Today’s biggest brands—those that operate on an international scale—know that being able to speak various languages isn’t enough. To build a truly meaningful relationship with customers from a mix of cultures, they must embrace diversity and be able to demonstrate their capacity to do so.
Unfortunately, many companies become complacent with their multilingual capability that they fail to stress the importance of fostering effective intercultural communication. When agents know how to speak a language but aren’t familiar with culture-specific nuances, it can result in grave disasters. They could end up accidentally offending a customer, which greatly harms the customer experience. Leaving this unresolved could lead to customer churn and a tainted brand reputation.
Through cultural awareness trainings, a bilingual call center can significantly improve the quality of agent–customer conversations.
Why being bilingual isn’t enough
The line that separates bilingualism (or multilingualism) and biculturalism (and multiculturalism) has always been clearly defined. The former is concerned solely about languages. The latter, on the other hand, focuses on one’s familiarity with a culture’s unique traditions, communication-related practices, and behaviors.
When brands show that they appreciate and understand their customers’ cultural background, they appear trustworthy. They’re able to build relationships based on trust, and this persuades customers to stay loyal to the brand.
Cultural sensitivity and the customer experience
Aside from fostering customer loyalty, demonstrating cultural awareness also makes interactions more memorable. This has never been more important, as there’s an ever-growing need for companies to differentiate themselves from competitors. One way to do this is to provide a high-quality customer service that surpasses people’s expectations.
Culturally aware agents improve the customer’s experience mainly by making conversations smooth-sailing and conflict-free. With less risk of misunderstandings, issues are thus resolved faster. This is beneficial not only for customers but also for the bilingual call center, as faster resolution translates to higher productivity.
Designing a cultural sensitivity training
The basic parts of this training program are:
• a discussion of cultural characteristics;
• language lessons; and
• unacceptable expressions.
But apart from these key areas, your program must target the needs of your agents and the customer. Thus, it pays to collect insights to make the training more effective. Ask your customer service reps what areas they need to improve upon so you can tackle them in the training sessions. You may also ask customers about their expectations so you can strategize on how to achieve them.