Multi-Lingual Customer Support

Multi-Lingual Customer Support

20 July 2017

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One of the most crucial elements in running a successful contact centre is providing excellent customer service and support. This often means going above and beyond; investing in new systems; delivering up to date training and employing high calibre candidates in order to meet the needs of your customers. However, recent research has shown that there is one aspect missing from all of this: Multi-lingual support services.

The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) recently conducted a large study of the multi-lingual market within contact centre services. Its findings can be pared down the following key points:

  • 79% of contact centres have customers who are not native speakers of the primary language(s) that they serve.
  • At least 60% of customers expect service in their native language when contacting a brand.
  • 52% of contact centres expect their volume of non-primary language communications to increase over the next three years.
  • Only 19% of organisations can support customers in any language over the phone.
  • The number way that contact centres provide customer service to customers that speak an unsupported language is to “simply apologise and attempt to handle in the agent’s primary language.”

Investing in multi-lingual support staff is an investment in the future, as travel and immigration make it easier for people to live and work all over the world. For any business, it’s also crucial that their customers, for whom English is not their first language, are able to speak to advisors who can provide help.

There are approximately 100 different languages spoken in the UK alone, including Portuguese, Turkish and Mandarin Chinese. That amounts to over 4 million UK residents whose primary language is not English. Contact centres should view hiring multi-lingual support as giving them a competitive edge - since only 40% of UK centre provide support in languages other than English.

Studies have also shown that consumers are more likely to return to a business who are, quite literally, speaking their language. In February 2017, the UK exported £21.7 billion worth of goods to EU and non-EU countries. Therefore, multi-lingual after-sales support becomes an incredibly valuable asset to a business. Indeed, the ICMI confirmed that 86% of UK contact centres receive non-English calls.

I can’t imagine anything more frustrating than needing technical advice and not being able to understand what I was being instructed to do. Hiring multi-lingual staff also prevents feelings of frustration and helplessness on an employee’s behalf, if they are unable to accurately assist a customer owing to a language barrier.

Language is at the heart of providing more personalised and relevant interactions with customers – two musts for modern contact centres. This should ensure a more positive experience that satisfies all the customer’s needs. There is nothing more irritating than being left on hold or being passed from one advisor to another.

The most common ways that contact centres address language barriers include back office resources (a native speaker who isn’t a part of the organisation but is ultilised on an ad hoc basis), over-the-phone interpretation or actually having in-region contact centres.

Surely, the most cost-effective solution (and the one most likely to result in happy, loyal customers) is to hire multi-lingual advisors who are capable of providing support when it is required.

If you would like to recruit talent within the multi-lingual contact centre market, I’d love to help you. Click here to see my contact details to discuss your staffing needs.




Written By Chris Milne


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