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Do you Speak my Language? The Importance of a Multilingual Contact Center

By: Bill Bute on April 7th, 2015

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Do you Speak my Language? The Importance of a Multilingual Contact Center


Moreover, the world has become a very small and well-connected place with the rise of the internet, making it realistic that all size organizations will deal with people from around the globe. As a result, multilingual call centers are no longer a luxury for the best funded organizations, but a necessity for public and private sector groups of any size.

What Callers Expect

More and more consumers are expecting your customer service team to speak their language. After all, would we feel disenfranchised and out of place if we tried to reach someone and had no way of effectively communicating? Open access in all channels is becoming a mandated issue for many government agencies and NGOs often tasked with helping those who require assistance.  After English, Spanish is the second most common language spoken in the US and individuals speaking Spanish are the fastest growing minority group As a result, it is no surprise that Spanish is the most widely taught non-English language in U.S. schools. In fact, 37,579,787 (12%) of people in the U.S. consider themselves fluent in Spanish, and as many as one third have some basic knowledge of the language. And it doesn’t just stop with the language, there are over 10 dialects to consider.

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And it is not just Spanish, did you know that French is the fifth most common language spoken in the United States, with 1,301,443 fluent speakers? French is also one of the two official languages of Canada. But, how many call centers have fluent French speakers on staff? What about Chinese or Tagalog, the third and fourth most popular languages in America? While your customer base may not deal with some of these languages, should you ignore them all? Is there a better choice

Should you Have a Multilingual Call Center?

There are options for a contact center to consider. We have found that hiring bi-lingual can be a good solution if #1) one of the two languages is English and #2) they speak English well enough to communicate with English speaking customers. English-Spanish is the most common combination for obvious reasons. We add other languages based on the demographics of the client’s customer base. To be economically feasible, there needs to be a large enough population of customers or other compelling reason to add languages. We work very closely with our customers to decide when to expand languages for them. In our centers you will find English speaking agents also speaking Russian, French, Chinese, Polish and even Amharic languages.

Translation services are also available and reasonably priced for those rare, non-supported languages in a center. Sharing agents with this talent is another way to lower cost while expanding the languages you can service. Outsourcers like GCS with multiple sites often have staff that can be used in a shared environment with the client’s permission. At GCS, we have the personnel, knowledge, and experience to hire and manage the contact center staff fluent in the languages your customers want to hear.

If you are ready to make a change, to upgrade your customer service with more languages and options, reach out to us. One of our experts will be happy to share information about how we have helped other organizations cost effectively manage their needs in a multilingual world.

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