Growing Pains: Multilingual Service Desk Challenges and Insights from FUSION 17

When Lionbridge launched GeoFluent for Enterprise Service Management, we had the goal of eliminating language as a communications barrier between service/help desks and their myriad of stakeholders. At the HDI and itSMF FUSION Conference that took place last week in Orlando, we were reminded of a challenge that many organizations face.

Earlier this year, Lionbridge and HDI conducted a survey of nearly 400 service and helpdesks to understand how they provide multilingual support. At FUSION, HDI’s Roy Atkinson joined me to share insights and recommendations from that research.

In the audience was a bilingual speaker from the US-arm of a global energy company. Her organization’s approach to global support is to provide help in English only. Unfortunately for her, it’s well known that she speaks Portuguese. Even though she’s not a support analyst, her Portuguese-speaking colleagues in Brazil reach out to her any time they need help from the company’s English-speaking support desk.

Her frustration is understandable and caused by the inefficiencies that in her company’s case English-only support creates:

  • She spends too much of her time helping bridge language gaps
  • Portuguese-speaking employees struggle to get help
  • The service desk is passing their ineffectiveness and inefficiencies onto other departments

The message from her experience is that non-English speaking employees will find ways around English-only support. Providing support in a single language only works when companies are small or have made the talent-limiting decision that all employees must speak a particular language in order to work there. As organizations grow, that system falls apart and limits the talent companies can hire. No one benefits – not the service desk nor the employees.

More options exist than ever before to help organizations provide multilingual support and Lionbridge offers these best practices to eliminate language as a communications barrier.