Creating a platform where your customers feel safe and welcome isn't just the right thing to do--it's good business.
That's according to Neha Utkur and Aarti Ashok, software engineering manager and senior manager at PayPal, respectively. The two spoke about building inclusive platforms at the Grace Hopper Celebration, an annual gathering for women in tech, named for the famed computer scientist and U.S. Navy officer.
In PayPal's case, the fintech giant has users in more than 200 countries, which means it has a huge range of locations, languages, and cultures of which it needs to be mindful. "One of PayPal's core values is to be able to democratize financial services for all," says Ashok, "regardless of where you're from or what your background, gender, race, or country."
Here's are three takeaways for business owners from the session.
1. Greet your customers differently based on their location.
Users will feel most comfortable using your platform if it addresses them in ways they're familiar with, says Ashok. Users in Germany and Japan, for example, prefer more formal language than users in the U.S. So PayPal tailors the language that users see on its websites and apps accordingly.
"The content can be personalized not just based on the location, but based on age, education, and a bunch of other things--data is credibly obtained from the users," says Ashok.
2. Add extra layers of customization based on language and region.
Tailoring language to users in different locations isn't as simple as a direct translation. As Utkur points out, an English speaker in the U.S. has a different way of speaking than an English speaker in India or the United Kingdom. Plus, terms that are perfectly acceptable in some regions can be offensive in others.
As such, PayPal collects geographic and language information from its users and customizes what they see accordingly. "[The platform] can figure out, 'Hey, this request is coming from a Portuguese speaker from Brazil," says Utkur. "So I need to get the market data and the content specific to Portuguese in Brazil and not Portuguese in Portugal."
3. Require verification for all accounts.
When users can be anonymous, it becomes much easier for them to behave badly on your website, whether that means trying to con other customers or using offensive terms in their user names. That's why it's critical to ask new users to verify their identities with email addresses. As a fintech company, PayPal takes further steps to verify its users' identities, such as requesting financial information. Verifying identities isn't a perfect solution for preventing misbehavior, says Utkur, but it will weed a lot of bad actors and make your platform safer and more inclusive for your users.