Language barriers hinder clear and effective communication, often leaving employees unable to resolve the customer’s problem.
What’s your plan for handling calls or providing information to limited-English proficient (LEP) clients and customers who speak a language other than English?
We want to help you empower your employees to confidently guide non-English speaking callers to the resources they need from your company. We gathered data about the 25 million LEP people across the US, including their expectations for multilingual customer support. From there, we’ve outlined potential solutions businesses can implement to offer better language services, including how to select the right provider for your needs.
Language BarriersStep 2:
Interpretation SolutionsStep 4:
Translation SolutionsStep 5:
Select a VendorStep 6:
Step 1: Language Barriers
Risks You May Encounter Without Language Services
When a non-English speaking client or customer needs assistance or information but cannot can’t communicate their needs to your representatives or understand the materials, it can cause several issues:
You may wonder how much the LEP population can impact your business—check out the research data.
Step 2: Research Data
How the LEP population impacts businesses
Your company may not recognize the limited-English proficient (LEP) population’s impact on revenue. Consider these stats:
More than 25 million people across the US speak English less than “very well,” meaning LEP people make up 9% of the US population.
(US Census Bureau)
• Note: These numbers don’t include global audiences you may try to reach
Given a choice between buying two similar products, 76% of customers will choose the one with information in their native language.
In addition, 40% will never buy from websites in other languages. (CSA Research)
Around 71.5% of customer service leaders claim a boost in customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) when they connect in the customer’s native language.
However, only 19% of the surveyed customer contact centers offer support in multiple languages. (ICMI)
- In addition, a survey by Intercom resulted in the following data:
- 29% of businesses say they’ve lost customers because they don’t offer multilingual support
- 70% of end-users say they feel more loyal to companies that provide support in their native language
- 62% of customers are more likely to tolerate problems with a product if they can interact with support in their native language
- 58% of customers would be willing to wait longer for customer support if it was available in their native language
It’s safe to say offering customer service and written communication in multiple languages can help you connect better with non-English-speaking consumers. So how can you implement better language services? Let’s review potential solutions.
Step 3: Interpretation Solutions
Solution 1: Hiring bilingual employees
Some companies hire bilingual employees to help them communicate with limited-English proficient (LEP) customers. While it can be convenient to have multilingual employees, you’ll need to consider how job duties may change, how you’ll measure language and interpreting skills, and more before committing to this solution.
You’ll also need to examine whether the benefits of hiring bilingual employees outweigh any disadvantages.
According to survey results from Intercom, 85% of support managers say it’s challenging to find reps who speak more than one language.
Did you know?
CyraCom offers a Language Proficiency Assessment in more than 45 languages, which is an easy way to determine how well someone speaks their second language. The assessment uses the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) standards, a US federal organization that coordinates and shares information about language-related activities. We also offer an Interpreter Skills Assessment, which is available in more than 20 languages.
Solution 2: Partnering with a language services provider
Businesses can improve customer service performance metrics by working with a language services provider (LSP). Investing in phone interpretation performed by qualified professionals saves you the hassle of recruiting, hiring, assessing, and retaining bilingual employees. Plus, you can:
Offer more languages as needed
Hiring bilingual employees can help you serve customers who speak the same language, but how will you help those who speak less-common languages? Working with an LSP gives you access to interpreters as needed, meaning you can reduce fixed costs.
Improve brand loyalty through multilingual customer service
Forbes reports that poor customer service costs businesses more than $75 billion a year and that 67% of customers have become “serial switchers”—customers willing to switch brands because of a poor customer experience. For a company that provides good service, 66% of customers would be more loyal, 65% would be willing to recommend the company to others, and 48% would spend more money.
Retaining existing customers can be easier when you provide exceptional service in customers’ preferred language. 75% of CSA Research survey respondents said they’re more likely to purchase the same brand again if customer care is in their language.
Boost performance metrics
In an ICMI survey, 79% of contact centers have customers who aren’t native speakers of their primary languages. Unclear communication can automatically reduce your employees’ ability to offer support and resolve customers’ issues. Implementing language services can help you improve first-call resolution (FCR), average handling time (AHT), and customer satisfaction scores (CSAT).
- ICMI partnered with us (formerly our subsidiary Voiance) to determine that after introducing a language interpretation service, FCR, AHT, and overall quality were positively affected by 36%, 20%, and 32%, respectively.
- 71.5% of customer service leaders claim that support in a native language increases satisfaction.
Step 4: Translation Solutions
In addition to interpretation, you may want to consider translating and localizing written materials such as website content, informative brochures, video captioning, and more. To follow OSHA guidelines, translating safety materials can help you stay compliant.
According to CSA Research:
- 65% of surveyed customers prefer content in their language, even if it’s poor quality
- 73% want product reviews in their language if nothing else
Professional human translators localize your text to help ensure clear communication. They convert your text into another language using your intended meaning rather than simply translating it word-for-word. Working with an LSP for document or website translation can take longer than using an employee or risky machine translation, but you can better avoid alienating potential customers.
Plus, CSA’s Article “Fortune 500 Companies that Invest in Translation Report Higher Revenue” notes that expanding translation budgets made businesses 1.5 times more likely to report an overall revenue increase.
If you choose to use qualified, professional interpreters and translators, you’ll need to select the right LSP for your needs. Don’t worry—we’ve got the information you need to make your selection.
Step 5: Select a Vendor
With many options available for interpretation and translation services, how do you choose the best one to work with? Vet potential LSPs by asking questions about the following topics:
If you’re required to hire vendors through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process, check out this article for additional information.
Step 6: Best Practices
Here are several best practices you can implement for handling non-English calls:
CyraCom is a leading language services provider with over 25 years’ experience helping businesses like yours connect with new customers. We offer free consultations – contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org today to learn how language services can help you grow your business.
Whether you’re expanding to reach new, multilingual audiences or need better support for the LEP customers you currently have, you need the ability to communicate clearly and effectively.