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New Report: Few Contact Centers Adequately Address Omni-Lingual Support

By Paula Bernier May 11, 2016

Contact centers are ill prepared to meet the rising tide of non-primary language requirements, according to a new report by The International Customer Management Institute and Lionbridge Technologies Inc.


That’s a problem that needs to be understood and addressed, according to the study, because 79 percent of contact centers serve non-native speakers. And 52 percent of contact centers expect volume from this group to increase going forward, according to the study, for which researchers polled 526 contact center and customer service professionals.

Yet the report, called “Lost in Translation: Leveraging Language to Deliver an Exceptional Customer Experience”, says organizations working to increase their global footprints and/or serve customers who speak various languages are struggling to provide omni-lingual support for voice. It also indicates that multi-lingual support for digital channels and self-service face the same kind of issues.

Here are a few of the other statistics the report unearthed:

  • nearly 20 percent of the survey group provide a scripted response but make no further attempt to support non-native speaking contact center customers;
  • 20 percent of contact centers fail to measure the quality of contact center interactions with non-primary language callers; and
  • 32 percent informally identify a contact center worker to do translation or take calls for non-native speakers.

So what’s the answer?

ICMI and Lionbridge suggest that contact centers consider looking beyond the use of in-house agents who provide scripted responses and implement additional resources that can support non-native language speaking customers. It indicates contact centers could support these customers by erecting processes and resources to address their needs rather than ignoring them or handling them in an ad hoc manner. And it points to the importance of measuring the quality of these interactions so they can effectively manage them.

"This landmark research shows that omni-lingual support is the new battleground for contact centers," said Tom Tseki, vice president and general manager for GeoFluent and Customer Care Solutions at Lionbridge. "With voice giving way to self-service and agent-assisted digital channels, contact centers should evolve their language support. Providing over-the-phone interpretation as the primary multilingual support option is no longer effective and positions brands as laggards in terms of CX." 




Edited by Stefania Viscusi

Executive Editor, TMC

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