As one of the most renowned call centre outsourcing companies, managing outsourced customer service for 100s of clients, we understand the pressure customer service agents are under to satisfy the customer in every call. This, more often than not, involves providing an instant result or alleviating the customer’s apprehensions. There are times when this task becomes impossible and the caller utters the most dreaded words in a call centre - ‘let me speak to your manager”.
This could occur in two scenarios. In the first instance, the customer could make the request as soon as the call is connected. In the second, the conversation descends to a juncture where the customer feels that they only to resolve an issue is to speak to a superior in the call centre outsourcing companies. Whether the request was made escalating request was made immediately or subsequently, it lands the call centre agent in a dilemma on what course to take - comply with customer’s request immediately and disrupt the manager, which also puts a question mark on his ability to handle complex scenarios or try to change customer’s mind which can also backfire and may further infuriate the customer. On the other hand, with the right skills and judgement, the call centre agent can handle the situation at his end.
Most of the call centre outsourcing companies hold extensive training, mock sessions and case studies to train their call centre agents on how to handle such scenarios. This post explores the ways to do so.
A call center agent cannot solve a problem if the customer refuses to explain it. He simply demands to speak to the manager. This implies that whatever led to the demand was a pre-existing condition before the phone conversation started in the first place. The task is to decipher the preceding conditions leading to the present call. For esclation handling, call centre outsourcing companies should first and formost train their call center agents on how to get the customer to open up? To begin with, call center agent should acknowldge that the caller is upset and politely ask somethig like ‘Sir, I understand that you are upset and I am guessing it is because somewhere we failed to meet your expecations…’ Since you are already admitting the responsibility and showed that you are willing to understand his problem, chances are that he will gradualy start explaining you the issue.
If the call centre agent successfully pulled off the step above, the customer would most likely tell him his grouse with the company or its product. The next step for the call centre agent would be to determine if the problem is one he can solve on your own or it indeed required a manager intervention. This is specially crucial if you outsource customer support to call centre outsourcing companies because this decision really depends on the level of authority that outsourced customer service agents have.
If the call centre agent can solve the problem without recourse to the manager, instead of telling the customer that you will be handling it, ask if he will allow you to resolve the issue for him. Hopefully, given the rapport you have built, the chances are that he would reply in affirmative but if he does not, it may be a good idea to pass on to the manger, that all call centre outsourcing companies usually have one board, without further insistence.
As much as you want to solve every problem, some customers are simply adamant and wouldn’t listen to your advice. For these kinds, the best option is to refer them to the manager the previously requested for. However, it’s best to offer to have the manager call them back. This gives the manager adequate time to understand the customer’s needs before taking the call and gives some time to the customer to cool down a little. Just make sure that you do keep your promise and call back is made. All call centre outsourcing companies managing outsourced customer service should always have a manager on duty for such escalation calls.
A major issue in call centre outsourcing companies is that managers are spending a major chunk of their time handling escalations calls rather than improving performance. While this advice is directed towards call centre outsourcing companies rather than to individual agents, it is an effective way of dealing with escalation. It would be best for the call centre outsourcing companies to have a dedicated team of experts for dealing with call escalation. These individuals should work directly with the managers to ensure that the right answers are given to customers
This is where the demand for the manager isn’t immediate. This can be particularly demoralizing for reps of call centre outsourcing companies because it indicates that the customer has lost confidence in the prospect of the call. There are several reasons why the customer could make the request in this instance. Some of the prominent reasons are as follows:
The appropriate solution when this occurs is to immediately transfer the call to an adequate manager. But, it would be important to understand how to avoid this situation.
The following are ways to do so:
Agents of call centre outsourcing companies need to understand how to pick up cues from the customer’s tone. Before the customer demands to speak with a superior, there must have been subtle cues in the conversation that helps the rep discover where the customer is at. If the tone of the customer shows frustration, you should immediately empathize with him and quickly give positive assurances.
This tip is more important for agents of call centre outsourcing companies. Because such a rep doesn’t work at the company, he needs to go the extra mile to understand the business and key components of the company. Consequently, when he speaks to the customer, the knowledge gap isn’t evident. There should also be constant knowledge refresher about processes in the company.
It’s instructive to have a checklist at the back of your mind when speaking to a customer. The conversation with the customer should progress according to that checklist. Hence, when you fail to make progress, you can quickly guide the customer to the intended end. This checklist should be flexible depending on the purpose of the call and the customer’s needs. Call centre outsourcing companies should hold mock calls during training sessions so that agents can prepare themselves.
At LiveSalesman, we understand how to manage conversations. Our representatives understand the psychology of dealing with all kinds of customer and would ensure that the escalation rate is reduced to the barest minimum. If you are looking to outsource customer support, get in touch with us.
Publish Date: March 10, 2019 5:00 AM
Being a pioneer of technology and innovation, Japan surely knows a lot about doing things right. That includes customer service. But what surprises people most is how customer service adheres to a deeply rooted value system, in an otherwise tech-savvy and futuristic country.
Understanding and implementing the fundamental principles of this value system is key for Japanese call centers to drive customer retention and loyalty.
Let’s dive into the Japanese way of serving customers.
The word ‘Omotenashi‘ is commonplace in Japan. While it has several different definitions, Omotenashi indicates excellent hospitality – looking after a guest with wholehearted care and commitment.
Customer service in Japan is based on the spirit of Omotenashi and hence needs to be inculcated in Japanese call center. It’s not just about providing great service, but doing it earnestly and passionately. Japanese customer service agents should take every call with equal heart and haly greeting and should assist each and every customer sincerely and enthusiastically. In your Japanese call center, customers should be made to feel that you deserve their business.
Japanese don’t have a risk appetite. In Japan, one of the ways to standout is by showing that you are trustworthy. Customers here love doing business when they can trust your brand and have complete faith in your ability to solve their problems. Japanese customer service agents working in Japanese call centers, should, therefore, work on racking up goodwill and positive word-of-mouth marketing to positively influence customer retention and acquisition. One way to prove to customers that they are not taking any risk by choosing you over others is to show them how happy other customers are with your brand. Japanese customer service agents should highlight and emphasize on any ratings, accreditation or anything else your brand has to its credit to vindicate that you are a trustworthy brand with excellent track record.
In line with the spirit of Omotenashi, Japanese customers expect you to deliver high quality service with a shrewd eye for detail, consistently. This not only applies to the quality of your products or services but everything you including the quality of interactions that your Japanese customers agents have with them. Japanese call center should have strict quality measures to check all written and verbal communication and train their agents to check and double check everything before sending anything to Japanese customers in order to avoid any mistake or quality issues. Everything that reaches the customer should be perfectly presented, else they would strongly judge you based on the errors you make. Quality also extends to how your Japanese call center agents respond and action the feedback or inputs shared by the Japanese customers. If they feel that you are not receptive to feedback or have not speedily taken actions to fix the problem they pointed out, there are very good chances that they will not continue giving you any further business. Playing the blame game and not taking ownership of your shortcomings is not tolerated in Japanese culture and can’t be done in your Japanese call center.
The holy grail of all Japanese customer service rules that must be implemented in your Japanese call center: always acknowledge and make sure to reply to every phone call, social media message, email, or even fax as soon as possible, preferably within the same day.
While certain queries can be resolved quickly, others might take longer than expected. In such cases, it’s recommended that Japanese customer service agents communicate clearly to the customer about the delay. Keeping your customers in loop is seen as a sign of respect in the country.
For your not-to-list, never say an outright ‘No’ to customers. It is considered highly disrespectful to say that. No matter how eccentric or complex the customer request is, if your agents are going to let the customer know that this can’t be done, articulate it in a nicer and more positive way, not in a curt and unhelpful manner.
If you cater to Japanese customers, 24×7 Japanese call center is highly recommended. If there is a problem or if they have a question, Japanese customers expect to be able to get in touch with you anytime they need, even it is an unusual hour. It is not unusual in Japan to print personal mobile numbers and home phone numbers on their business cards. While you may not have to go that far, but you need to able to offer round the clock Japanese customer service. If that is not possible, at least make sure that there is an emergency contact procedure in place in your Japanese call center. In your Japanese call center, instead of relying on one communication channel, have multiple customer service channels. This ensures that even if one channel faces an outage or is busy, customers can still get in touch with your Japanese customer service agents and get solutions for their time-sensitive queries.
Being there for the customer round the clock, minimal waiting time, and putting the customer in touch with the right agent in as little time as possible are some ways in which you can make their experience seamless and win over hearts in your Japanese call center.
In a country that lays emphasis on consistent and high-quality service, missing out on deadlines is a guaranteed way to fail, something you need to continuously harp on in your Japanese call center. If your Japanese customer service agent provides customers with a deadline related to a particular query, they need to deliver on time. Not one or two days later. No excuses.
While people in many other countries are a bit tolerant towards deadlines, Japanese customers are absolutely strict about it. Not meeting deadlines shows that you do not value your customer’s time.
Expressing sincere and heartfelt gratitude towards the customer goes a long a way with Japanese customers. Thank you is a phrase that should be liberally used in your Japanese call center. Train your Japanese customer service agents to say thank you freely while communicating with customers. Japanese customers notice and appreciate when they receive a ‘thank you’ and reciprocate with loyalty, good reputation, word-of mouth publicity and repeat business. However, don’t fake ‘thank you’ just to get rewarded, you need to sound as you mean it. In Japan, culture is to service for the sake of giving, not with the expectation of receiving anything in return, essence of Japanese culture that you should inculcate in your Japanese customer service agents.
What’s quite surprising about Japan’s customer service culture is not the fact that it is excellent, but how it stays consistently excellent despite operating under strict rules. In case you didn’t know, the Japanese are firm followers of rules in all regards and this is a rule you need to follow in your Japanese call center. Since following rules is the thing, customization is thrown out the window. Expecting and accommodating exceptions and customization is not what Japanese know how to handle. What this means for your Japanese call centre? On one hand your Japanese customer service agents need not think about providing bespoke service based on individual needs but at the same time, they should not expect Japanese customers to do it either.
