Solutions to the Language Puzzle: Regional Contact Centers [Part 4]

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[Click here to read Part 1]
[Click here to read Part 2]
[Click here to read Part 3]

When brands announce new contact centers, it’s usually big news because of the jobs and financial commitments they represent.

It’s also known in the contact center industry that this is a well-traveled language strategy to get closer to specific sets of consumers. And the public news announcement follows years of careful planning to deliver local, regional, and/or international support.

Of the multilingual strategies this blog series has explored, opening regional contact centers is on the high-end of the language maturity curve simply because it requires more deliberation. Below are some considerations when going down this path:

  • Do you open your own operation or hire a business process outsourcer? If the former:
  • Where specifically do you locate the contact center?
  • How does the new contact center map to your global customer care strategy?
  • Will it require a separate, disparate communications platform due to regulatory requirements or agent console language limitations?
  • What channels will you support in the local contact center?

From a multilingual delivery standpoint, here are some key issues for brands to consider—with an emphasis on those opening in-country operations to deliver regional support:

It’s not just speaking the language(s)

In a previous blog about hiring multilingual agents, we emphasized that voice alone isn’t the multilingual priority. Given the rise of agent-assisted digital channels like chat, more important is the ability to communicate effectively across supported channels.  In many cases, speaking the language isn’t enough.

Customer service expectations vary country-to-country

Another nuance is that consumers’ service expectations vary from country to country. Rich Weborg, CEO at OneReach, describes a typical example in Japan. There, omotenashi, reins. In this concept, the service provider knows what’s best—the consumer is not always right.

What does this mean for contact centers going into Japan to provide pan-Asian support? This country-specific cultural norm needs to be carefully managed with non-Japanese consumers. Otherwise, it could have the opposite, unintended effect on CSAT, NPS and and loyalty.

Similar examples abound in Europe and Africa. Once the requisite language services talent is in place, training takes on added importance when opening new international operations—thus the phrase, “think globally, act locally.”

Our partners at Zendesk offer a country-by-country breakdown of customer satisfaction.

Channels vary too

The country-by-country variations also apply to channels. For example, in recapping the primarily US-centric Call Center Week Winter conference, CallCenterIQ said that attendees, “…are not excited by the prospect of introducing full-service, wholly monitored customer care on channels like Twitter and Facebook.”

Overseas, your contact center may need to prioritize and be more aggressive with social media. This could require rethinking your channel strategies and being prepared to adjust if necessary.  It could also force you to find agents with different skills, because social media, unlike voice, involves writing. Tone is important, and social care can potentially escalate to other channels.

A great social media resource is Socialbakers, which has broken down the importance of Twitter and Facebook by individual country.

Summary

Establishing in-country and in-region contact centers can be an effective language strategy. As with back-office resources, over-the-phone interpretation, and hiring bi/multilingual agents, there are pros and cons to in-region contact centers:

Pros

  • Getting closer to consumers is very customer-centric.
  • In-region contact centers can provide great access to language talent.
  • Cloud providers make this option easier from a technical standpoint.

Cons

  • Global expansion can be difficult for smaller brands without the financial resources that larger organizations have.
  • In-region contact centers can be costly to set-up.
  • Staffing can be difficult to forecast and scale (along with hiring and retaining agents).
  • Preparation is required for any necessary adjustments in channel support and agent training.

Understanding their pros and cons and knowing how to navigate any potential obstacles in advance will ensure success for your regional contact center. For more information, check out the whitepaper, Real-Time Omni-Lingual Care Comes of Age for Contact Centers.

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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