Bilingual Call Centers: Why You Need One, What You Need to Know

Bilingual Outsourcing ServicesThe answer seems obvious: Bilingual call center reps are necessary when you have customers that speak something other than English as their first language. This is especially true if you have a large customer base that doesn’t speak English or is not proficient in it. But not all businesses consider the complexity of bilingual customer service needs. Here’s what you need to know to find an outsourcing company that can meet your language requirements.

The Need for Bilingual Outsourcing Services

According to the US Census Bureau, around 350 different languages are spoken in homes throughout America. Typically, the language people speak at home is the one they are comfortable with and most proficient in; they use it to express their most complex and intimate daily thoughts.

When stepping outside of this first language, many people are not able to communicate to the same degree and can experience frustration when trying to explain their needs or concerns.

By providing bilingual outsourcing customer service reps, companies can reap a number of benefits.

  • Customers are more comfortable calling in to speak to someone about a need or issue, reducing the chance that concerns will simmer into problems or crises without being solved.
  • Clients can communicate in a way they are comfortable, removing some anxiety from the process and helping to ensure more calls are resolved in a satisfactory manner.
  • Miscommunications due to language barriers are removed, which can also lead to calls being resolved more positively and quickly.

What Languages Should Your Outsourcing Partner Speak?

Aside from English, the most spoken languages in the United States are Spanish, various forms of Chinese, French, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean and German. These languages all have more than a million speakers in the US, with Spanish having the most by far at more than 37 million.

For general business purposes, if you’re only going to be able to support one of these languages, Spanish is likely the best choice. But you know your business best, so take time to review your customer data to determine which languages are most likely to be of the most help in supporting your clients.

Choosing a Company for Multilingual Customer Service

Once you know which languages you want to support, ask about them during the contracting process with a new outsourcing company. Don’t just ask what languages the inbound call center supports, as some inbound customer services will include a language on their lists even if the business only has a single employee who is conversational in it.

Instead, ask:

  • How many call representatives on average will be able to speak this language, or what percent of customer call representatives will be multilingual?
  • What does the call center provider consider proficiency? There’s a big difference between basic conversational proficiency and true fluency. Someone who has only learned enough to get directions when traveling, for example, is not going to be able to discuss a complex bill with a client or take an order for specialty products.
  • Do any supervisors or managers in the contact center speak this language so they can take escalation calls or ensure quality?

Taking these steps to identify your business’s bilingual customer service needs and asking the right questions to ensure an appropriate call center partnership go a long way toward ensuring client satisfaction in the future.