Similarly, for those who are not very familiar with Japanese language, Japanese has various levels of politeness and complex rules that decide which speech pattern is appropriate to be used in which scenario and the person you are talking with, something that should be an integral part of training in your Japanese call center, specially if your Japanese customer service agents are not native.
Over the years, we have delivered 24×7 Japanese Call Centre Services delivered by native Japanese Customer Service agents for many of our clients around the world and understand the nuances of it. We have over 18 years of experience in delivering Multilingual Call Centre services and Multilingual Customer Support. Apart from Japanese, we offer Chinese Call Center Services, Spanish call center services, French Call Centre Services and Italian Call Center Services amongst 30 other European and Asian languages.
Publish Date: March 4, 2019 5:00 AM
If your business is expanding globally, by now you would realized that the need for Multilingual customer support in indisputable. Many companies, however, tend to invest in an in-house customer support department or work with freelance customer support executives. Neither strategy is utterly flawed. But, at the same time, you can’t deliver great customer support by adapting either of them.
Let’s find out why!
Establish your in-house multilingual call center, just like any other function, in-house is an added cost and effort. And a pretty sizeable one too. You need to assess how many multilingual customer support agents you need and for what all languages. If you target different countries and wish to provide Multilingual customer support in all those languages, you’ll have to bring in dedicated native speaking agents for each language to run multilingual customer support for each of those countries. If you don’t have sufficient customer contact volume in each of those languages, will you have sufficient work to keep your Multilingual Customer support agents busy? If not, it can be prohibitively expensive when you calculate the cost per contact you will incur to run your in-house Multilingual call center. Also, how do you manage and review their work? For instance, if you hire a German customer support agent, you’ll need a German supervisor to guide him/her. Also, how do you allocate work to these agents? How do you cover for their absence – scheduled or unscheduled? Hire extra back ups means additional cost.
Having in-house Multilingual call center means that each time you expand your business to a new geography, you will have to spend time hiring, training and managing your multilingual customer support agents for that country.
To summarise , hiring in-house multilingual customer support agents is like running your own in-house multilingual call center. Soon, you will realize that you are spending more time, energy and resources supervising your in-house multilingual call center that you should ideally be focusing on developing your business and acquiring new customers in that new country you have made your entry in.
At first glance, outsourcing multilingual customer support to freelancers sounds tempting. It seems like a quick fix that costs a fraction of doing it in-house and cheaper than most of the outsourced multilingual call centers. With a few clicks, you can find many freelance native multilingual agents willing to render their services including customer support. But, working with freelancers has its own downsides.
First and foremost there is the trouble of picking the right freelancers. How do you decide which freelance customer support executive to work with? How do you compare them judiciously? Can you always trust the reviews? Reviews may not always be relevant to customer service skills of the freelancer. You’ll have to spend time assessing costs, going through reviews, and maybe even conducting background checks before getting started. That’s a lot of time, which should rather be invested in improving your products and services.
Multilingual freelancers need to be managed too, just like in-house agents and given that you need to manage them remotely, it makes the task more complicated. Making sure they stick to the schedule and are available as agreed upon, setting up training processes and programs for them before they can even start working, monitoring that they are promptly and accurately answering your customers’ questions, are following your instructions, and style is a full-time job in itself.
With freelance support agents working out of different countries, there’s always the issue of time zone differences, making coordination extremely hard. And what happens if the freelance agent decides to quit abruptly or goes on unplanned leave? You will find yourself frantically looking for a replacement to prepare for the job all over again!
While freelancers may be able to answer your basic customer queries, getting them to understand what is your brand culture is, who your customer are, what their core problems are, whether it has occurred before, and how to effectively tackle them is challenging and to quite an extent futile because multilingual freelancers are not long term.
Hiring multilingual freelancers is similar to running your own multilingual call center, just outside your premises. The perceived cost advantage seriously pales in front of all the trouble you will need take on to make something like this work. The drawbacks of using freelance support agents are quite glaring. Keep in mind that the cost of poor customer service is immeasurable, especially given how well-connected modern-day customers are.
You should channelize your energy and resources in growing your business and let a professional outsourced Multilingual call center handle your multilingual customer support.
An experienced outsourced multilingual call center is your answer. There’s often skepticism around how outsourced multilingual call centers are costlier than, for instance, working with freelancers. However, the comparison itself is flawed. What a Multilingual call center offers is a fully managed solution that takes the entire burden of running multiple customer support off your shoulder, something you can’t compare with hiring freelancers or an in-house solution.
Most Multilingual call centers offer customer support solution in multiple languages. For instance, here at LiveSalesman, we offer native Multilingual customer support in most European and Asian languages including Spanish Call Center Support, French Call Center Support, German Call Center Support and Italian Call Center Support. Thus, you get the advantage of one stop solution for customer support in multiple languages.
Another huge advantage is that when you work with a leading multilingual call center, the agents have a strong foundation in delivering customer support for different brands and have the right skill set for the job, thereby making it easier for you to get them up to speed.
Above all, when you deal with a professional multilingual call center, they are accountable to deliver the promised results and are bound by the SLA you sign with them. They have a full-fledged recruitment, training and operations team dedicated for different functions of running a seamless customer support operation. Most of the Multilingual Call Centers work round the clock so you get the benefit of 24×7 Multilingual customer support. You don’t need to worry about arranging back ups or replacements when agents go on leave or quit.
Oftentimes, an outsourced multilingual call center is a much cheaper option than running multilingual customer support in-house. The list of benefits is endless.
Get in touch with us today to learn how we can help you deliver high quality multilingual customer service cost effectively.
Publish Date: February 25, 2019 5:00 AM
For global businesses today, Germany represents an important market. But keeping German customers delighted isn’t as easy as it seems. They have their own way of doing things and therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach to customer service won’t work.
German call centers need to adapt to the changing needs and expectations of customers in the region. With this in mind, we reviewed our interactions with German customers and spoke to our German Customer support team to gather some insights on brands can customize their customer experience and project their brand as a local familiar brand to their German customers.
So, let’s take a look at the latest customer service trends – including the subsequent takeaways - which multi-national companies targeting Germany should be cognizant of.
Germans are regulars in communicating with brands. Based on a survey, about 6 in 8, or 74% of them, do so at least monthly. What’s worrying though is that about half of those who responded to the survey weren’t satisfied with their experience. Biggest reason quotes by the German Customers for their disappointment was the time it takes companies to respond.
Takeaway: To think that German customers don’t contact brands enough is a falsified notion. They do and expect instant access to support or information when they approach customer service. When setting up German Call Centers, brands need to ensure that they invest in multiple modes of communication to make the support timelier, more mobile and more secure. Similarly, your German Call Center agents should be thoroughly trained on your product and services so that they are able to deliver fast and accurate responses to your German customers. There’s so much potential to turn dissatisfied customers into delighted ones, drive word-of-mouth marketing, and improve customer retention, all by instilling a culture of service excellence and building a robust German customer support team.
Based on a recent study of over 1,500 online shoppers, more than 50% surveyed turned down chatbots as a mode of communication with the brand. Common reasons include Chat-bots perceived as too impersonal, inaccurate, complicated and not adding any value that makes them worthwhile.
Takeaway: Businesses don’t have to reinvent the wheel and invest heavily on new technology. At least not yet. Germans take their communications with a brand a bit more seriously, they are a lot more formal in the way they communicate and hence do not exactly fancy an automated channel like chatbots which contradicts this cultural norm.
Phone, chat and e-mail are the most used customer service channels. Based on a representative study conducted by a Germany electricity provider, 80% of the surveyed people prefer phone while 60% prefer
e-mail for customer service.
Takeaway: German customers prefer talking to a real person on the other side than being overwhelmed by technology. For Germans, what matters the most when it comes to support is regular availability, prompt responses to questions as well as integrity and reliability irrespective of the channels used. Hence, focusing and investing in fancier self help tools and technology may be premature, instead brands should concentrate on how they can make their German call center agents more efficient on the good old phone, email and chat.
Over 70% of Germans want German-speaking customer service reps and German Text-To-Speech (TTS) menus. They have shown clear preference for access to a local and toll free phone number to contact customer support.
Takeaway: To delight your German customers, localizing the customer experience you offer is your best bet. Brands cannot make do with German call center agents who do not understand the local language and the nuances of local culture. To deliver great service to German customers, the pre-requisite is to have a team of German customer service support agents who can handle calls, emails, and online chat communications seamlessly.
Based on a survey in Germany, Millennials were 58% more likely to use mobile apps when compared to other age groups.
Takeaway: If the target audience of your business is millennials, your in-app customer service has to be spot on and flawless. Given that millennials want fast yet effective solutions, German customer support service agents need to be well-equipped to handle multiple in-app chat interactions, understand the context behind these conversations and offer personalized solutions.
While 92% of Germans mostly use email to communicate with companies, 80% of them don’t open their email right away.
Takeaway: Never depend on Email as a standalone customer support channel. Whilst you might have sent a quick reply e-mail to a customer query, chances are that they haven’t opened it yet. German call centers agents, therefore, ought to adopt a multi-channel approach. For instance, when replying on email, you can make sure to follow up on SMS as well.
Germans are twice as likely as open an SMS immediately in comparison to an Email.
Takeaway: We touched upon the need to use SMS as a backup channel before. But in many cases, it would be practical for companies to leverage it as the primary customer communication channel. This would ensure that quick responses by your German call center agents not only reach customers.
At LiveSalesman, we offer high quality 24×7 German Call Center Solutions delivered by native German Customer Service executives. All our German call center agents are bilingual and are fluent in both German and English. We provide you with a local German phone number and flexible plans so that you can scale up and down according to your changing business needs. We offer Multilingual Call Center Solutions in over 30 languages including Portuguese Call Center Solutions, Spanish Call Center Solutions, Russian Call Center Solutions, and French Call Center Solutions to name a few.
Publish Date: February 17, 2019 5:00 AM
Arguably the biggest consumer market in the world, China is a goldmine for any consumer-oriented business. With a population of over a billion and a somewhat balanced age demographic, your products and services have found a home. As rosy as the above picture might seem, if the market is not properly exploited, your business might not benefit from its staggering potentials. A large part of ensuring that isn’t the case is to understand the Chinese customer and how to win their trust.
