Bad call centre experiences due to cultural and language barriers

Customer service has always been a vital tool for companies when it comes to retaining existing customers, and more so now than ever before, attracting new ones.

In this age of social media, customer service has become increasingly significant. Unsatisfactory customer service tales can spread like wildfire on Twitter and Facebook pages, leaving companies with red faces and damaged reputations within hours of a bad customer experience.

But what is the most common customer service complaint? What constant obstacle do customers come up against, which they say, is the last straw before moving their custom elsewhere?

Bad call centre experiences.

Complaints of long waiting times, rude call handlers and technical failures are amongst the top grievances when discussing call centres, but one issue that has escalated significantly over the last few years has been language and culture barriers.

Call centres are increasingly being sent overseas, resulting in a workforce from foreign cultures handling callers who may speak a different language and expect a different service.

To solve this problem, companies have been turning to training seminars that tackle ‘cross-cultural sensitivity’. This type of training aims to help call handlers become more comfortable, and therefore more confident, in dealing with their target markets.

The seminars cover all aspects of handling callers from a different culture sensitively, including how to identify and respond to culture clues and how to improve pragmatic aspects of communication.

The tools learnt and practiced in ‘cross-cultural sensitivity training’ allow companies with foreign call centres to tackle this increasing customer service problem head on. It helps companies to avoid the damaging effects that bad customer service can bring to their brand by training their staff to correctly deal with different cultures, resulting in an excellent service and happy customers.

2 thoughts on “Bad call centre experiences due to cultural and language barriers

  1. It happens with US-based call centers too I am an American who is currently living in Abu Dhabi and had to call a US company with a midwestern call center to schedule and insurance-required health check. I had to explain that if she called me back she needed to be aware of the time difference. She then said that they could not call me internationally – didn’t know how and wouldn’t be allowed to anyway. Then she got all worked about my being in a “dangerous place” and “how could I deal with the hang to were a burkha” etc. I explained that Abu Dhabi is in the UAE and those stereo types don’t apply to living here but she went on and on about how they might have a problem issuing me life insurance because I lived here. Her lack of knowledge about the world and world events was nearly as absurd as her inability to listen and learn. If I had had a choice, I would have definitely not used that company.

    • Wow! What a stark example of the importance of cultural training in call centres! Thanks for sharing your interesting (and absurd) experience, Michele!

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