The Impact of Language Barriers on Customer Service

by | Communication, Language Training, Leadership

When it comes to customer service, language barriers can be some of the biggest obstacles businesses face. Miscommunication can lead to frustration on both sides, often resulting in customers not getting the help they need.

Over 7,000 different languages are spoken around the world. This can pose a significant problem for businesses trying to provide customer service in multiple languages.

Even if a business is able to hire customer service representatives who speak the same language as their customers, there is no guarantee that they will be able to understand each other perfectly. After all, even people who speak the same language can have difficulty understanding one another if they are from different regions or socio-economic backgrounds.

The problem is compounded by the fact that most businesses do not have the budget to hire customer service representatives who speak every language under the sun. As a result, they are forced to make do with what they have. This often leads to frustrating situations for both the customer and the representative.

How Language Barriers Affect Customer Service

Language barriers can have a direct impact on customer service in a number of ways:

Miscommunication. Language barriers can make it difficult for employees to understand customer needs. This can lead to inaccurate information being given or customers not receiving the help they need.

Poor customer satisfaction. Customers may feel that their needs are not being met if they cannot understand the customer service representative. This can lead to poor customer satisfaction and a negative view of the company.

Poor Communication in the Workplace Trickles Down to the Customer

While the direct impact of language barriers on customer service is obvious, it is worth noting that the indirect impact can be just as significant. Poor communication in the workplace can trickle down to the customer.

Inefficient workflows. Poor communication can lead to inefficient workflows and a lack of clarity about who is responsible for what. This can lead to customers being shuffled around and not getting the help they need in a timely manner.

Lack of teamwork. Poor communication can lead to a lack of teamwork and a feeling of isolation among employees. This can lead to employees feeling disengaged and less likely to go the extra mile for customers.

Ways to Overcome Language Barriers in Customer Service

While the challenges posed by language barriers in customer service are significant, there are several ways to overcome them.

Provide training on cultural competence. Cultural competence is the ability to understand and work with people from different cultures. Providing training on cultural competence can help employees overcome language barriers by teaching them how to effectively communicate with people from different backgrounds.

Provide workplace language training. Workplace language training can help employees learn the language they need to effectively communicate with coworkers and customers. Everything from basic work-related communication to common customer service phrases can be covered in online language courses or onsite language workshops.

Corporate Language Solutions from Workplace Languages

At Workplace Language, we offer corporate language solutions to help you close the communication gaps in your company. Check out our translation and other language services, as well as our language training offerings, where we can help your employees overcome language barriers and provide better customer service. Contact us today to learn more!

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