In comparison with western cultures, the Chinese are different in every sense of the word. The social structure and general cultural differences set China apart from western countries. As a Chinese customer service representative, arming yourself with Chinese cultural etiquette and social norms can make all the difference between retaining and losing customers. This post explores the things you need to keep in mind while establishing your Chinese Call Centre.
Considered by many to be a difficult language to master, learning mandarin can be discouraging. However, this language is spoken by more than 70% of the Chinese population. Business suddenly becomes difficult when you can’t speak the language; hence offering call centre service in Chinese is not a choice but is an indispensable need.
A Chinese Call Center representative must first cross the language Rubicon. Failure to do so automatically translates to lack of entry. There is also a psychological reason to learn the language. The customer is immediately disposed to speaking with you if he finds that your Chinese Call Centre agents are fluent in Mandarin or Cantonese.
Social hierarchies are heightened in China. Everyone identifies with a specific social class and wants to be accorded the corresponding respect. To do otherwise might birth a hostile conversation for the Chinese call center agent.
Laying a proper foundation for your job as a Chinese customer service agent requires that you take time to understand the social hierarchical structures in China. This should be done before picking up the phone.
From your initial research, you would find that Chinese men like to be addressed by their titles first followed by their surname. This is however not a rule cut in stone as you can refer to a customer as “Mr” or “Mrs” If you don’t know the appropriate title.
In China, it would be considered rude to dive straight into the core of the conversation. Doing so creates an adversarial impression with the customer. To douse the tension, Chinese Call Centre agents should begin the conversation with pleasantries such as “how are you” or “where have you been”. This would invariably set the tone for a healthy conversation.
However, the Chinese call center representative has to be careful about topics to discuss. Breaking the ice with subjects such as the political climate might not give such a soft landing. In the alternative, talk about casual topics such as the weather, food and the scenery.
This rule might not come in handy when dishing out good news to the customer but it is important when the news is bad. The Chinese find it impolite to give negative responses in a direct manner. The better approach is to be democratic with the news.
Delivering world-class Call Centre Service in Chinese dictates that you say “no” as little as possible. Instead, provide an alternative solution to the customer’s problem.
The Chinese are extremely detailed in the way and manner they handle their affairs. Before speaking to a Chinese customer, he probably has a decent idea about the business you’re trying to sell. Hence, he would have a lot of questions to ask.
As a Chinese Call Center agent, you must be equally prepared to answer the customer’s question. Failure to do sure gives the impression that you shouldn’t be taken seriously. Similarly, you should be punctual for every call.
In western cultures, trust is easy until evidence dictates otherwise. Thus, as soon as the customer care representative picks up the phone, he immediately finds receptive ears. The Chinese are not so easy to persuade. They are generally skeptical of a stranger’s intentions so it might be an uphill to persuade the customer.
To win the customer’s trust, the Chinese customer service agent must slowly build up trust. The conversation should commence with pleasantries. Then, the customer should be provided with genuine fact and details to build credibility before trying to seal the deal.
This is especially important when trying to sell a product to the customer.
While holidays in a western country can last between 1 to 3 days, Chinese holidays run for longer. They are elaborately planned and are considered serious business. Consequently, it would be considered rude to discuss product and services during these occasions, something Chinese Customer Service agents should always keep in mind.
From what has been said so far, you might have guessed that quick fixes are unlikely in rendering call center services in China. Don’t be in a hurry to end the conversation. Take your time to warm up to the customer. Where a hint of impatience is perceived it might be considered rude.
Additionally, knowing the holidays helps you kick start the conversation on a playful note.
At LiveSalesman, we have been delivering Chinese Call Centre services in both Mandarin and Cantonese for over 8 years. Given our extensive experience in interacting with Chinese Customers, we are rightly positioned to give your business the right boost through impeccable Chinese customer service delivery. All our Chinese Customer Service agents are native Chinese. If you are looking to outsource your Chinese Call Centre and Customer Support, talk to us today.
Apart from Chinese, our Multilingual Call Centre Services include Arabic Call Centre Support, Japanese Call Centre Support and Korean Call Centre support amongst 30 other European and Asian languages.
Publish Date: February 11, 2019 5:00 AM
Customers come in several forms. While some might have a pretty good idea of what they want others might need guidance. In other cases, customers are simply angry right from the moment they picked up the phone. Hence, the job of the outsourced customer support representative becomes impossible. First, he must calm the customer’s nerves if he wants a realistic chance of discussing anything on its merits.
A fair amount of customers a call center agent speaks to would be this way. Why? They probably picked up the phone because there is a problem with the product or service of the business. If that doesn’t make them angry, the circumstances of their everyday life would do the trick.
So, whether you are an Outsourced Call Center Services provider or a business with an in-house call centre, the importance of dealing with this category of customers cannot be overstated. The following are some of the ways to deliver the best customer service without getting into a fight with the customer.
People generally react rashly in circumstances they aren’t prepared for. If you think most of the customers you speak to would be of good conduct, then you’re in for a scary surprise. Call center outsourcing companies hold specially training and mock sessions that are intended to prepare agents to handle situations where in many customers are already irritated before picking up the phone. Hence, this reduces the tendency to react harshly to the customer.
While it might seem like the customers are consciously taking shots at call center reps, this cannot be farther from the truth. As stated earlier, customers are angry because something is wrong with the product or service rendered or in their lives. Consequently, it is important to recognize that it’s not personal warfare.
Understanding where the customer is coming from puts things in the right perspective. You immediately focus on identifying with the client’s needs rather than engaging in endless banter. Also, this is a precursor to solving the client’s problems.
You can never go wrong with apologizing. This is largely due to its disarming effect on the customer’s ego. The customer probably picked up the phone expecting a fight. To be immediately met by an apology changes the narrative of the conversation.
Good customer service agents understand that saying sorry to the customer has nothing to do with right or wrong. Running successful businesses means keeping the client happy. Hence, you must be willing to put aside your personal ego in attending to the customer’s needs, something outsourced customer care service providers understand very well.
An angry customer more often than not simply wants a listening voice. Unfortunately, agents of customer service outsourcing companies are the easiest target for the customer’s venting. If you try to talk back at the customer while he is telling his story, you would only escalate the client’s temper.
The better approach would be to listen to the client while he tells his story. Ignore the tone of the manner of the story but focus on solving the customer’s problems. If you take this route, you would discover two things. First, as soon as the customer gets out all his grievances he becomes easier to talk to. Second, the story would reveal the client’s biases and innermost needs.
A customer service agent should be solution driven and nothing calms a customer’s nerves better than answered questions or problems solved. They take time to listen through the anger then identify the customer’s problems. Consequently, the client is provided with solutions to those problems.
In providing solutions, it is important to communicate your opinion about the problems to the customer. Subsequently, the client should be provided with multiple options where possible. If you outsource customer support, make sure that you give in-depth training to your agents on your product or services in the call centre outsourcing company else they will not be able to provide satisfactory solution to your customers.
As a customer service agent, you want to win every customer over with every phone call. However, the reality of life dictates that you cannot provide answers to every question. While you might be tempted to make up an answer, this might not be the best approach for an angry customer or any customer at all.
If you provide false answers to an angry customer, he’ll be angrier the next time he calls. Also, whatever goodwill you have garnered with such a customer is immediately lost. The better approach would be to be straight with the customer regarding his problems. You should then inform the customers of alternative solutions to ease his pains. If you use outsourced call centre service provider, make sure that they follow the same approach with your customers.
Providing world-class customer service requires going an extra mile for your customer. This including knowledge of the personal details of the customer, including the name. Calling a customer by his or her first name makes the conversation personal. It gives a subtle hint to the customer that you care about his problems.
This might be a risky tactic but would work on the right customer. The trick is gauging how angry the customer is before asking clarifying questions. If the customer is receptive to the question, it’s a quick way to defuse the situation. Reps of customer service outsourcing companies get extensive training on how to execute this properly.
There are instances where all the approaches mentioned above would simply not produce a positive result. Why? The customer might be simply unreasonable. In this case, the best approach is to stand your ground. This is especially so when the customer is verbally abusive.
To de-escalate while being assertive, communicate your views to the customer in a soft tone. Do otherwise and he/she assumes you are ready for a fight.
All we have disclosed so far is elaborate points but they can be summed up with simple psychological ideas used by experienced outsourced call centre Services providers are expressed below:
At LiveSalesMan, we have years of experience and expertise in handling customer relations and psychology. If you are looking for Inbound call centre services to outsource customer support, get in touch with us today.
Publish Date: January 25, 2019 5:00 AM
Excellent customer support is the focal point of every business operation. Owing to the fact, many companies are operating in-house multilingual customer call center while others are outsourcing this division. Do you really think running or hiring multilingual call center 24*7 is enough to meet varied customers’ expectations or it is just tip of the iceberg? Corporate world is evolving at a fast pace and business cannot afford to lose single potential customers just because it is lacking on certain parameters of offering impressive customer support services. Assorted below are few ways which intensely affect customer experience and result in higher customer engagement ratio for customer support service providers.
Focus on Customers’ Language – Offer customer support in customers’ language not in company’s language. Moreover, because your customers understand English does not mean they prefer it for business communication. If you are offering customer support to Spanish customers in English language, communication gap is bound to occur. Thus, it is pertinent to know the preferred language of your customers before offering them multilingual customer service. Simultaneously, gather facts about their second preferred language to further mitigate the problem of language barriers. It is a worth to remember that providing support to the customers in their language will accelerate your brand sale by engaging more and more customers.
Follow Cross-cultural Service Expectations- May be your multilingual customer service agents serve their clients in Arabic, Chinese, Spanish and many other languages flawlessly but does it ensure effective communication? The answer is NO. To ensure effective communication, following cross-cultural practices is inevitable. It is because parameters of good customer service for one nation may be a deal-breaker for others. Customers do want their problems resolved, but not in the same way. For instance, customers of Western countries talk in fast pace whereas Asian customers consider fast pace as rude or inappropriate language tone. Similarly, speaking casual language with Japanese customers considered as inappropriate and insulting. Thus, invest time in training your multilingual call center agents about cultural nuances of different nations so that they do not follow “one size fit approach” while communicating with customers of different nations. Do remember, when you exhibit that you know your customers’ culture, they will trust you more.
