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Solving Staffing and Operational Challenges for Multilingual Contact Centers

Troubling Turnover Trends

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic put contact centers through the wringer. Overnight, governments around the world implemented mandates that required people and companies to change how we work, moving from in-office to fully-remote settings. As society continues to adapt to the new requirements and changes in sentiment, companies are required to quickly solve new staffing and operational challenges within an already convoluted contact center space.

Contact centers have a notoriously high attrition rate, with the Harvard Business Review citing turnover as high as 45 percent—twice the average turnover in other departments. Moreover, a 2022 NICE WEM Global Survey report research shows that this number grows to 50 percent when companies have more than 5,000 support agents.

Not surprisingly, the pandemic, coupled with the Great Resignation and Brexit, led to an even greater increase in customer service agent turnover, resulting in higher wait times and decreased customer satisfaction.

Focusing on the Employee Experience

To stifle rising attrition, contact center leaders have had to rethink their staffing strategies, particularly around hybrid and remote work. 

Traditionally, Business Process Outsourcing companies have established multiple in-person multilingual hubs in order to support their customers. While this model may have been barely manageable in the past, it’s not an ideal option in a post-pandemic world.

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With help agents being an essential element regarding the success of customer support operations, it is imperative to keep employee morale top of mind. Job satisfaction is critical for keeping employee productivity high and mitigating turnover—a key area of focus for CX leaders.

According to a survey conducted by IDC, 85 percent of employees agree that an improved employee experience and higher employee engagement leads to better CX, greater customer satisfaction, and higher revenues for their organization.

Workplace flexibility is one of the top factors that affect job satisfaction while having an inverse effect on attrition. And, according to the 2021 State of the Contact Center report, it’s anticipated that the flexible work environment trend is here to stay with 53 percent of agents working in a hybrid environment and 47 percent of agents working remotely.

Another great benefit of workplace flexibility: remote workers are proven to be more productive with one study conducted by Stanford showing a 13 percent increase in productivity. Happy days!

The Trouble with Hiring for Language

Developing effective retention strategies and investing in modern technology is key as the cost of hiring continues to climb. For contact centers supporting customers in different countries and languages, that cost is even higher when searching for candidates with bilingual skill sets. 

Along with macroeconomic conditions, as companies become even more attuned to the importance of providing native-language services to their customers, the demand (and cost) for bilingual workers are growing at a considerable rate. As stated in one RMS Recruitment article, the effects of Brexit have led to a continual decline of available bilingual workers in the UK. 

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Providing customer support in English only is not cutting it for many businesses in the UK. According to a study by the BBC and Indeed, 23 percent of executives believe native-language support for German and Mandarin Chinese will be important to their business in the next five years, and 20 percent say French and Spanish will be. The results of this study highlight the importance of business growth in relation to native-language services. 

How do consumers respond to native language services? CSA Research found that on average, 7 out of 10 consumers favor purchasing goods and services through a company that provides information in their native language support compared to those that don’t—assuming support is offered in English. This number jumps to nearly 9 out of 10 for consumers who are not sufficiently comfortable communicating in English.

A study from the European Commission shows that one-third of employers have difficulties filling positions due to applicants lacking foreign language competencies.

The Future of Multilingual CX

Businesses understand that supporting customers in their native language is important and customers want it; so, the big question is: how can companies harness the growth potential of providing native-language services with increasing cost and complexities of hiring bilingual speakers?

Forward-thinking companies have ditched the bilingual job requirement in favor of multilingual chat solutions. By investing in multilingual messaging solutions, a single agent is able to support multiple customers at one, in any language. Computer-generated interpretations provide companies a competitive edge while making it easier to scale into new markets. With technology bridging the language gap, companies are able to reduce operational costs and broaden their candidate pool by hiring for the right technical and communication skills rather than language.

Companies will need a comprehensive multilingual cloud contact center solution to upscale passable CX into great CX. By investing in multilingual software, contact centers are able to increase team retention by maintaining a flexible work environment, reducing hiring costs, and overcoming staffing and operational challenges, all the while retaining happy customers. Stay one step ahead of the competition by providing the key CX element of the future: real-time language translation.