How to Bridge The Gap in a Multilingual Environment

Confusion can be the cause for major friction in an multilingual environment of customer care centres.

What steps should supervisors undertake in order to maximise efficiency and which methodology should they adapt in order to bridge the multilingual gap.

Common language

Most multilingual contact centres have a “business language” – the one that is used in standard day-to-day communication amongst all employees. The problem with this approach is, that in order for it to function smoothly all employees need to speak the language at the same level.

You need to allow some “accommodation time” for the new employees, let them adapt and learn. Remember language skills we learnt at school don’t necessarily transfer to a work environment.

Leave no room for misinterpretation

This is the most important step when it comes down to managing and excelling in this kind of environment, leave no room for misinterpretation at all cost.

Be precise and to the point. In regards to new hires, keep it simple and try to not overburden them with irrelevant information.

Details matter

If you want to run an efficient multilingual contact centre, offer guidance and thorough explanation of each task.

Be patient and flexible, remember the language barrier is not the only hurdle you’ll encounter. Different nationalities can interpret information differently. Keep trying until your staff can clearly understand the task at hand. Cover each and every detail of a project if you have to.

Don’t be afraid to change your approach

If you notice that your message isn’t getting across don’t be afraid to change it. Repeating it over and over again won’t do any good. Notice what words you’re using – see if you could re-phrase the message.

Try explaining the task from a different point of view as being repetitive is frustrating for all parties involved.

Visual aids

When explaining a difficult and complex project to the team, use visual aids alongside regular explanation of what is expected. This will provide amazing results in the long run.

Use screen-shots, charts or infographics. Be creative, but try not to overwhelm them with the visualisations.

Confirm and explain

Always make sure that people understand you, confirm that by letting them explain things back at you. The best employee is the one that isn’t afraid to ask questions regarding the task or the project. Make sure that your team understands that. Be patient, you will be amazed how often the first explanation is often misunderstood.

Explain buzzwords and industry lingo

Always explain industry lingo and buzzwords when assigning people to new tasks or teams. Keep in mind that different nationalities will at times use different terms and abbreviations.

To avoid potential confusion, agree on one standard definition.

A simple thank you goes a long way

Try to learn some phrases in languages commonly used by your agents and supervisors, even if the business language is English. Showing your employees that you’re making effort and that you value their culture will go a long way. Sometimes, simple phrases like “thank you” or “good morning” will boost morale and will bond you with co-workers.

If you are thinking of undertaking a management position in a multilingual environment such as a contact centre, don’t be off put by the initial language barrier problems. The multicultural environment and diversity outweigh the initial minor frustrations by tenfold – be flexible, adapt and overcome.

Keep The Leadership Framework Simple

The concept of what constitutes as “high performance” isn’t new to customer care experts, unfortunately implementation methods are in need of tweaking.

Depending on the objectives set by the higher echelon of managers and the frame of reference used , the definition of high performance can vary and will have many different iterations and interpretations. Most of the time however, high performance correlates with staff engagement levels and returns on shareholder’s investments – contentment and satisfaction.

Leadership framework

We should ask ourselves if we are focusing our efforts on the tasks which provide maximum return value.

Simple and clear expectations

Make the team aware of what is expected – this is your number one priority as a leader. You don’t want your employees guessing what their goals are (and that’s the best case scenario).

Those expectations should be: clear, simple and actionable, but at the same time refined to fit each team or project separately.

Everyone needs to know exactly how they can help. Positive reinforcement is also a great morale booster – everyone’s contribution to the project is valued.

Leave no room for interpretation, this will remove confusion and will lead to greater understanding of the expectation – it will unify the team on a personal level. Working for the common goal.

Provide support

Our role isn’t complete after setting transparent expectations, we need to provide support for our staff; guide and help them gain the needed knowledge in order to complete the desired goal.

We can support our employees in multiple ways: feedback collection, coaching, training and development through courses. We need to equip our agents and managers with the best tools of the trade, to not only meet the required expectations, but to excel.

Relevant feedback provides great insight on performance, and coaching will reinforce positive behaviour.

Reinforce consequences

Positive reinforcement plays a key role in proper employee management. It might sound trivial, but it’s up you to determine what behaviour as well as corresponding consequences will be accepted or reprimanded – either directly or indirectly. If you want certain patterns replicated, you need to reward employees and the actions that led to them. At the same time manage those falling short of mark appropriately.

…and more

The points mentioned above are just a simple framework that can be used by leaders, supervisors and managers to define boundaries within which they operate.

Contact and call centres are a highly measurable environment, thanks to the metrics used to evaluate all aspects of its functions. High performance should be achievable if you: set expectations, provide support and utilise consequences to reinforce desired behaviour.

Your main role as a leader is to make the message clear.

The 12 Types of People Who Wreck Your Meetings

Who doesn’t enjoy a good, productive meeting?

At times it seems to be all but a luxury, as all it takes for a meeting to devolve into a downwards spiral of unproductive doom is just one person.

Oh you definitely know at least one such person, presumably more than one.
We’re speaking about those who make meetings unbearable, bordering on miserable.

Weekdone’s latest SlideShare introduces the types of people who kill the productivity of your meetings. Get to know them in order to easily contain them, well before they manage to sabotage your time and suck all the productivity out:

 

Positive Reinforcement Works Wonders

Have you noticed how most quality-monitoring systems overly focus on things agents do wrong?

You most certainly did, but what can you do to change it? The negative scoring schemes need to be counter-balanced by positive reinforcement tactics.

The benefits of positive reinforcement are often undervalued but in the long run they’re vastly more important than negative scoring.

If you spot agents doing something right, highlight it.

The agent will feel appreciated, and you will be able to highlight areas he needs to improve in without causing stress, thus driving positive change. Everybody wins 🙂