Consider Time Zone by Creating Standard Response Time Policy – Responding quickly is one factor which differentiates companies having loyal customers base with companies who struggle in retaining customers. Faster the speed, more satisfied would be the customers. Moreover, set different standard response window for different modes of communication. Let us assume 2 hours’ is an ideal response time for live chat support but may be inappropriate for responding over email. The idea is to respond to customers’ queries quickly by creating standard response time policy and strictly adhering to it on consistent basis. Not to forget the golden rule “You loose if you snooze”.
Implement the Concept of “Long Tail” – The “long tail” is a popular marketing concept which allows business to make profit by selling less number of hard-to-find items to scores of customers instead of focusing upon selling high volumes of popular items. Every multilingual call center should apply this concept to increase their market presence and get an insight whether they are using their resources in the right manner or not. It may happen that a business is receiving large number of queries from Asian countries on monthly basis but when it comes to revenue, Western countries may steal the show due to massive business growth prospects. This analysis will help businesses in deploying their resources judiciously and create their plan of action accordingly.
Increase Business Scalability across Multiple Languages – Any business can expand its business presence in multiple countries by offering multilingual customer service. It is not wrong to say that for surviving in the global marketplace, multilingual call centre support has become a business necessity. Managing in-house multilingual call centre is a big challenge. Thus, outsourcing such services is a better and effective business strategy. Multilingual call center like LiveSalesman is competent to provide customer support in multiple languages like Chinese Call Center Support, Arabic Call Center Support, French Call Center Support, Spanish Call Center Support to name a few to worldwide clients. Their trained and knowledgeable Multilingual customer service agents know the art of creating personalized service experience for customers of different nations. Moreover, outsourcing multilingual customer support also ensures to manage business operations within your prescribed operating cost.
Publish Date: January 21, 2019 5:00 AM
Customer service is at its best when there is an in-depth understanding of the customer’s peculiarities. This becomes paramount when dealing with customers from a different country. There are subtle, and not so subtle cultural cues that should be taken into account when providing Multilingual call centre support.
Portuguese customer service is no exception to this rule. A proficient Portuguese call center agent is one who understands the nature of the average Portuguese. Hence, he is better equipped to render bespoke services to the customer. By employing cultural nuances as a disarming tool, the customer becomes receptive to the product and services of the business. Now, let us explore what the dos and don’ts to keep in mind while providing Portuguese call centre support.
The Portuguese prefer their business conversations to start in a business-like manner. Consequently, they expect their phone conversation to begin with a “hello” followed by a quick introduction of the caller. Starting the conversation in this manner sets the tone in the psyche of the customer. He immediately knows what purpose the call would serve.
When the ice has been broken, the Portuguese customer care agent can proceed with the conversation in a less formal format. The Portuguese are open to less formal talk as soon as they are familiar with the caller. At this point, it would be appropriate to ask about family and his work. However, in asking about personal details, care must be taken not to get too personal. The customer might become stiff when you ask about the intricate details of his life.
The official language in Portugal is the Portuguese language. You would, however, find that a large portion of the population is fluent in English. The reason is not so far fetched since the country has been largely open to English speaking tourists. This has encouraged a large portion of natives to learn the language. Hence, it would not be unusual for a Portuguese customer service agent to go about his business in English.
In providing Portuguese call centre support, it would be safe to initiate the conversation in Portuguese. As the conversation progresses, there might be a need to switch to another language depending on the preference of the customer, something that Portuguese call centre agents should be able to judge.
Though the Portuguese prefer their business conversations to be initiated formally, they do not like to dive straight into business. When time permits it, the Portuguese customer service agent should take off the edge, by talking about non-business topics. The conversation can drift to a topic such as the current weather conditions, the personal life of the customer or sport.
When discussing the personal life of the customer, it would be wise to stay on the surface. Ask about his job and family and you might get little or no resistance. However, when you delve into subjects such as personal finance and religion, the conversation might take a different turn. The Portuguese consider their finances a personal matter and won’t touch the subject unless they have to.
Football or soccer is the most played sport in the country. Thus, asking about a customer’s favorite team would definitely score some points. You might want to limit your sporting discussions to this singular sport. Extending the conversation to less popular sports might not produce a similar result. Portuguese customer service centre agents should be given extensive training to sensitize them about these cultural peculiarities unless you hire native Portuguese call centre agents.
Getting answers from a Portuguese isn’t as easy compared to some of their European counterparts. Take a German for instance; his answers would leave no room for doubt as to his intentions. The Portuguese on the other hand, are less generous with answers. This is so because it is in their nature to be polite and to avoid conversational directness.
Accordingly, to get answers, you would have to read between the lines. That is, analyze the statements of the customer to decipher what his intentions are. This also connotes that you shouldn’t push for straight answers when the customer is giving you kickbacks. This can land your Portuguese call centre agents in a tricky situation sometimes that they should be trained to deal with.
While you might want to say a few nice things to get comfy with the customer, it would serve you best to keep your compliments short. The Portuguese tend to smell a rat when you shower them with compliments. This is particularly true when you are kicking off the relationship but less true when you are familiar with the customer. Your Portuguese customer service agents should be careful not to be generous with compliments lest it backfires.
The Portuguese, just like their Spanish neighbors have been judged to speak too loud and fast. This characterization might be subjective as some have argued that it is simply a matter of perception. That is, because most people aren’t familiar with the language, so they simply assume it’s a fact.
Whether you fall into this category or not, it is important to note that the volume and speed of the Portuguese customers’ voice has nothing to do with their love or hate for what is being said. It is simply the way they speak. This is however the general rule. It would be prudent to watch out for changes in the customers tone as the conversation progresses.
Portugal has a population of over 10 million and more than half of that figure is active Internet users. Specifically, the Portuguese youth are active on social media platforms. Hence, if your company’s aim is to reach this demographic, you would find better luck by connecting with them on social media.
Also, where you choose not to use social media as a communication tool, it can be used as a gauge for public interest or opinion about your company’s product and services.
Though providing the best call center service in Portugal goes beyond understanding cultural nuances, knowing them would get you half way there. This and many other competencies are why you should choose LiveSalesman if you are looking for Portugal Call Centre Support. All our Portuguese Customer Service agents are natives. At LiveSalesman, we specialize in offering Multilingual Call Centre support in over 30 European and Asian languages including Portuguese Call Centre Services and Spanish Call Centre Support.
Publish Date: December 24, 2018 5:00 AM
The emergence and subsequent evolution of disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) have led many to believe that AI is now poised to penetrate and transform the way we conduct our day-to-day lives. Many are of the opinion that the day is not far when AI-driven automation will displace a variety of jobs in entirety, including human-oriented roles such as customer service. Such thoughts and beliefs have sparked a debate on whether the jobs of call center agents and live chat agents are at a threat.
Now, there’s no denying that AI will play a defining role in shaping the future of various contact center services such as inbound call center support, email support and live chat customer service. However, the prospect of AI fully replacing human customer service agents seems to be a far-fetched one. Especially considering the fact that AI itself is an evolving technology. And it has a long way to go before it reaches the stage where it sophisticates itself to the extent that it matches or surpasses the natural intelligence of humans.
So, will AI disrupt the call center industry? The answer is ‘YES’ as a digital transformation of the industry is inevitable. Will the technology completely replace call center agents in the days to come? The answer is ‘NO’ as corroborated by the following reasons:
In content of Contact Center industry, AI come in the form of programmed automation in live chat automated responses, programmed email responses or IVR systems that are intended to reduce manual intervention, expedite the response time and improve the accuracy of the responses. However, contrary to the augmented perception of the experience artificial intelligence was supposed to bring in, in most instances, customers are increasingly left frustrated and disappointed with robotic, mindless chat bot responses that do nothing to resolve the issue. Customers constantly find themselves struggling to extricate themselves from the endless loop of automated responses to talk to a real human!
The matter of fact is that AI systems don’t yet have the potential to deliver impeccable precision as was assumed. For now, their level of accuracy depends on the expertise of their implementer. The much hyped and talked about Call Center AI in its current state is in-fact just a system that relies on keyword detection to retrieve information from the database and creating an exhaustive and fully comprehensive database that ensures good customer experience requires a great deal of effort, time and resources which most organizations can not afford to invest in. As a result, answers provided by chat-bots are not always accurate and customers have to try different keywords to arrive at the desired answer.
This practice of utilizing keyword detection to solve customer queries is itself not foolproof. Human imagination has no limit. Thus, it’s near impossible to create an exhaustive list that accommodates every possible word or phrase that the human mind can fathom when searching for information on a particular topic. Consequently, you can never guarantee that your AI system is robust enough to decode every customer query to the T, or that it will always be able to provide the right answer that is relevant to what a customer is looking for.
Provided you have well-trained and efficient call center agents at your disposal, your odds of getting it right the first time is higher with call center agents and live chat agents as opposed to an AI program that simulates human interactions based on pre-determined user phrases and expressions.
When it comes to answering basic inquiries responding to simple questions that are predictable and repetitive, AI-enabled systems may be able serve purpose well if done right. However, when it comes to handling higher level complex issues, AI leaves a lot to be desired. With the advancement of technology, the complexity of the customer queries is also increasing. Sophisticated technology requires sophisticated answers, judgment, decision making and tactical handling that only humans are capable of and hence customer service agents have to step into the picture to ensure that all queries are dealt with efficiently for utmost satisfaction to the end users. For example, live call center agents will have to engage themselves when a customer contacts an inbound call center and demands to speak to a supervisor to discuss a late fee waiver as a goodwill gesture.
As much as businesses would like all support to be run by automated systems or self help tools, at present there is no way to resolve the whole length and breadth of complex issues faced by your customers without human customer support agents.
