Multilingual contact centres facing challenges recruiting language capabilities


Research released today by the CCMA (Call Center Management Association) highlights the difficulty multilingual contact centers face in recruiting advisers who may have multiple local language skills.

Most contact centers require their employees to operate via voice and email, and increasingly other digital channels, such as live text chat and WhatsApp. This requires front-line colleagues to be sufficiently capable in both spoken and written language. It can be difficult to find people with the necessary language skills to work in a multilingual contact center outside of your home country.

This finding is taken from the latest CCMA research’CX and operational fluency for multilingual contact centers’, produced by the UK’s leading association representing the UK call and contact center industry. Powered by multilingual messaging provider ChatLingual, the research uncovers the success factors and challenges in setting up and running an effective multilingual contact center operation.

“Most organizations serving customers in multiple countries have settled on a central hub model with a multilingual workforce,” explains Stephen Yap, director of research at CCMA. “This model is more popular than keeping separate local teams in the country due to the consistency and oversight that centralization offers. However, recruiting people who can speak and write the local languages ​​at a native level is proving difficult in the current environment, particularly for certain Northern European languages ​​such as German, Dutch and Nordic languages.”

“Over the past two years, we’ve seen a huge increase in customer demand for native language support and a shrinking supply of workers available to meet this growing need,” says ChatLingual CEO Justin Custer. “Fortunately, rapid advances in translation technology have enabled forward-thinking companies to improve their hiring practices, focusing on customer service skills rather than limiting hiring options with language requirements. The shift to multilingual messaging solutions is transforming the contact center space for the better. CCMA’s research has provided exciting insights into how multilingual contact centers can simplify their operations while providing a higher level of personalized customer experience.”

Research reveals 10 key considerations for multilingual CX and contact center operations:

  1. The central hub model tends to be more popular for multilingual contact centers due to consistency, awareness, cost, and scale.
  2. Operating in multiple languages ​​adds complexity and management overhead.
  3. Consider BPO partners that centrally run multilingual operations.
  4. Reach out to language communities and social networks to recruit expats, students, and other natives outside of your home country.
  5. It can be difficult to recruit people who are not only native speakers but also have the required level of writing skill to be effective when multi-skilled.
  6. Hiring native language skills requires a longer lead time due to the additional need to validate language ability.
  7. Natives from Northern Europe, such as the Dutch, Germans and Nordics, are difficult to recruit abroad.
  8. Multilingual chatbots can be used to handle conversations and escalate to a live conversation when needed.
  9. The use of translation technology can create resource flexibility, reduce costs, and increase uptime, but like any automation, it needs care in selection and implementation.
  10. Cultural nuances in different countries can affect your operations and staffing strategies.

The research can be downloaded for free from the CCMA website:

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