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How TuneCore Expanded its Global Customer Operations with Unbabel

Recording artists are one of the many groups that have overcome the global pandemic. Many independent artists were forced to put their tour schedules on hold and turn to creative approaches, with digital music distribution as their only source of income. TuneCore, the leading independent digital music distributor, was there to make the transition to digital easier for its community of musicians around the world. 

Since its inception in 2006, TuneCore has expanded globally, now working with independent artists on a global basis. Unlike other distributors, TuneCore gives 100% of sales and streaming revenue back to musicians. A major challenge for the Artist Support team was serving an influx of artists in their native language. Hiring for each new language was expensive and impractical. Using Unbabel for Zendesk, TuneCore was able to seamlessly expand into new countries and territories with their existing team of Artist Support specialists – without missing a beat. Here’s how.

Hiring based on speciality, not language

The digital music distribution space is complex and nuanced. Each independent artist has specific needs, which require expertise in areas like YouTube and social media distribution, fraud prevention, and more. Not to mention, translating music terminology into a variety of languages is a big challenge. Before using Unbabel, the TuneCore team fielded customer support requests in five languages, using native speakers on its internal team and via its BPO partner, Apollo blake. For one-off requests outside of these languages, the team relied on Google Translate, or by finding a native speaker somewhere within the organization. 

This approach resulted in some support tickets taking weeks to resolve, often with inaccurate translations. Using Unbabel, the team was able to rely on AI to translate text between languages (complex music terminology and all). From there, specialists on the Artist Support team handle the last mile of the customer interaction, ensuring that every question is addressed to the artist’s satisfaction. That way, TuneCore can hire based on the agent’s area of expertise, rather than their mastery of a specific language. Using Unbabel has been especially efficient for languages with a low volume of customer tickets, where musicians still need support in a timely manner.

Improving CSAT scores with hybrid human-machine translation  

Using Unbabel for Zendesk, the customer operations team at TuneCore unlocked efficient multilingual support at scale. This integration provided the team with fast, high-quality machine translation responses to each multilingual support request. Since agents were already used to working within Zendesk, the process of using Unbabel was seamless. Unbabel and Zendesk even helped TuneCore’s globally distributed team transition to remote work during the pandemic without interruption.

As a result, the Artist Support team was able to answer tickets that previously would have taken up to three weeks within the same day. In some cases, support tickets that once took weeks were answered in under 30 minutes. This dramatic drop in wait times increased customer satisfaction scores by five percentage points in 2020. Even though customer support ticket volume increased due to pandemic-driven digital music releases, the Artist Support team now consistently achieves SLAs in the high 90s for its fast, efficient and accurate multilingual support. 

Using language operations to scale to new markets

Perhaps best of all, the TuneCore team was able to expand its operations to new countries and territories without taking months to hire a team of native speakers for each market. Using Unbabel, TuneCore went from supporting five to 29 languages. Existing Artist Support specialists can now cover requests across multiple markets.

At Unbabel, we believe in a discipline called language operations, where businesses can use the power of AI to scale quickly – by speaking with customers and stakeholders in their native language – across the entire organization. AI and machine translation are democratizing language for businesses like TuneCore, who are growing quickly and need to communicate with their artist community for their bottom lines. For TuneCore, the opportunity of language operations is evident.

“Without Unbabel it would be almost impossible for us to serve a global marketplace, at the scale at which we’ve been expanding into new countries and territories this year. It has been one of the most important parts of our toolkit,” said Sean Daley, director of content and rights operations at TuneCore.

Want to learn more about how TuneCore served its global music community with Unbabel?

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