Interestingly, even if such self-service offerings and AI are efficient enough to handle routine queries, most customers still prefer communicating with live customer service agents vis-a-vis conversing with machines. And it’s got to do with the fact that automated responses and self-service interactions lack the “human touch” and the natural flow of a human-to-human conversation. That’s because, despite all its underlying sophistication and learning, AI as a technology is still not developed enough to detect and respond to human emotions accurately.
Machines cannot feel. They are not capable of gauging the mood of a customer or comprehending complex human expressions such as pun and sarcasm like human customer service agents can. They can’t judge if they should empathize with a customer who is having a bad day or if they should employ tact or humor to diffuse a tense situation. They may be cognitively smart but they are far from being emotionally intelligent. Given such shortcomings on their emotional front, it’s not surprising that conversations with automated systems often sound scripted and even awkward at times. One can hardly argue that human-to-machine interactions don’t come across half as warm, natural or personal as human-to-human conversations held by customer support agents. In fact, the former can be quite frustrating if the responses contradict a customer’s needs or are not suited to the situation at hand.
When providing service to end users, one must bear in mind that not every customer will voice their dissatisfaction in as many words. It is up to the call center representative on the other end of the line, whether human or robot, to recognize the subtle cues that could indicate a likely churn. With AI, we are not quite there yet where we can expect machines to understand a customer’s emotional state and act accordingly to appease him or her. Eventually, it comes down to the inbound call center team and live chat agents to salvage the situation and retain the customer with an empathic approach and tailored solutions.
If you are the owner of a start-up or small business and thinking of automating your chat support, make sure you do your homework first and determine if it is worth investing thousands of dollars in expensive AI solutions as returns can be little or nil. Lots of small businesses fall for the low cost chat bots without considering the cost of valuable resources required to develop a worthwhile database for it to perform well as elaborated above. Unless you have a considerable call/ticket volumes…in hundreds or thousands per month, it makes no sense to spare that amount of money and manpower to implement and AI solution unless you reach that scale.
Before taking the plunge and integrating AI into contact center services, it will be wise of businesses to also take into consideration the demographics and willingness of their target audience to adopt automated live chat customer service or other AI based customer support systems. Independent studies reveal that demographic variables such as age, gender, geographic location etc. have a role to play in influencing one’s choice and usage of specific communication channels. According to a finding, customers, aged 35 and below, are more willing to embrace new-age contact solutions like live chat customer service as opposed to their older counterparts (aged over 35) who are more likely to opt for human interactions when seeking assistance. And then there are those who, regardless of their age, simply feel more comfortable talking to someone who is flesh and blood and not some form of programmed automation.
You may be better off engaging live chat agents and call center agents to impart the desired level of service without incurring the massive expenses that are typically associated with AI implementation.
As evident from the above, the use of AI in the context of the call center industry will be that of an enabler and not one that acts as a substitute for human representatives. Hence, the fear of AI replacing humans in contact centers is unfounded. Till such time the end user is not a robot, AI will have to go hand in hand with human involvement for positive customer experiences.
In the coming days, AI will get smarter for sure as machine learning continues to evolve and refine itself. As the technology gets mainstreamed and blended with the human touch, the call center industry will also get to benefit as it can be utilized to perform mundane call center tasks allowing the call center agents to focus on customer issues that require human intervention and judgment. The idea is to strike a balance between a hands-on and hands-off approach so that contact centers can deliver what they set out to do, i.e. focus on offering exemplary services that create customer delight.
If you don’t have the bandwidth or resources to run an in-house call center, outsourcing can be a cost effective and efficient alternative. If you intend to outsource chat support or inbound call center support, consider choosing an experienced service provider that assures you of friendly, professional and personalized services. Such bespoke services can go a long way in driving conversion rates and ensuring superior customer experiences - outcomes that technology cannot achieve on its own. When you decide to outsource inbound call center support or live chat support, look for a service provider that has the capability to offer multilingual live chat and multilingual call center solutions. This will hold you in good stead when your business grows and the need to provide 24/7 chat support in multiple languages becomes inevitable.
Publish Date: December 20, 2018 5:00 AM
“Use the right tone when speaking to customers.” If you are a calling agent providing phone support to customers, this oft-repeated guideline will surely ring a bell to you. Even if you’re not acquainted with the nuances of an inbound call center, chances are you must have replayed something similar in your mind when a certain verbal or written communication sounded rude or condescending to you. So, what is it about the “tone” that makes it so crucial in the context of customer service? Does it really matter whether you get the tone right or not? Read on to know more.
According to Albert Mehrabian, an inconsistency of thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs arises when what we say is not in harmony with how we say it. He illustrates this point through his 7-38-55 Rule of Personal Communication which states that words only account for 7% of the essence of a message. The rest of the context is inferred from the speaker’s tone of voice (38%) and body language (55%).
In an inbound call center environment, assuming there is no video chat support involved, the relative impact of body language on the effectiveness of communication is null. For calling agents, non-verbal elements predominantly determine the quality of their phone conversations. Thus, unless the spoken words are congruent with the non-verbal cues (read tone, pitch, rate of speech etc.), there’s a risk of being misunderstood or being perceived as fake by the person on the other end of the line.
In today’s digital age, phone and email are no longer the only modes of providing service to customers. Live chat, mobile and social media are also popular channels for customers to communicate with brands. Every communication channel has its own nuances around formality, tone, language style, etc. For example, emails are considered to be more formal than live chat or mobile communication. Thus, while it may be acceptable to use an informal tone when responding over live chat or mobile, the same may be looked upon as inappropriate when offering phone support or assistance via email.
The same goes for the use of emojis and emoticons. It is not uncommon to use emojis when communicating over channels that allow customer service agents to be more spontaneous. However, emojis are not recommended for relatively more formal communication channels like email. Occasionally, the use of emoticons (facial expressions created using keyboard characters) may be permissible for email responses. In most cases, it’s usually safe to replicate a customer’s communication style and tone, i.e., you can follow suit if you notice a customer using icons and digital images to convey his or her feelings and emotions.
Ever wondered why it is so important for calling agents to adapt their tones and communication styles to that of their customers? That’s because no two customers are alike and conversational styles also differ from one to the other. Thus, while an unscripted and informal conversational beat may work for today’s millennials, the same approach may misfire when dealing with traditional users who may prefer a more formal style of customer service. Also, bear in mind that today’s customers seek a more authentic and personalized service experience. Hence, addressing callers using their names and doing away with a cookie-cutter style of customer service are good strategies to accommodate changing customer tastes.
It is equally imperative for inbound call center agents to ensure that their tone is a reflection of the voice of their customers. Thus, if a caller exhibits a warm and friendly demeanor, one should reciprocate likewise using an amiable and easy-going tone (of course, without sounding too casual). Alternately, if a caller sounds formal or distant, care should be taken to avoid an overly friendly or conversational tone that may irk him or her. When declining requests or dealing with angry customers, a formal but compassionate attitude is suggested as a casual approach may be interpreted as insensitive or uncaring. Furthermore, instead of using intensely negative words to communicate the “No”, leverage “Service No” or “Positive No” to pass on the message without sounding rude or unemphatic.
Despite being popular as “web lingo” or casual forms of conversation, words or phrases like “LOL”, “TTYL”, “BRB”, “Wassup”, “Kinda”, “No worries”, “stuff like these” etc. lack a professional tone and are not suitable for use in customer service. Similarly, the use of heavily idiomatic language is not desirable as colloquial expressions that are specific to one’s regional or local dialect may not be comprehensible or relevant for callers from other regions. Thus, while phrases like “push the boat out”, “put the cat among the pigeons” and “over-egg the pudding” may sound familiar to the average British, they may be confusing or indecipherable for the French, Korean or Japanese.
Lastly, in their efforts to get the tone right or when attempting to adapt their language style based on who they are speaking to or the context of their conversations, phone support agents must ensure they do not come across as unprofessional or inelegant in their discussions. And regardless of whether the tone of their discussions is friendly, humorous, formal, distant or casual, customer service agents should not forget the basic customer service etiquettes of active listening, politeness, empathy, and patience when assisting customers with their queries and issues.
A warm, sincere, friendly and polite tone can go a long way in improving customer experience, cementing customer relationships and building brand loyalty. However, how polite is polite or what is the desired level of politeness in customer care support service is something that merits careful consideration. That’s because the perception of politeness varies from people to people. The ‘Politeness Theory’ of Penelope Brown and Stephen C. Levinson asserts that conversationalists employ four main types of politeness strategies when attempting to mitigate face threats. Two of these strategies are positive politeness and negative politeness. Both emphasize avoidance of offense to the listener. However, while the former does this through friendliness, the latter exploits deference to achieve the outcome.
When attempting positive politeness, the addresser assumes a proactive and optimistic approach and strives to offer the addressee a sense of belonging by prioritizing his or her needs and interests. In contrast, those engaging in negative politeness strategies assume a distancing style which is marked by a pessimistic, apologetic and indirect approach. Such speakers are reluctant to communicate anything that can be objectionable, disrespectful or imposing to the listener. As an inbound call center agent, is it up to you to judge which politeness strategy best suits your customers, keeping in mind the latter’s expectations, communication styles, likes and dislikes.
Words to soften conversations and make them sound less direct and more polite:
Altering certain verb forms and tenses or making use of words and phrases that indicate possibility, ability, permission, obligation etc. can significantly reduce the impact of face-threatening utterances and enhance the level of politeness in your conversations.
Case in point is the use of hedges (mitigating words, expressions and sounds), past forms of modal verbs (“could” instead of “can”, “might” in place of “may”, “would” as opposed to “will” etc.) and past simple or past continuous tense for verbs like “hope”, “want”, and “wonder”.
Consider the following examples:
“I expect a response within a day.” vs. “I was wondering if I could get a response within a day.”
“Restart the computer.” vs. “Could you just try restarting the computer once again, please?”
“This is not possible.” vs. “This seems less likely.”
“The service has deteriorated over time.” vs. “The service has somewhat deteriorated over time.”
In all of the above constructions, the use of words or expressions such as “was wondering”, “less likely”, “somewhat” etc. make the tone of the statements less forceful and more polite.
Another tactic to make your conversations seem less direct or assertive is to introduce vagueness into your constructions. Thus, rather than saying “It got uncomfortable after a point”, you could say “It got kind of uncomfortable after a point”.
