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Why customer service managers need to learn a foreign language

Faith Ocampo
March 8, 2017

boss conducting meeting with culturally diverse business team

Multilingual employees are sought after everywhere in the world and across industries. But should managers learn foreign languages, too?

Customer support firms gain an array of advantages by employing a multilingual workforce. It not only lets them communicate effectively with their multicultural clients, it also enables them to build meaningful relationships unhampered by lingual gaps.
This, of course, is especially beneficial for the brands they represent, as they get to successfully capture diverse markets in various parts of the world.
But while we’re too focused on exploring the advantages of having polyglot employees, we’re overlooking the potential of bilingualism or multilingualism to augment team leaders’ management skills.
Sure enough, fluency in one or more foreign languages isn’t something we’d usually count as a desirable leadership quality. But call center managers will find it handy at many points in their career. Here are four reasons why you need to learn a new language or two.
 

1.     Win new clients.

businessman shaking hands foreign business partner

Although being well-versed in several languages isn’t an exact indicator of one’s professional competence, such a skill would allow you to converse with people from other cultures. This is particularly useful during meetings with potential outsourcing clients and business partners. If you can speak their language, you’d easily gain their trust and approval. You’ll also find it effortless to clarify your messages and understand their needs. This will help set a positive and friendly tone for your future relationship and interactions.

 

2.     Understand your target market.

customer service rep looking closely examining globe with magnifying lens

Granted, multilingualism and cultural sensitivity are two vastly different skills. The former merely involves knowing how to speak and write in multiple languages. The latter, on the other hand, is about being aware of and respecting the differences between various cultures.

Learning a foreign language, however, will get you one step closer to understanding the communication nuances of your target market. After you’ve mastered their native tongue, therefore, the next step is to study their traditions, practices, and beliefs—everything related to their culture. This will let you create a customer support strategy that encapsulates the preferences of your clients.

 

3.     Relate better with employees.

call center team manager chatting laughing with customer service employee

Culturally diverse teams are difficult to handle. If team leaders fail to build the right environment for a multicultural call center, a lot of friction and disagreements may occur among agents. While this could be healthy at first, it may soon become counterproductive if not effectively addressed.

Here’s where bilingualism or multilingualism can help you. As part of your management skills, you must be able to understand your employees’ needs, which is a lot easier if you know the language they speak. This will allow you to listen to and consider everyone’s sentiments equally. From here, you can calibrate your team dynamics and encourage your staff to build better relationships.

 

4.     Boost your mental skills.

intelligent call center agent assisting customer service caller

Several studies have proven that bilingualism and multilingualism can keep the brain healthy. For instance, it’s been positively linked to creativity and one’s ability to solve complex problems. It can also improve your listening skills, analytical thinking, and memory. All these can enhance your professional skills and even your leadership qualities.

 
 

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