Contact Centers Need to Adopt Omni-Lingual Strategies [ICMI Report]

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New research from ICMI and Lionbridge finds omni-lingual channel support essential to meet growing language diversity demands and heightened consumer expectations.

Contact centers don’t deliver great customer experiences by mistake or incredible circumstance. They are meticulously designed, expertly planned, and beautifully delivered. For all of the challenges and advancements over the past decade, however, one topic has gone seemingly unaddressed and yet increases in importance year over year: the impact of language on the customer experience.

This is a key takeaway from new research released by the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) and Lionbridge. The two organizations partnered to understand the direction and data that would be necessary for contact center leaders to make informed decisions regarding their omni-channel multilingual support. More than 500 respondents from the United States, Canada, Australia, Asia, Europe, and South America participated in the largest study ever conducted on contact centers and languages.

The research results showed us that as organizations increase their global footprint and/or serve customers of all languages, they struggle to provide omni-lingual support for voice, much less self-service and digital channels.

This is clear from the data:

  • 79% of contact centers have customers who are not native speakers of the primary language(s) offered.
  • At least 60% of customers expect service in their native language when contacting a brand.
  • 52% of contact centers expect their volume of non-primary language communications to increase over the next three years.
  • The #1 way that contact centers provide customer service to customers who speak an unsupported language is to “simply apologize and attempt to handle in the agent’s primary language.”
  • Only 19% of organizations can support customers of any language by phone. The percentages decrease significantly when it comes to all other service channels.
  • One-fifth of contact centers don’t measure the quality of their non-primary language contacts.

The study also found that 57% of the organizations surveyed said they consider the ability to offer service in a customer’s native language across all contact channels to be a competitive differentiator.

That’s the opportunity for contact centers.

Download the executive report and use the insights to improve the quality of your customers’ experience and increase your effectiveness in serving a global customer base.

About the author

rsz_headshot_tom_tsekiTom Tseki is a contact center industry veteran. His experience and expertise include helping organizations implement and leverage omni-channel customer care strategies to improve CX, increase revenue, and gain contact center efficiencies.

He has a deep background in contact center technology as it relates to customer communication, analytics, and workforce optimization. Tom works closely with contact center and BPO leaders on strategies to improve care by reducing customer effort—leading to increased CSAT and NPS.

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