When conversing with a customer, avoiding verbs and phrases that denote an imperative mood is a good strategy to make your discussions sound less commanding, indifferent or uncaring. Hence, instead of saying, “Pass me the file” which comes across as a command, you can say “Could you pass me the file, please?” to make it sound like a request. Bear in mind though that when issuing warnings, offering advice, giving instructions and directions, or making requests, the use of imperatives is allowable. Hence, exclamations like “Watch out, there is danger ahead!” or “Have a good day!” are acceptable.
Instilling confidence in the callers through added positivity and affirmation:
There’s no denying that a positive attitude is crucial to positive customer experiences. When rendering phone support, inbound call center agents can demonstrate a positive attitude in their communication through the use of affirmatives or positive customer service phrases. Expressions, injected with intensifiers such as positive adjectives and adverbs, sound assuring to callers. For example, “I will surely look into this” sounds much more positive and affirmative than “I will look into this” or “I can look into this”.
As a customer service agent, it will be wise of you to master the art of leveraging the above-mentioned techniques to minimize the impact of certain utterances on the listeners; in other words, you must learn how to “soften the blow”.
When you are unsure of what’s been communicated to you, paraphrase the comment or feedback to seek clarity. When you paraphrase, you demonstrate to the customers that they have been heard, plus you express your intention to get more clarity to avoid any misunderstanding or misinterpretation of facts. A word of caution here. Paraphrasing doesn’t mean parroting back information as that’s plain annoying to the hearer. Rather it implies summarizing and restating facts in your own words to fully uncover the explicit and implicit meaning of the comment or feedback.
At LiveSalesman, we understand how important it is for your international customers to be able to speak to native customer service representatives who are familiar with their accents and cultural nuances. Hence, our multilingual inbound call center solutions are designed to employ the services of bilingual calling agents who are well-versed with English as well as the foreign language in focus. Our phone support agents are adept in adapting their tones and conversational styles based on a myriad of factors, including the tone of the callers, the specific communication channel in use and the nature of the conversations. Feel free to give us a call, email us or contact us today via live chat to get more insights into our outsourced services.
Publish Date: December 6, 2018 5:00 AM
Peak or holiday seasons like Christmas or New Year, are most important seasons for e-retailers from sales and revenue point of view. During these periods, e-retailers plan to earn big money and attract new customers by offering good discounts and schemes. On the other hand, even customers sail high on expectations’.
It all sounds great until you find yourself inundated with customer support emails, non-stop phone calls, live chat messages that can be exciting for you as it means more customers but can be very stressful for your customer support staff. Long working hours and handling innumerable customers’ queries take a toll on employees’ health. On the other hand, inadequate responses accompanied by long waiting time infuriate customers to a great extent. So, during peak holiday seasons, businesses face dual challenges of satisfying customers and keeping employees motivated
Thus, it is vital for business to take pro-active actions for maintaining festive spirit of the customers and offering them great customer experiences. Below are the few ways that enable e-businesses to improve their customer services during peak season.
Prepare Concrete Plan Beforehand – As the adage says “Better safe than sorry”, it is always better to prepare an action plan prior 2-3 months of festive or holiday season. In order to create full-proof plan, collect facts like current workflow rate and expected rate in peak season, understanding expectations of customers, reasons of customers’ dissatisfaction, whether to hire temporary staffing solutions or not. All the important details are easy to extract from the last year’s data. Plan ahead and make it understand to each and every employee of company so that everybody remains on the same page when peak season starts.
Empower Team by Providing Training – Customers do not appreciate if they need to wait a lot for getting their calls answered. Moreover, if customer support staff is unable to solve the query and passes the call to seniors, customers definitely feel disappointed. So first of all, it is crucial to train your employees thoroughly. Provide them crystal clear understanding about your products and services. Conduct regular knowledge transfer sessions and role plays to lower call turnaround times. Suggest ways about how to handle customers’ queries quickly yet efficiently. Invest in building an easy to use and search product knowledge base with detailed FAQs, step by step instructions, and troubleshooting guidelines, manuals and pictures. Of course, it is a daunting task to please every customer during peak season, but little effort in the right direction will definitely go a long way.
Staff up for holiday season – Whether you decide to hire temporary staff or decide to get on a board a customer service outsourcing company for holiday season staffing, you do need to prepare well in advance for additional holiday staffing. Outsourcing to an experienced BPO company does have a lot more benefit than hiring temporary staff directly in-house. Such companies usually offer seasonal staffing solutions and have required tools and hands-on experience of handling high customers’ traffic during holiday season and their customer support agents are ready to hit the ground running. The last thing you want to do is deal with hiring, training, managing and retaining in house temporary staff during your busy season. The smarter choice is to take advantage of temporary staffing solutions from an expert call center provider, be it an offshore call center or onshore.
Motivate Employees to Motivate Customers – Employees with happy state of mind are more productive and offer adequate solutions to customers’ queries. When businesses expect something extra from employees, it is equally important to offer them extra – in the form of incentives, recognitions or cash rewards. Allow them to take frequent breaks, praise them for their achievements, roll-out extra hours’ incentive scheme, etc. After all, holiday season is for everybody- be it customers or employees. If employees are working hard to build and retain your brand reputation, business should not also stay behind to show their fondness towards them.
Personalize your Response –Businesses do follow offering customized services to customers in ordinary days, but due to peak season’s rush, they often forgo it. Customers always expect special treatment from the service providers and seldom pay heed to peak or off season. So, do not forget to add a touch of personalization and treat them like a “VIP or KING” during holiday season as well. Send personalized email addressing them by their names and messages like “ Dear ABC, you have not purchase anything from us in the last 3 weeks”, “ ABC, we are really missing you at XYZ”, etc.
Learn Lessons from Customers’ Feedback - Always remember, it may happen that happy customers do not applaud you but dissatisfied customers tend to complain. Therefore, spare some time from your busy schedule to understand what are customers’ trends and expectations during holiday season. Take a look at their feedback forms filled by them during last year peak season and try to fix all loopholes this time. Indubitably, customers’ feedback encompasses scores of ideas for businesses improve their customer services and increase customers’ satisfaction level.
To conclude, holiday or peak season is the best time to offer unique shopping experience to your valuable customers. Thus, avoid following “one size fits all” approach. Gear up yourself to provide such level of customer service which actually sets a benchmark for others to follow. Share your thoughts about strategies followed by you for handling customers’ queries during peak time.
Publish Date: December 3, 2018 5:00 AM
In today’s multicultural business environment, there’s no way you can undermine the importance of cultural awareness. Whether providing customer service in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic or any other foreign language, it is essential that you take cultural peculiarities into consideration in your everyday communication. Failing to do so can not only make the conversations seem strange to your international callers but can also lead to a complete communication breakdown. Not to forget the resulting customer dissatisfaction and potential loss of business.
The scenario is no different when dealing with German customers. Germans have their own quirks which distinguish them from many others. Hence, if your business requires you to deal with German clients, your customer experience strategy must incorporate their cultural nuances to ensure stellar service to this set of customers. Here are a few of the cultural peculiarities that any German call center team should be cognizant of when assisting the Huns.
In Germany, the use of the first name is reserved for one’s family and close friends. Formality is the norm in business dealings. Thus, when offering German customer support services, it is crucial that your German call center agents address callers appropriately, greeting them using their titles and surnames. Typically “Herr” and “Frau” are used to address German-speaking men and married/ widowed women respectively. The usage of “Sie” and “Du” also merits careful consideration. While both imply “you”, the former is more formal and polite while the latter is informal. So, unless one claims to know the person on the other end well enough, they should stick to “Sie”.
Another interesting fact for your German call center team to make a note of is that when picking up the phone, Germans tend to introduce themselves using their last name. Hence, one shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t hear the expected “Guten Morgen” (Good Morning) or “Guten Abend” (Good Evening) when making outbound calls to customers from Germany. Also, call center agents should identify themselves first before requesting for a concerned person else they may be perceived as rude. Germans commonly give out their phone numbers in double digits - minutiae worth keeping in mind when sharing or jotting down contact information.
Extremely direct in their approach, Germans generally don’t bother much with niceties when conducting business. You can even argue that they lack humor and are too pragmatic to be emotional. The average German would rather get straight down to business than invest precious time in exchanging pleasantries. Getting overfriendly or talking about one’s personal life is a ‘no-no’ in Germany as German business protocol demands formality. So, while small talk may be your German call center agents’ strategy to break the ice with a customer, they must engage in it with caution as it may not strike a chord with your German callers. Even if your team makes small talk, it will be wise of them to center the conversations on safer topics such as football, business and beer.
If your team is already acquainted with German stereotypes, they will probably know that the Huns carry an infamous reputation of being direct to the point of rudeness. Not that it implies that they are intentionally curt. It doesn’t. It’s just that the honest and straightforward communication style of Germans manifests itself in their lack of tact when speaking their mind, calling a spade a spade without batting an eyelid! Your team can actually leverage this trait of to their advantage as they know that any feedback coming their way is brutally honest - telling them exactly what works and what doesn’t!
Their inherent anxious nature makes Germans averse to risks. Extremely meticulous in their approach, they detest chaos and uncertainty in any form, including poor planning, ambiguous statements and disorganized meetings. Business meetings are generally scheduled in advance, aiming for specific outcomes and requiring all parties to adhere to the set agenda shared with them beforehand. Expect a slow decision-making process in the hierarchy-driven business culture. Last-minute adjustments and abrupt changes to the planned scope are not taken kindly and are bound to raise a few eyebrows.
What this implies for your support staff is that they should be thoroughly prepared when providing German customer support services. Likewise, they should not count on on-the-spot judgments in matters that may necessitate the involvement of a decision-making authority - be it the purchase of a relatively more expensive product/service or an alteration to the original scope of the project.
Handling German callers with all their idiosyncrasies can sure be challenging for your German call center. However, not so much so if your team makes efforts to delve into the psyche of the Germans to understand why they behave in the way they do. Germans are highly efficient themselves and they seek perfection in everything. This explains why they are so hard to please. They are also a stickler for rules and like to follow policies and procedures to the T. Demonstrating a rational approach in their way of working, they stress more on facts and logic than hyperbole. Thus, instead of trying to impress your German callers with tall claims and glitzy advertising, your team must strive to get it right the first time - ensuring they verify all facts before presenting them to the callers.
