21 February
12 min read

Multilingual Support: A Guide to Finding & Retaining Agents

Multilingual customer service agents are hard to find and retain. Read our guide on how to find and keep the best agents out there.
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Have you ever considered the importance of multilingual customer support agents in today’s globalised world?

It’s crucial that your business can communicate with your customers in multiple languages, but finding and keeping multilingual customer service agents can be a real challenge.

For starters, there may be limited language education and training opportunities, making it challenging for candidates to learn a second language or develop their language skills to the level required for a customer support role. And even if they have the language skills, providing customer support in multiple languages requires a unique set of skills, like understanding cultural nuances and customer sentiment, which takes extra training and certification.

Finding the right talent can be even harder when the pool of candidates with the necessary language skills is limited. Plus, the high-stress nature of customer support can lead to high burnout rates among multilingual agents, and without career advancement opportunities, they may start looking elsewhere.

Additionally, many companies may lack the resources and incentives to offer multilingual agents career advancement opportunities, leading to low morale and job satisfaction. This can cause agents to seek other options, leading to a high staffing turnover rate among multilingual customer support agents.

The bottom line is, finding and retaining full-time multilingual customer support agents can be a genuine hurdle for businesses to overcome. But it’s necessary, as having these agents on your team can make all the difference in providing excellent customer support for your clientele.

Let’s take a closer look at why the demand for multilingual customer service agents is as high as it is today.

The demand for multilingual customer service representatives

The demand for multilingual customer service representatives is rising as the world becomes increasingly connected through global trade and e-commerce. Customer bases are also becoming more diverse, with customers from around the globe seeking products and services from companies in other countries.

If your business is expanding its reach to new markets, you need customer support agents who can communicate with a diverse range of customers in their native languages.

Such service is significant in industries like travel and hospitality, where personal interactions are often a vital part of the customer experience. By communicating with customers in their preferred language, these industries can provide a better customer experience and build stronger relationships with their international customer base.

The ability to speak multiple languages is crucial in providing excellent customer service, as customers expect a seamless and personalised experience, regardless of where they’re located. Furthermore, with the globalisation of the economy and the rapid growth of e-commerce, the need for multilingual customer service will only continue to increase in the coming years.

Multilingual customer service can also be a major asset for tech and software companies, which often need to support customers worldwide.

However, businesses are facing significant shortages in the talent pool of multilingual customer service agents. As a business, you need to understand why so that you can adopt specific strategies designed to help leverage your business above the competition.

But first, to formulate a strategy, we need to understand the problem.

The shortage of multilingual customer service agents

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The shortage of full-time multilingual customer service agents has become a significant issue for businesses worldwide.

Why do most companies prefer to hire customer service agents who are native speakers of the languages their customer base speaks? The answer is simple; native speakers typically have a better understanding of the culture and customs associated with that language, which makes them better equipped to handle customer inquiries and complaints, pick up on nuances, and build rapport with customers.

Adobe surveyed almost 6,000 consumers and over 900 senior business leaders across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The findings presented one clear message: trust must now be treated as a business imperative and demands priority ⁠— regardless of industry or company size.

And while the demand for agents who can speak multiple languages has skyrocketed, the pool of qualified candidates is limited. Let’s explore some possible reasons for this shortage.

Lack of education and training opportunities

One reason for the shortage of multilingual agents could be the lack of language education and training opportunities, making it difficult to develop the necessary language skills that would be useful in a customer support role.

The easiest way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in it. For example, if you can’t speak Spanish well, living in Spain for a few months will force you to pick it up rather quickly. Or, if you’re in the Netherlands, hearing and having to communicate in Dutch to do everyday activities trains your brain more quickly than trying to learn the language via an app or online.

However, only a few customer service agents have the chance to immerse themselves among fluent speakers. While technology and the internet are helpful tools here, nothing can replace practising a new language in real-time and in the real world.

Limited pool of candidates with the necessary language skills

The increasing demand for multilingual customer service agents has led to a competitive job market, making it even harder for businesses to find the talent they need. As a result, many companies are finding a limited pool of candidates with the necessary language skills to meet their needs, which can be a considerable obstacle in providing excellent customer support to a diverse customer base.

This shortage significantly impacts businesses, leading to reduced customer satisfaction (CSAT), increased costs associated with recruiting and training agents, and even potential loss of business.

High demand for multilingual customer service agents

As the global economy grows, so does the demand for multilingual customer service agents. As a result, companies are searching for employees who can communicate with customers in their native language, and the pool of qualified candidates is shrinking.

Companies are offering higher salaries and better benefits packages to compete for the best talent, leading to a bidding war for multilingual customer service agents. And many others are struggling to keep up.

The shortage of multilingual customer service agents is a global problem that will only worsen as demand increases. As a business, you need to start thinking about attracting and retaining the best employees. Otherwise, you’ll be left behind in the competition for top talent.

Let’s look at what this shortage means and the challenges businesses face as a consequence.

The risks businesses face by failing to provide multilingual customer support

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Studies show that 29% of businesses have reported customer churn for not providing multilingual support. Companies that fail to provide multilingual customer support risk losing out on customers who are more likely to support brands with customer service representatives that can communicate in their native language.

Customer experience is a crucial differentiator in today’s global marketplace. Consumers are no longer loyal to just one brand and aren’t afraid to switch brands if they’re not happy with the service they’re receiving.

