3810679130_fbb7494d7b_zToday’s contact centers have evolved into full-service, multi-channel solutions for businesses with a growing customer base. Customer needs and communication preferences have required the expansion of communication methods, from phone calls, to email, to chat, to text, to social media messaging.

It is no secret that a successful contact center today is one in which customer needs are being seamlessly met through multiple communication channels. And according to an Ebiquity survey in 2013, 74% of consumers say they are more likely to spend more with a company that provides excellent service. Clearly, effective and efficient communication is key in customer satisfaction.

Why go bilingual?

How is clear and effective communication in customer service affected by a global market? What if your company does not have a global presence? Is providing bilingual customer service agents still necessary when your company is US-based? According to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), more than 1 in 5 speaks a foreign language at home, and of those, 41% report speaking english less than very well.

So regardless of your company’s global or state-side presence, providing multi-language customer service is essential in anticipation of meeting the needs to your growing customer base, and in the interest of giving excellent service to bolster your bottom line.

Know your market

Take a look at the US hispanic market, for example. Estimates of $1.5 trillion in buying power this year puts the US hispanic market on the radar of every fortune 500 company. A recent Google Consumer Survey found that most companies saw 11-25% of their company’s growth coming from this demographic in the next 3-5 years.

This is particularly true in the technology sector. And if technology is not your brand, consider becoming more mobile-centric, drive ROI in mobile specific ways in order to serve this growing demographic.

Increase your talent pool

Knowing the potential for growth in bilingual markets makes the small investment in bilingual agent skills worth it. Most companies compensate bilingual agents for their language skills by an average %5 pay increase. Look for agents that are fluent in english as well as another language. This allows your agents the flexibility of taking calls in either of their fluent languages and increases their value to your company. Increase your agent talent pool and hire bilingual agents regardless of whether you currently service their other language or not. Should your customer base expand to more diverse demographics in the future, you will have language skills already available to you.

Understand culture

When in the hiring process, ensure that your agents meet strict guidelines in language competency in both english and their other fluent language. Look for an outsourced call center that has very high standards in language fluency testing. Also look for management that has an intimate knowledge about the culture of the demographics you are serving, then provide any cultural training necessary to your newly hired bilingual staff.

Knowing the language of your customers is only part providing excellent service. Understanding proper etiquette in your clientele’s culture helps agents provide an intimate and respectful customer service experience, leaving your customers feeling valued and engendering their loyalty to you.