a strong and loyal customer base in even the most challenging of times. And that is the ultimate ROI.