Customer acquisition is indeed more expensive than customer retention, but it’s still commonly overlooked by many companies today. Additionally, failing to offer support in customers’ native languages when operating in multiple markets increases the likelihood that they’ll switch to a different product or service.

Retention challenges 

Multilingual customer support agents are essential for businesses that want to offer excellent customer service in multiple languages. However, these employees can be difficult to retain due to several factors.

High-stress nature of support roles

The high turnover rate among customer support agents can be attributed to the high-stress nature of the customer support role, leading to burnout and decreased job satisfaction among agents. The role of a customer support agent involves handling customer complaints, answering inquiries, and resolving technical issues, which can be demanding and emotionally draining.

On top of this, they often work in fast-paced, high-pressure environments with tight deadlines and demanding customers, which can take a toll on their well-being and lead to burnout. As a result, many customer support agents quit or change their job type, leading to a high turnover rate. Statistically, the customer service industry has the highest employee turnover rate of all businesses. According to QATC, findings have placed it as high as 45%.

Limited career advancement opportunities

To make matters worse, many companies may not have the resources or incentives to offer career advancement opportunities. Generally, these agents start in entry-level positions and lack the opportunities to move up within the company. As a result, they may start searching for alternative job postings with better integration opportunities — leading to a high turnover rate within inbound support teams.

Low morale and job satisfaction

Finally, low morale and job satisfaction can lead to turnover among multilingual customer support agents. Employees who are unhappy with their jobs are more likely to leave, which makes it challenging to keep good talent on staff.

These challenges highlight the need for innovative solutions to address the shortage of multilingual customer service agents and ensure businesses can provide quality customer service jobs in a globalised market.

5 Strategies to overcome the challenges of finding and retaining multilingual CS agents

As a business, you can overcome the challenges of finding and retaining multilingual customer service agents by implementing several strategies. We’ve put together a few worth discussing.

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 1. Invest in language education and training

Investing in language education and training for your customer support team can significantly impact your business. By improving language skills, your agents can better connect with customers and understand their needs, leading to happier and more loyal customers. This training will also give your agents the tools they need to easily tackle tough customer problems, making the customer care support process smoother and faster.

Offering contact centre support in multiple languages can open new doors for your business and give you an edge in the market. Ultimately, by investing in language education and training, you’ll provide better service to your customers and see a more confident and engaged support team as they improve their communication skills.

2. Offering career advancement opportunities

Consider offering career advancement opportunities to your customer support agents; it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. Not only does it boost job satisfaction and motivation for the agents, but it also leads to better performance and happier customers.

Plus, offering opportunities for growth within your company helps to keep top talent on board and reduces turnover. Finally, let’s not forget that a well-rounded and knowledgeable support team can only enhance the overall quality of customer service.

By investing in your customer support agents and giving them opportunities to grow, your business can enjoy the benefits of increased employee engagement, satisfied customers, and improved bottom-line results.

3. Prioritising employee well-being and job satisfaction

When putting employee well-being and job satisfaction at the top of your list, you’ll see major benefits in terms of customer service and overall success. Happy employees are naturally more likely to provide top-notch customer service, increasing customer satisfaction.

Plus, creating a supportive work environment can help prevent burnout and reduce turnover, saving your business money on costly recruitments. A focus on employee well-being can also positively impact company culture, creating a workplace where employees are motivated and engaged.

By prioritising employee well-being and job satisfaction, your business can build a solid and productive team, delivering better customer service and reaping long-term benefits for everyone involved.

4. Providing multilingual agents with additional resources and support

Providing your customer support agents with extra resources and support can make all the difference. Not only does it improve their accuracy and confidence when communicating with customers, leading to better customer satisfaction, but it also helps to ease their workload and prevent burnout.

By ramping up their customer service skills and offering support to multilingual agents, you can create a more inclusive work environment, promoting diversity and positivity within the team.

5. Partner with a platform like Cocoroco

We’ve discussed how finding and retaining multilingual agents can be a real challenge, due to a shortage of qualified candidates, a lack of training and career advancement opportunities, and high job stress.

Partnering with a flexible hiring solution platform can help your business meet the growing demand for multilingual customer service and stay ahead of the competition.

That’s where a platform like Cocoroco comes in — it connects businesses with high-quality multilingual customer service agents from all over the world.

Our talented pool of candidates is well-diversified, with thousands of qualified bilingual and multilingual agents speaking various languages, including English, Portuguese, Dutch, and German.

With us, your business can enjoy many benefits, including access to our pool of skilled agents, reduced recruitment and training costs, and the ability to provide your customers with the best possible support experience.

Final thoughts

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With the rise of global trade and e-commerce, the demand for multilingual customer service agents has skyrocketed. Communicating with customers in their preferred language is vital for building strong relationships and providing exceptional customer support.

However, finding and keeping these talented individuals can be quite a challenge. The lack of education and training opportunities, a small pool of qualified candidates, high-stress levels leading to burnout, and limited career growth opportunities, all contribute to the shortage of multilingual customer service agents.

This shortage can significantly impact your business, affecting customer satisfaction and adding to overall business costs. As a result, businesses must find ways to adapt their business strategy to meet the needs of their diverse customer base.

To overcome these challenges, you can invest in language education and training, offer career advancement opportunities, prioritize employee well-being and job satisfaction, provide multilingual agents with additional resources and support, and partner with a global talent solution platform like Cocoroco.

The success of a business depends on its ability to provide multilingual customer service and meet the needs of a diverse customer base.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Cocoroco can help your business achieve this success, get in touch, or book an obligation-free demo today.


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