The rise in digital technologies has broadened communications channels at a rapid pace – generating new ways of connecting with customers. Simultaneously, brands are striving to deliver the best customer experience (CX) and are increasingly looking to enable positive interactions at every touch point on the customer journey, with recent Gartner research finding that “89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience.”

There is a direct connection between CX and omni-lingual support in contact centres. Consumers rely on contact centres to resolve their issues and rapidly respond to their questions. From retail to finance, no matter the industry, it is critical that during these interactions contact centres provide the CX and service that consumers are looking for – and language plays a major role in driving this. Yet according to figures from the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), only 19% of organisations can support customers of any language (Lost In Translation: Leveraging Language to Deliver an Exceptional Customer Experience). And, only over the phone – consumers’ least preferred communications channel according to Forrester (Contact Centers Must Go Digital Or Die).

A huge opportunity is being missed both in terms of driving profitability and brand loyalty. As the industry evolves, see below the top five trends driving the uptake of sophisticated multilingual strategies in contact centres.

Multi/Omni-Channel Is a Must

Consumer preferences for digital and self-service communications has caused the industry to evolve fast. Today, voice has given way to interacting across multiple channels during a single journey. From a language perspective, many contact centres haven’t kept pace, often limiting their support to voice only. While over-the-phone interpretation is an effective strategy, organisations need to consider providing multilingual support across a broader range of communications channels. If not, they risk alienating their non-primary language customers.

A Culture of Self-Service

Indicative of today’s culture, customers and particularly millennials, expect self-service. This requires brands to provide chat, website, forum and mobile support. Online chat is a critical component of effective customer engagement, with Forrester reporting that 55% of consumers are inclined to abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their question or pursue a live chat option.

These self-service channels need to be enabled with omni-lingual capabilities to provide the most benefit.

If the majority of content is presented in only a single or select group of languages, the channel isn’t helping non­primary language speakers. This premise links directly to brand loyalty and sales – with the Common Sense Advisory finding, “74% [of customers] say that they’re more likely to purchase the same brand again if the after-sales care is in their language.”

High Expectations Including 24/7 Support

All day and all night support has become an assumed and valued expectation for consumers, including the ability to connect through channels such as mobile and social media in real time, regardless of the time or day of the week. Forrester reports that 77% of respondents say valuing their time is the most important thing a brand or company can do to provide superior online customer service.

By providing a toolbox of multilingual channel options, brands are in a much better position to provide that 24/7 support across their client base. Additionally, providing language support through self­service and digital channels reduces the amount of inbound calls, which in turn drives down OPI costs. This is a win­win situation for both consumers and brands who have a shared objective of customer satisfaction and the end result – a purchase.

Unified Platform Adoption

Contact centres are often reliant on a myriad of communication platforms to drive their business. These typically don’t provide broad language support, especially as it relates to localisation of the agent desktop, which puts brands at a language management disadvantage when it comes to supporting mono-lingual agents.

The Rise of Internet of Things and Machine-To-Machine

As the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine communication (M2M) become more common, the volume of related contact centre interactions is simultaneously climbing. While it’s difficult to predict what devices, channels and platforms IoT and M2M will affect, contact centres need to be prepared for proactive outreach across all languages to ensure a truly global approach. This links closely to globalisation – as the world becomes increasingly connected, the distinction between domestic and global is shrinking. Savvy, fast growth companies understand this and are managing their contact centres accordingly – with multilingual support a priority.

These trends in the contact centre marketplace are being driven primarily by rising customer interactions and expectations, creating more opportunities than ever before for brands to capitalise on this activity. This, in turn, is transforming multilingual support in contact centres from a benefit to a requirement.

The good news is contact centres are in a great position to provide the multichannel and omni-lingual experiences that consumers expect.

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