Shifting consumer expectations are putting more pressure on brands to provide seamless and relevant customer experiences. Tom Tseki, Vice President and General Manager, GeoFluent & Customer Care Solutions at Lionbridge explores how contact centers can adapt and meet customer needs by incorporating omni-lingual support into their strategies
In today’s shifting technological landscape, the expectations that consumers have when interacting with a brand are constantly changing. Voice has given way to self-service, and consumers are counting on real-time or near real-time service. At the same time, consumers increasingly prefer to learn, shop and transact in their native language and expect that brands communicate with them in that way. In fact, a recent study from Common Sense Advisory showed that 84 percent of consumers are more inclined to purchase products online when related information was presented in their own language.
This change in consumer behavior is also forcing brands and their contact centers to look at new and innovative ways to create quality customer experiences (CX) – and it all starts with language. A recent study from Lionbridge and the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) found that a majority of contact center leaders are aware that customers expect to receive service in their native language when contacting a brand. However, 79 percent of contact centers have customers who are not native speakers of the primary language(s) that they serve. In addition, voice is no longer the prominent channel for customer support which has paved the way for a slew of new channel and language support options.
To manage all of this successfully, contact centers should deploy strategic and scalable approaches that incorporate full omni-lingual support to reach customers regardless of time or geographic location. These strategies must take cultural nuances and preferences into account in order for brands to remain competitive in today’s global marketplace.
Giving Customers More Options When They Need It
Language is perhaps the most important component for contact centers to have control over in effectively communicating with their customers. ICMI reports that language diversity is projected to increase over the next three years, with 52 percent of contact centers expecting the volume of non-primary language communications to increase over this time. As a result, contact centers must utilize new strategies to support non-primary language speaking customers.
While providing diverse language support is essential, it must also go hand-in-hand with multichannel support. A recent Forrester report shows that consumers as a whole no longer prefer voice – with 76 percent of respondents using company FAQ websites and 58 percent preferring online chat options. To address this, brands need to provide strategic support across all channels and languages to provide quality CX, including:
- Self-service channels: Forrester reports that consumers are more likely to visit a website before picking up a phone, which is further heightened among the millennial generation who expect self-service options. Online chat is a critical component of effective online customer engagement; consumers are likely to abandon an online purchase if they are unable to find a resolution to their answer or can’t pursue a live chat option. As a result, savvy brands must provide self-service channels, from chat to forum/community and mobile support. These channels also need to be enabled with omni-lingual capabilities to benefit the widest group of customers possible. If the majority of content is presented in only a single or select group of languages, the channel isn’t helping non-primary speakers.
- 24/7 support: As always-on, connected customers increasingly expect 24/7 service from anywhere, contact centers must reach customers in new ways, such as mobile and social, in real-time. By enabling diverse channel options coupled with comprehensive language support, brands can reduce the amount of overall inbound calls to their contact centers, saving precious dollars while enhancing the overall customer experience.
- Globalization strategies: Global markets are becoming increasingly diverse and connected, and the distinction between domestic and global is shrinking. As a result, even companies that don’t plan to expand geographically must manage their contact centers accordingly by creating plans to support their customers across all languages.
- Journey streamlining: To better understand customer interactions and reduce overall customer effort, contact centers are looking to customer journey mapping. However, these are typically done in primary languages, which leads to challenges down the road for non-primary language speaking customers. As a result, progressive companies must extend journey mapping, planning and measurement to non-primary languages.
The contact center marketplace is going through a significant transformation, and it will likely continue to grow in complexity. Today’s contact centers must evolve their strategies and focus on self-service channels, 24/7 support, globalization strategies and journey streamlining to provide both omni-channel channel options and language support. The result is new opportunities for brands to engage and align with today’s digitally-savvy and demanding customers and further drive brand loyalty.