Dec 20, 2016 by Curtis Cotsonis Strategy

KB en Français

Earlier this year, I started the process of translating our Knowledge Base (KB) into French. I don’t speak French, so I called on our French-speaking language support specialists to help us get started and maintain the content as our technical writers update and add articles.

Even in English, words have different meanings in the context of MailChimp, so I needed to make sure our translators had all of the information they needed to understand and convey that context. The French KB wasn’t live yet, but our French-speaking agents had already been helping users, effectively creating a French dialect within the context of our app.

After a week or so, our Francophone support agents created a list of MailChimp’s key terms and how we say them in French: “campaign,” “subscriber,” “automation,” and many more. We shared this dialect with our translators in a type of glossary, which is a list of words not with definitions, but with established translations for the target language.

Once the translators had all of these details (along with some background information and a list of words not to translate), they began. It took a good couple of months to receive the translations and put them into our content management system. As we got closer to our launch date, I brought our language support specialists back in to do some quality assurance on our new French content. They became both our beta testers and first users, checking for clarity, accuracy, and inconsistencies.

Since our KB consists of around 600 articles and is constantly evolving, I knew it wouldn’t be realistic for our French speakers to proofread every single article. James, our lead content strategist, generated a list of the KB articles with the most views in English, and our language support specialists began reviewing there. Our French speakers read them over and provided feedback to help keep things Chimpy.

Our French KB is now live, and we’re constantly updating and adding content. There’s always going to be something to receive feedback on, whether it’s positive or negative. To keep that channel open wide, I set up a Google Form for our language support specialists to suggest changes and additions. Once I receive their feedback, I can quickly make revisions and pass thoughts along to our technical writers if needed.

Throughout the process of creating the French KB, I realized how valuable the activity and feedback from our support agents is. Although the technical content team creates this documentation for our users, it’s also highly beneficial to our support agents. They are continuously working with our content, using it to guide users, and sharing whole articles.

Our language support specialists aren’t just dedicated teammates—they’re also my own internal customers. The work I do allows them to do their job better, in turn providing a better support experience for our users. Launching the French KB has started a relationship that we will continue to hone as we add more content and languages to the MailChimp KB. I can’t wait to see what we come up with next.


  • Brice

    01.27.2017 - reply

    Hi Curtis, Emily and the rest of the team,

    I just wanted to give you all a thumbs up for your terrific work.

    I am currently in the producing a Knowledge Base for my company; this blog has been a goldmine for me as well as MailChimp’s publicly available and free of rights Tone of Voice guidelines.

    It’s really awesome to see you addressing topics that might not be the most popular but are really of importance, for us Docmakers.

    I am no customer but I must admit I’m really impress by the whole MailChimp’s approach, the investment that is made in the brand.

    Keep it up guys!

    • Curtis Cotsonis

      01.27.2017 - reply

      Thanks for the kind words, Brice! We take pride in sharing our work and are glad you like what we’re doing. Expect more in the future!