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.