Voice of the Industry

The potential of AI in breaking down language barriers and improving customer service and shopping experiences

Thursday 29 February 2024 08:22 CET | Editor: Raluca Ochiana | Voice of the industry

Rad Anandakumar, Practice Manager at AI Consulting Group, explores how AI can break down language barriers and enhance customer service and shopping experiences.


In today’s global market, the presence of language barriers, rooted in linguistic and intercultural differences, hinders businesses from attaining their full potential. This hurdle not only limits market reach, but also affects customer experience and engagement. With over 7,000 languages spoken globally and their inherent different cultural nuances, enterprises must find ways to overcome this difficulty.Artificial intelligence (AI) can play a pivotal role in breaking down language barriers. AI-based solutions can automate language translations to adjust content to specific languages, cultures, or regions – and simplify everyday communication. It can break through limitations outside of spoken and written language, and it can also work via other types of communication such as images and icons, thus facilitating mutual understanding and increasing the use of inclusive language. AI offers revolutionary solutions that could redefine how businesses interact with a global customer base. Let’s explore the myriad of ways in which AI can overcome linguistic barriers, enhance customer experience, and provide personalised shopping solutions.

Breaking down the language barriers

AI has been used to overcome the linguistic divide through various translation solutions for both written and spoken languages.

Machine translation: AI-powered machine translation systems have made significant strides in translating text and speech between languages. These systems use neural networks and deep learning to constantly improve translation accuracy.

Real-time translation: AI can enable real-time language translation during conversations, making it easier for people who speak different languages to communicate effectively. Devices like smart earbuds can provide on-the-fly translation services. They offer improved accuracy and the ability to translate in real time, facilitating smoother cross-language communication.

Language learning: AI can assist in language learning by offering personalised lessons and practice exercises. Language learning apps use AI to adapt content to an individual’s proficiency level and learning style.

Video conferencing with automatic captioning: Conferencing platforms now use AI features such as automatic captioning to boost user experience. With auto captions, teammates who speak different languages can better understand what is being said in the conversation.

Speech-to-text and text-to-speech: AI-driven features like speech-to-text and text-to-speech can enable communication for individuals with different language abilities, making digital content more accessible.

Enhancing the customer experience and bringing true business value

In addition to hindering understanding, language barriers can compromise a positive customer experience (CX). It’s vital for companies to deliver inclusive language to customers to optimise the customer experience, and AI has tremendous potential to do that.

Intelligent virtual agents: AI communication tools can help ease a company’s reliance on one or a few multilingual employees to translate conversations. One such tool is an intelligent virtual agent (IVA). IVAs can enable customers to find answers to their questions in various languages, via their preferred channel, and on their own time. This autonomy improves customer experience and can reduce the negative impacts of language barriers. Real-time intelligent voice virtual agents are available now. 

Icon-based interfaces: Designing interfaces with icons, images, and symbols instead of relying solely on text can make products and services more accessible to users with diverse language backgrounds. 

Chatbots and virtual assistants: AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants can provide instant responses to customer inquiries, handle routine tasks, and offer 24/7 support. They can be trained to understand natural language and resolve issues efficiently. 

Sentiment analysis: AI can analyse customer feedback and sentiment on social media and other platforms. This helps companies understand customer opinions, identify issues, and make necessary improvements. 

Personalised recommendations: AI algorithms can analyse customer data to provide personalised product or service recommendations. This improves the overall shopping experience and can lead to increased sales and customer satisfaction. 

Advancements in neural machine translation (NMT): NMT has seen continuous improvement, with major tech companies investing in research and development. These systems are now capable of providing more contextually accurate translations. 

Recommendation systems: AI-driven recommendation engines, like those used by Amazon and Netflix, analyse user behaviour and preferences to suggest products or content that are likely to be of interest. This increases user engagement and sales. 

Visual search: AI can enable visual search capabilities, allowing users to look for products using images rather than text. Retailers are integrating AI-powered visual search features into their apps and websites, making it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for. This improves the shopping experience, especially in industries like fashion and home décor. 

Voice search and recognition: Integrated AI-driven voice search capabilities can understand and respond to spoken queries in multiple languages. This allows customers to search for products and navigate shopping platforms using voice commands. 

Real-time translation for reviews and descriptions: These utilise AI to ensure that shoppers can access and understand the opinions and details about products, even if they are written in a language they are not familiar with. 

Chat translation in online marketplaces: In online marketplaces where individual sellers may communicate with buyers, the integration of AI-driven chat translation services can facilitate communication, regardless of the merchant’s and buyer’s language preferences, thus enhancing the potential for sales and encouraging customer retention. 

Maximising the AI benefits 

Considering that AI also has tremendous potential in providing important enhancements to further personalise the shopping experience, by incorporating AI-driven solutions, businesses can break down language barriers and create a more inclusive and user-friendly environment. This not only expands the potential customer base, but also fosters positive interactions and relationships with a global audience.

This editorial piece was first published in The Paypers' Cross-Border Payments and Ecommerce Report 2023–2024, which taps into the fast-growing cross-border market and provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments that are pivotal in this space, being the ultimate source of information for ecommerce businesses interested in expanding globally. 

About Rad Anandakumar

Rad Anandakumar is the Practice Manager of AI Consulting Group, taking the lead on its growth, providing thought leadership, project advisory support, and strategic consulting. He is responsible for helping organisations solve problems through data, AI, IoT, ML, and data science – and offers guidance on security, ethics, and best practice governance.


About AI Consulting Group

AI Consulting Group is an AI advisory organisation delivering machine learning and artificial intelligence advice, resources, and outcomes. The company leverages its project management expertise, delivered through its Agile-Scrum-based approach, to achieve project flexibility, speed, and outcomes that align with business goals.

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Keywords: cross-border payments, ecommerce, customer experience, artificial intelligence, machine learning, marketplace, online payments, generative AI
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: AI Consulting Group
Countries: World
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