In Germany, business negotiations are typically consensual and the goal is to achieve a win-win situation for both parties. Thus, when engaged in discussions with German callers, your team should try to come up with resolutions that not only adhere to your business protocols but also accommodate the interest of the callers. Even though discussions are direct and frank, Germans make efforts to keep them non-argumentative. Raising voices or emotional outbursts are not common during business negotiations - something to keep in mind when offering German customer support services.
Driven by facts and logic, Germans don’t respond well to marketing gimmicks and overt sales messages. Hence, coach your German call center agents to make a conscious effort to refrain from employing hard-selling techniques when attempting to sell complementary or comparatively higher-end products and services to the callers.
Already dreading the idea of dealing with German callers, fearing they will make you go insane with their finicky nature and demand for perfection? Don’t shun them yet as there are a lot of positives that Germans bring to the table, including their long-term mindset and willingness to invest in lasting business relationships. Germans make reliable and trustworthy partners who like to fulfill their promises and do not shy away from openly highlighting the shortcomings of your products and services. Neither do they mince words when suggesting ways to improve your offerings - a trait worth appreciating if you are serious about elevating your service levels through honest customer feedback.
At LiveSalesman, we specialize in multilingual support, including call center services in German. Our call center agents are fluent in both written and spoken English and German. Moreover, we do not limit our German customer support services to phone alone and also extend support to live chat, mobile and social media. Furthermore, we have the capability to offer your German callers round-the-clock support to ensure they are never left wanting for service because of time difference or limited hours of operation. Reach out to us today to find out how you can leverage our German call center service to add more value to your business without breaking the bank!
Publish Date: November 27, 2018 5:00 AM
For businesses with a global footprint, managing a geographically dispersed customer base means much more than overcoming language barriers. It also entails adapting to the cultural differences of your international audience and meeting the latter’s expectation from customer service. Cultural nuances vary from region to region. What may be the norm for people of a particular social group may not be relevant to those from a different geographical territory. The same holds true for the French culture. It has its own peculiarities and subtleties that you must bear in mind when strategizing your French call center services. Here are a few of the dos and don’ts that will hold your French call center team in good stead when dealing with the Mesdames and Messieurs.
The famous saying of “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is also applicable to telephonic conversations. So what if you are not having face-to-face interactions in the land of CHANEL, Hermes and LOUIS VUITTON? You still need to make an effort to uphold the conventions of the area if you genuinely wish to provide exemplary call center services in French. It is common knowledge that the French love their language and hold it in high regards. So much so that their pride may translate into your French callers not being willing to converse in any other language. In such scenarios, a heartfelt apology for not knowing the language or not perfecting it to the level of a native may get your support staff some consolation points.
Even if your French callers are comfortable with your agents communicating in English, the sheer range of dialects can mean they are unable to comprehend your team’s way of speaking the English language and find it strange or confusing. So, it is advisable that your customer service associates don’t make use of idioms and colloquialisms that are specific to their local regions.
Offering multilingual support is an effective way to replicate the experience of a French caller when contacting a customer service team in France. Seeking the services of a company like LiveSalesman can greatly benefit you here. LiveSalesman is a leading provider of multilingual customer contact solutions which include French customer support. Employing bilingual call center agents who are fluent in both English and French, its 24/7 French call center can help you render the desired level of service as expected by your high-quality-seeking French customers.
Known to be private people, the French usually keep their personal and professional lives separate. While they feel comfortable loosening up in front of their family and close friends, the scenario is different in their business dealings - characterized by a high degree of formality in verbal and written communications. When engaging in rapport building activities such as small talk, be sure to keep the tone of your conversations formal and professional. Avoid getting too personal too soon or revealing too much too early. Neither of the two is desirable or appreciated. Similarly, respect your French customers’ need for privacy and refrain from asking intrusive questions that may be discomforting to them.
Bringing politics into your conversations or talking about money matters and religion is also a strict ‘no-no’ in the French business culture. Unless the caller himself or herself initiates such topics, it’s wise to steer your discussions towards relatively neutral subjects such as food, art, culture, music, and movies. Generally, humor and wit are well-received if you use them in the right context or setting. Exercise caution when cracking a joke as it may not go down well with the situation or the timing may be inappropriate.
Your support team may think the cultural peculiarities, as mentioned above, are too subtle to make any difference in their day-to-day interactions with French callers. What they may not realize is that taking care of these nuances can positively impact the experience of your French customers when they contact your French call center. Hence, make sure you bake these cultural uniquenesses into your service guidelines when preparing to deliver call center services in French.
Backed with over 15 years of experience, LiveSalesman specializes in French call center services for diverse and global businesses. Its omnichannel French customer support team comprises native French speakers who are well-versed with the French culture and regional accents of France. Hence, it becomes easier for them to strike a natural conversation that does not sound forced or fake to your French-speaking callers.
Every customer contact is an opportunity to reinforce your brand and garner customer loyalty. Likewise, addressing your callers in the right manner is essential for projecting a professional image of your business. The use of honorific titles is ingrained in the French culture. French business etiquette dictates the use of a “Monsieur” or “Madame” followed by the last name when addressing someone who you are not well acquainted with. This is regardless of a person’s rank or position.
In France, it’s not the norm to be on a first-name basis with someone unless told to do so. Only family members and those in one’s inner circle enjoy this privilege. Referring to a young French woman as “Mademoiselle” is perfectly acceptable socially but not when the setting is a professional one. ‘Bonjour’, ‘Bonsoir’ and ‘Bonne Journée’ are standard French greetings and equivalent for “Good morning”, “Good afternoon” and “Have a good day”.
Whether to use “tu” or vous” is the dilemma of many non-native speakers. Both mean the same, i.e. “you”. However, the first is an informal version of “you” while “vous” is the formal variant and mandated in business communication. You can get away with an incorrectly used “vous” instead of “tu” but the other way round can offend a French person if you are not close enough with him or her. Ensuring this degree of familiarity with French greetings and expressions can be challenging for your support staff if they don’t boast expertise in French customer support - a niche area. Partnering with LiveSalesman can be a wise move to create memorable customer experiences with the help of cost-effective and experienced French call center services.
Dealing with the French can be both pleasant and startling for you and your team. On the one hand, the French can instantly put you at ease with their courteous and respectful nature. On the other hand, they can take you by surprise with their straightforward approach. Asking probing questions to decipher the underlying meaning of what is being said is something that comes naturally to them. Clarity of thought, good debating skills, keen attention to details and logical reasoning are a few of the traits that appeal to their intellect. Famous as good conversationalists, the French have a thing for brainy discussions which can turn into spirited conversations in no time. Hence, don’t be taken aback if you suddenly find yourself embroiled in a lively exchange!
It is not unusual for the average French person to enjoy a good debate more than idle chit-chat. So, coach your team not to get upset if their attempts to make small talk fall flat on French callers. Conversely, the support agents offering call center services in French can look forward to some intellectually stimulating discussions during the course of their day.
Considering how detail-oriented the French are, it’s not surprising that they like to analyze business proposals in depth and at length. Patience is required when attempting to close business deals as making hasty and on-the-spot decisions is not something that the French are used to or that sits well with them. Their direct nature also makes them unappreciative of hyperbole. Tall and false claims are sure turn-offs. Thus, it will be wise of your support team to ensure they are not getting into an overtly pushy mode or resorting to pressurizing sales techniques when trying to upsell or cross-sell products and services to your French callers.
It goes without saying that there’s a lot that needs to be factored in when planning the ideal support framework to serve your French customers. Running a full-fledged, in-house French call center, replete with native speakers, may not be an economically viable option for you, especially if your business is starting out or yet to assume the scale of a self-sufficient establishment. Also, bear in mind that providing top-notch French call center services is not just about timely and accurate responses to calls and emails. It’s also about an all-encompassing support package that covers all possible modes of customer contact, including live chat, mobile and social media.
At LiveSalesman, we pride ourselves on our high-end multilingual customer contact solutions that can address the needs of different industries and business lines. Contact us today to know more about how our call center services in French can elevate the experience of your French customers.
Publish Date: November 19, 2018 5:00 AM
As more and more businesses go online or opt for a multi-channel retail approach, the need to bolster’s one’s online reputation with excellent customer care support service has become non-negotiable. When it comes to providing top-notch customer support, the underlying principles remain the same - regardless of whether you are operating a brick-and-mortar store or an e-commerce site. However, e-commerce customer service has its nuances that are quite different from that of in-store customer support. The differences may manifest themselves in support timings (unlike physical stores that have fixed operating hours, virtual stores are open round-the-clock), support tools, or the customer service approach itself. So, how can you ensure that the service you are providing online is translating into an experience that’s worth repeating for your customers? Read on to know more.
You can only design an optimal online support framework provided you have a fair understanding of what your customers are looking for in the context of support. Customer needs vary from one to the other, based on their personal preferences and what they are buying. For example, some online shoppers are not a fan of lengthy wait times and seek prompt customer care support service in the form of live chat for real-time responses. Others are more comfortable with conventional support modes such as phone and email. Knowing your customers’ wants up front will help you serve them better using appropriate support channels that do not come across as alien or cumbersome to your online shoppers.
Live chat customer support is especially handy when you wish to recreate the experience of shopping in a physical store under the expert guidance of a store assistant. When offering live chat support, the idea is to provide friendly, timely and round-the-clock service to your online visitors. Failing to do so may lead to unhappy customers - detrimental to your e-commerce business and brand image. Hence, make sure your chat support has dedicated personnel in place to keep the conversations going even at ungodly hours.
If you are considering a phone & email support system with a global client base in mind, you cannot but not factor in cultural nuances as they are instrumental in generating pleasant user experiences. Employing the services of native speakers can translate to smoother customer interactions as natives are well-versed with colloquialisms and local consumer traits which can make the conversations seem more credible to your international callers.
