ClassPass uses Unbabel to expand around the globe and offer subscribers native-language support without the challenges of opening a customer service hub in each new market.
Fitness and wellness company ClassPass was looking to expand from the United States into international markets, but building a customer support infrastructure in each market was impractical. The company had a predominately domestic email and chat customer support team and needed a way for its associates to provide native-language customer service in the new markets. ClassPass turned to Unbabel to scale its support from one language, English, to 15 languages, allowing the company to grow its subscriber count and deliver the high-quality customer experiences users expect.
Acquired by Mindbody in 2021, ClassPass provides access to over 30,000 fitness and wellness centers across 30 countries. Subscribers can enjoy a wide range of gyms, salons, spas, and classes in yoga, pilates, strength training, barre, martial arts, boxing, and indoor cycling. In 2020, the female-founded startup reached unicorn status, achieving a $1 billion valuation after it closed a $285 million Series E funding round.
At a glance
- Founded in 2013 by 28-year-old MIT graduate Payal Kadakia
- Headquarters in Missoula, MT
- 30,000 fitness and wellness centers across 30 countries
A startup eyes global expansion
If you’ve ever wanted to sample a variety of fitness classes in your area, or get in a good workout while away from home, then ClassPass is the app for you. The subscription service is a one-stop shop for all things fitness, wellness, and beauty. Throughout the 2010s, ClassPass spread across the United States, partnering with gyms, spas, and studios from coast to coast, allowing for more domestic subscribers to enjoy the app and the access it provides.
To really grow the business, leadership at ClassPass knew it had to expand into markets beyond the border, with Europe being the first international destination in its sights. But with its predominantly English-speaking customer service staff located in North America, ClassPass realized it would be unable to provide first-class, native-language customer support to its international subscribers without setting up costly hubs in each market.
And since there was no standardized localization workflow within the customer experience (CX) department, associates would have to rely on lower quality, free translation solutions when communicating with speakers in another language.
However, ClassPass understood its subscribers were digitally savvy, preferring to reach support associates by email or chat. So the company could realize its plans for global expansion with the help of a partner capable of providing fast, reliable, high-quality, translation services.
AI-powered, native-language support in 15 languages
According to Sarah Vanden Broek, Senior Manager of Customer Experience at ClassPass, partnering with Unbabel was an easy decision. “Everyone in the customer service space knows Unbabel. They are the go-to player for translations.”
In 2019, ClassPass integrated Unbabel’s human-in-the-loop, AI-powered translation solution with its Zendesk CRM. As a result, the company was able to quickly and seamlessly expand into 2,500 cities across 30 countries. The hands-on training and resources Unbabel provided to ClassPass helped establish a standardized practice across the CX department, driving efficient scale. Now, ClassPass is able to offer customer service in 15 languages.
In fact, Unbabel translates thousands of inbound inquiries (chat and email) every month. It’s in the email translations where Vanden Broek sees the highest value as Unbabel more effectively communicates to customers compared to other machine translation options. Additionally, Unbabel scales well, so customer service associates can handle the influx of tickets that originate during peak season (e.g., New Year's resolutions in Q1).
“Unbabel allows us to seamlessly help the customer no matter what channel they’re using or what language they speak,” says Vanden Broek.
Vanden Broek also mentions that customers expect to receive native-level support when interacting with a brand, and Unbabel provides translations that meet these expectations — so much so that she never receives negative feedback on quality. Previously, support associates might have turned to a free, online translation tool when interacting with customers communicating in a different language. Now, with some easy retraining, they are relying on Unbabel, just as Vanden Broek hoped they would.
ClassPass’s expansion into international markets has been a success, which is made possible by the second-to-none customer experience subscribers receive. For instance, the Netherlands has become a large market. But with Unbabel’s translations, each of the many inbound support tickets are able to be resolved to the customers’ delight. And Vanden Broek expects the partnership with Unbabel to continue for years to come.
- Customer service delivered across 15 languages
- Customer associates deliver high-quality communications in the target language, especially when it comes to email.
- CSAT scores for translated tickets are comparable to tickets from English speakers.
- ClassPass has been able to expand to 30 countries.