CRM for Multilingual Customers: Breaking Down the Language Barriers

1 Jul, 2002

By: Melanie Coto

Before the economic downturn, the thought on CRM initiatives was full-steam ahead. “Implement the technologies; conduct more training sessions.” Now, more companies are scrutinizing their CRM initiatives, asking the hard questions up front, nailing down returns on CRM investments and making sure those investments maximize customer satisfaction. When prioritizing and making CRM investment decisions, the need for servicing multilingual customers emerges near the top of the list. Companies need to consider breaking down the language barriers and capitalizing on the revenue potential of this diverse and growing market in a cost-effective manner.

It’s no secret that America is home to more than 35 million people with little or no English-speaking abilities. According to the Census 2000, more than 30 percent of Americans were born in another country. An even more staggering statistic: As many as 250 languages are spoken in the United States. Many companies have considered the purchasing power of these cultures and how aggressively their members should be pursued.

The multilingual marketplace is rapidly evolving, offering viable revenue opportunities that require a competitive marketing strategy. Companies that cater to various ethnicities and languages can reap a return on building and managing these customer relationships with a total view to their unique requirements. These companies stand a much better chance of establishing and retaining the loyalty of these special market segments if the center provides sales, service or support specialties that communicate cultural awareness and fulfill their language requirements on demand.

Today, companies are figuring out how to marry their CRM strategies and initiatives with “talking one’s talk” and learning more about how each culture does business. Forward-thinking companies have taken the multilingual plunge and now communicate with these cultures through the convenience of telephone language service, more popularly known as “over-the-phone interpreting” (OPI).

OPI service providers offer real-time language services that enable their clients to communicate with customers and prospects with varying language needs from anywhere in the world. By calling a toll-free number, companies can access qualified interpreters in seconds and proceed with a three-way conference call between themselves, a non-English-speaking customer and an interpreter.

The optimal OPI service provider employs CRM technologies and processes to achieve its clients’ customer retention objectives. The best OPI contact centers offer quality monitoring options and enabling technology such as CTI to facilitate rapid interpreter connect times.

When considering OPI providers to fulfill the multilingual-centric focus in their CRM initiatives, organizations should consider partnering with one that has prioritized investment in the continual training and development of their interpreters. Whether the industry is health care or financial services, the OPI service provider should emphasize interpreter development. This supports the underlying philosophy of CRM by integrating interpreter expertise as “one view” with language abilities, phone demeanor, customer service skills, and specific industry knowledge. It’s practicing business in a multilingual, flexible, scalable CRM model.

If you’re improving your customer satisfaction levels, increasing market share, and lowering customer churn by breaking down the language barriers with your customers, you’re improving your company’s business. It’s pure CRM bliss. Most everyone gets it. However, some contact centers still toy with the concept of supporting multilingual customers in-house versus leveraging the many benefits and cost savings by using a OPI service provider.

The customer is the nucleus of all CRM strategies and initiatives. A market strategy that captures the customer’s attention with a message that is communicated in the customer’s language achieves a multilingual focus. Traditional CRM strategy includes organization, people, skills, technology and measurement. An integral part of this model should include multilingual services and cultural support to meet the demands of a global economy.

A balanced multilingual CRM strategy achieves both cost advantages and quality service delivery. Partnering with a quality-driven OPI service provider offers companies an opportunity to better manage their multilingual customer relationships and realize profit-yielding returns from their multilingual CRM initiatives. A quality-driven OPI service provider promotes CRM by demonstrating high-value interpretation expertise, cultural intelligence and client industry knowledge at attractive price points. Companies that focus on continuously improving customer service can leverage the quality and cost benefits of OPI to raise their CRM standards to the next level—and break down the language barriers.

About the Author

Melanie Coto