Likewise, when providing email support, ask yourself what kind of image do you want to portray to your online shoppers? If you are an up-and-coming brand, you may want to create the impression of a young, fun company. On the other hand, a formal and sophisticated tone would be apt for your business if it is a premium brand catering to an upscale market. Ensuring the right kind of tone that is consistent with your company’s image is crucial when assisting customers as it can amplify or diminish your brand’s credibility.
Still unsure of what could be the right support channel for your business? Why not entail the professional services of reputed customer service outsourcing companies such as LiveSalesman that offers an array of result-driven e-commerce customer service solutions? Initiate a chat to speak to one of its support agents in real time or submit your requirements online for an advisor to get in touch with you.
Responsiveness to customers’ needs, wants, and problems is a tangible demonstration of exemplary customer care support service. In today’s fast-paced and tech-driven world, customers look for timely and swift responses, more so when shopping online. They are too busy to be left waiting for a reply. Neither do they have the time nor inclination to go back and forth indefinitely, chasing your support team for an answer or resolution. Delaying responses, providing incomplete/inaccurate solutions, or not replying at all are traits of poor online customer support. Your customers may give your business a second chance to rectify mistakes; however, they may not be willing to go easy if you don’t value their time. Hence, coach your support team to show a sense of urgency when dealing with customer issues. Doing so can prevent you from losing your potential and existing customers to your competitors.
Establishing, tracking, and monitoring the right customer service metrics is essential for all modes of business - be it online or offline, or a blend of both. That’s because metrics are a good indicator of your customers’ satisfaction levels. They provide you with critical insights into your support desk’s performance. Customer satisfaction score (CSAT), average first response time, average resolution time, resolution rate, and first contact resolution (FCR) are a few of the commonly tracked metrics in customer service. When exploring reliable customer service outsourcing companies, choose one that offers robust business intelligence and reporting tools as part of its e-commerce support package. Leverage these tools to proactively identify areas of improvement/optimization and take data-backed decisions when making modifications or upgrades to your existing support processes and systems.
Gone are the days when exemplary customer service was equivalent to providing formal and speedy responses, often parroted in a matter-of-fact style and rendered via scripted replies. While a professional tone may still work with customers who like to keep things formal, the young and more informal millennial generation of today may not find it relatable. And regardless of who your target audience is, a scripted customer service style is a definite no-no. Personalized service is the need of the hour as customers no longer want to engage in conversations that come across as insincere, fake or robotic. Hence, exercise caution to avoid a stilted or cookie-cutter style in your e-commerce customer service, making sure your team’s email and chat response do not lack genuineness, warmth, or personalization.
Addressing customers by name, mirroring their tones and conversational styles, keeping customer interactions unscripted and human, and offering custom solutions tailored to one’s needs are techniques that you can exploit to build rapport and personalize a customer’s online shopping experience. They go a long way in instilling trust in first-time visitors, converting casual shoppers into lifetime buyers.
If your online business caters to a global audience, a multilingual contact center can be an apt choice to avoid communication gaps and make your French, German, or Spanish customer feel at ease when calling up support. Experienced customer service outsourcing companies like LiveSalesman specialize in cutting-edge call center solutions in a range of languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Korean, and Portuguese. Reach out to us today to find out how your business can benefit from their multilingual customer contact solutions.
It is often said that customer service is not a department; it’s an attitude. And it holds true even for online support. A customer-centric attitude or the lack of it determines how you or your team look at serving customers - whether as a privilege or as a chore. No matter what tools or knowledge base your e-commerce customer service team may have at their disposal, they cannot create customer delight without providing heartfelt service or adopting a customer-focused approach.
Unless you are a one-man army in a start-up, you probably have a full-fledged helpdesk team at your disposal. Make sure every contact with your helpdesk team is smooth and fruitful for your online shoppers by training your front-line staff well. Ensure your helpdesk team knows your business offerings inside out so that they can better assist your customers with expert advice and valuable product/service recommendations. Equip your staff with the right tools and documentation that will enable them to respond to customers faster and competently. Customers prefer dealing with support desk members who are knowledgeable and can help them make informed choices.
It is a known fact that every support team, whether online or offline, has to deal with many complex scenarios on a day-to-day basis. It is not uncommon for a customer to throw a curveball that may take an online support agent by surprise. Nothing can be more frustrating for a customer than an agent putting him or her on hold for every query or request that is not outlined in the standard operating procedures. Hence, take out time to empower your helpdesk staff and entrust them with a certain degree of autonomy with regards to decision-making. Encourage your team to look beyond the rule book and think out of the box to offer innovative but judiciously thought-through solutions to customers, without having to seek approval for every act of theirs.
Considering the inherent complexities of customer care support service and how demanding tech-savvy shoppers can be with online support, merely being helpful, responsive or consistent is not good enough. You also need to embrace technology to boost your team’s efficiency, accuracy, and productivity. Leading customer service outsourcing companies such as LiveSalesman come with years of experience in supporting e-commerce businesses with high-end yet affordable customer experience solutions. Take advantage of their creative contact center solutions that not only save you time and money but also contribute to positive customer experiences.
Publish Date: October 28, 2018 5:00 AM
Managing multicultural teams can present its own unique set of challenges and obstacles. Not only will you have to effectively manage language barriers, but there are also cultural and training barriers to overcome, as well. What may make sense to employees from a Western culture may not make sense for hires from Eastern cultures. We often of miscontrue people’s behaviour from other cultures and spend invaluable time on sorting out misunderstandings and setting expectations. The right solution to all of these types of challenges requires careful thought, cultural understanding and dexterity, and a highly diplomatic approach.
Continue reading to learn more.
The way we speak, and the words we use, are tools we use to convey our feelings, hopes, and dreams. We are all tied to our language, which is why it can be difficult traveling to a foreign country where most residents speak a different language. Now, imagine managing a multicultural team where many of the members speak a different language.
Not only do you have to make sure they understand company procedures, and policies, but you must also ensure everyone has an effective method of communicating with one another. To say this task is challenging would be an understatement. At the same time, the main language spoken at the office might be the second or third language for some employees, so they might not understand colloquialisms.
Moreover, they can unintentionally take slang and jokes the wrong way since they would interpret them in a very literal context. Not to mention, team members who are not fully comfortable in the language spoken at the office may feel out of place and less inclined to share their opinions.
Find a way to get your messages across in a way that everyone will fully understand. You can incorporate multilingual translators onto your teams. In addition, make use of functional translation software an apps. You can also offer ongoing language classes in the company’s primary language. The objective is to ensure every single team member feels included and valued. Also, try not to convey any bias towards team members who are fluent in our native tongue. Everyone should feel that they are treated fairly, regardless of what language they speak.
Similar to the language barrier, people from Eastern cultures will have varying cultural norms from those in a Western culture. For instance, a Western manager may seem too assertive, loud or direct for a team member from Japan or other Asian countries where requests are made more politely and indirectly.
On the other hand, an employee from a Western background may be more inclined to speak up when something feels wrong as opposed to someone from an Eastern culture who might have been taught to never question the boss, even when they are wrong.
These cultural barriers can lead to confusion among team members and, in the worst-case scenario, a lack of cohesion. In another example, Americans may come across as more informal and casual with the employee and manager relationship where someone from a place like Japan would prefer or is used to more formal constructs.
Take the time to learn about the different cultural norms of your team members, understand how they perceive assertiveness and communicate appropriately. Furthermore, encourage your employees to learn about their colleague’s cultures, as well.
An employee from the U.S. is often used to using many of the most popular tech offerings available today. They would need little training in this regard. On the other hand, an employee who hails from a more provincial location in another country such as China, might not be as used to working with popular American tech and software. Similarly, while it can be taken for granted that a team member for West would be fully familiar with Google search Engine while it may be completely foreign to someone from China where Baidu search engine reigns.
Just ask which technologies they’re familiar with, and which ones could benefit from more training. Then, offer classes or online training course for those who need it to ensure the entire team is up to speed and on the same page.
Cultures have different styles of making decisions. In America, managers are expected to make decisions quickly where in other cultures managers take their time for due diligence, gathering more information and often consult team members to make sure that the decision is arrived at unanimously. Furthermore, in some cultures, managers are looked upon with utmost reverence and the decisions made by them are never questioned; and, aren’t questioned by employees even when they may be wrong. So, how should decisions be made to avoid conflicting situations in culturally diverse environment?
Diverse employees will have different expectations. What you can do is to ensure every member of your multicultural teams understands your process when making decisions.
Learn about the differences of each of your team members, and then determine how decisions will be executed. Next, make it a priority to talk to each employee individually to ask how they feel about your management style and decision making process to see if they can feel comfortable with it.
Cultures have different styles of communication. As mentioned earlier, American managers tend to be more aggressive and straightforward than their Easter counterparts. For some team members, this can come across as too direct. This can also relate to cultural norms of each member of your multicultural teams.
You can’t change your style overnight. What you can do is to ensure every member of your multicultural teams understands your process when making decisions. Then, make it a priority to talk to each employee individually to ask how they feel about your management style and if they can feel comfortable with it.
The perception of motivation may vary from one culture to another. What can be motivating for you may be regarded as de-motivating for people from another culture. Trying to enforce a universal motivation and reward system based on norms and culture of your company may actually backfire and you may experience decline in employee satisfaction and efficiency level. Similarly, some people perform a lot better when they are left on their own to figure out how to get the job done while people from other cultures may find themselves groping in the dark unless the manager defines a clear roadmap for them on how to do their job.
Speak with people from different cultures individually to discover what motivates them and what extent of manager intervention is acceptable to them. Come to common grounds with them on the expected results if their suggestions are implemented and observe the impact.
Managing multicultural teams isn’t faint hearted. It requires learning, due diligence, and diplomacy. As the old saying goes: If you want to be understood, seek first to understand.
If you don’t wish to deal with the challenges of managing a culturally diverse team, consider outsourcing functions that are not core to your business, such as Multilingual customer service. Multilingual Call Centers are adept at managing people from different cultures. They understand how to reconcile these cultural differences and make everyone on the team chase the same goals despite the opposing views.
Publish Date: October 17, 2018 5:00 AM