Why does cultural diversity matter in customer support?
Remote teams are diverse by nature. But how do you create a more diverse workplace and what can cultural diversity do for your customers?
03 May
5 min read
cultural diversity in customer support

We live in a connected world. One so interlinked that the Black Lives Matter movement put the spotlight on existing racial inequalities in just a few days.

Today, there is a rising demand for businesses to stand up for representation in the workplace.

With companies up for public scrutiny 24/7, paying lip service to inclusion policies isn’t enough. You have to back up your words or risk the public misjudging your values.

Consumers are aware of whether their favourite brands are embracing diversity. And if you want to deliver premium customer support, you need a workforce that offers the comfort of shared culture.

But it isn’t too late to authentically level things up in your remote customer service operation.

After all, everything starts somewhere.

Why you need a diverse workforce

Striving for more cultural diversity in your team isn’t just a “woke” catchphrase.

Your customer base is full of people from all cultures and ethnicities, and being insensitive about their varying perspectives won’t get you far.

Customers want better diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Research by Kantar found that a third of all global customers agreed that “not enough brands do a good job of representing my community.”

Your company’s future could be at risk from a lack of cultural diversity. Consider Gen Z: As a generation shaping the coming times, you’ll jeopardise your growth by alienating them.

Diversity can influence how successful your business is. McKinsey’s research shows that racial and ethnic diversity will give you a 36% higher probability of outperforming your competitors.

And it’s not just about the numbers. 

People with other backgrounds bring more to your company: new ideas, new visions, new insights, new opinions, and new experiences.

In the polyculture world of today, diversity is the main discussion point. And it isn’t enough just acknowledging it exists: you need to embrace it.

The advantages of cultural diversity in customer service

In remote customer service, you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach and have customers feel comfortable and understood. 

Ways of speech, communication, languages, and behaviour differ from country to country. The essence of customer support is to serve customers in ways that make sense to them. 

Embracing cultural diversity lets your agents:

👉🏽 Respond to global customers

Even throwing in a few key phrases from their language can build better rapport with customers. Doing so will make them consider you one of their own, no matter where your customer lives.

👉🏻 Respect cultural differences

Knowing how cultures differ helps your team tailor international support. 

More reserved cultures — e.g., Germany — prefer direct, to-the-point communication. Informal cultures, on the other hand — e.g., the U.S.A. — are happier with a more casual, friendly manner.

👉🏿 Apply emotional sensitivity

Cultural awareness lets agents recognise and handle customer emotions appropriately. 

In ‘emotional’ cultures — e.g., Italy — sharing feelings is a sign of warmth and trust. In more ‘neutral’ cultures — e.g., Japan — such emotionality could be considered unprofessional.

How to increase cultural sensitivity within your team

Understanding and adapting to cultural differences is critical if you want your customers to feel you care about them. 

You must recruit a culturally diverse team while also helping your existing team function as a unit working towards one goal: creating a safe customer support space.

Try to:

👉🏼 Share culture-specific knowledge

Prompt your agents to pay attention to customer locations. Displaying geographical location on agent interfaces will help them apply relevant cultural understanding and allow more sensitivity in responses.

👉🏾 Coach your agents to mirror culture patterns

If a customer is more informal and chatty, agents should match this tone in their response and vice versa if the customer is more formal.

👉🏽 Encourage the sharing of cultural experience

Encourage openness and acceptance of diverse views within your team. Every agent will have access to richer cultural knowledge from their colleagues, which can benefit your customer service.

You could even hire people with matching backgrounds to help specific customers. e.g., a German living in Sri Lanka for German customer support or a Dutch speaker in Portugal for Dutch. 

The future is better with cultural diversity

As a business, it’s your responsibility to create an environment where people from diverse cultures feel equally valued and supported. 

When you can authentically connect with your customers, you have happier customers that help your business grow.

Gartner’s research finds that employees are happier in a diverse workforce as it increases their reason to stay with the company by 20%. 

If you’re finding it hard to find diverse talent on your doorstep, you can find agents from various backgrounds through Cocoroco. We source the best quality agents who are qualified, pre-assessed, and ready to work.

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