Arise's Learning
Center

Back to Results

01.25.17 | blog
Author: Taylor Jones

Arise Customer Service Frustration Series: Language Barriers

It goes without saying that consumers want to communicate with brands in their language.  In fact, according to Rosetta Stone survey data, over 72% of customers are more likely to buy a product with information in their language and over half (56%) of customers value information in their own language over the price of a product. As we entered 2017, Arise wanted to know how frustrated consumers get when brands don’t provide a customer support experience free from language barriers as part of our series to understand customer service frustrations.

To gauge consumer frustration with language barriers, Arise commissioned a Google Consumer Survey of over 1,500 U.S. consumers asking them the following question: “Rate your level of frustration if you encounter a language barrier when interacting with a company’s customer service representative.” Respondents could report their frustration on 1 to 7 Likert Scale to the where 1 is “Not Frustrated at All” and 7 is “Extremely Frustrated.” The question was selected to be encompassing of all customer service contact channels, so phone, chat, email, etc. are all considered.

Overall Results*

It’s not surprising, but over 89% of respondents some level of frustration when they encounter a language barrier when interacting with a company’s customer service representative. On top of that, the majority of respondents were on the higher end of the frustration spectrum with over 59% selecting 5, 6, or 7 – more than one quarter of respondents expressed extreme frustration (7), which was the most selected choice for all respondents.  The mean score for all respondents was 4.79.

Demographic Results

Results By Gender

While both male and female respondents report higher-than-average frustration with customer service language barriers on average, women reported being more frustrated overall with an average score of 4.88 vs. 4.68 for men.  In addition to the higher average score, women also expressed “extreme frustration” far more often with 30.4% of respondents selecting that option compared to just 22.5% of men. As may have been expected from the overall results, extreme frustration carried as the mode frustration for both genders.

Gender

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Average Score

Male

10.4%

6.3%

5.9%

20.7%

17.8%

16.4%

22.5%

4.68

Female

10.7%

6.3%

6.9%

14.4%

13.2%

18.0%

30.4%

4.88

 

Results By Age Group

Apart from the 18-24 age group, the results followed a predictable pattern with the reported average frustration with a customer service language barrier increasing along with age group. Individuals over 65 were the most frustrated with language barriers, posting an average score of 5.07, while responses for the 25-34 age group averaged at 4.51. The fact that older consumers find language barriers more frustrating is significant for brands to keep in mind as baby boomers age and the 65 and older population continues to grow as a proportion of the total US population.

 

Age Group

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Average Score

18-24

8.0%

5.3%

8.8%

24.0%

20.7%

9.5%

23.7%

4.67

25-34

12.5%

8.1%

8.4%

20.8%

12.2%

13.7%

24.4%

4.51

35-44

11.9%

6.4%

5.8%

16.5%

13.8%

20.7%

24.9%

4.76

45-54

10.3%

7.8%

6.0%

15.2%

14.5%

21.1%

25.1%

4.80

55-64

10.4%

4.3%

6.2%

13.7%

15.5%

17.3%

32.5%

5.01

65+

9.4%

4.9%

3.0%

14.9%

17.7%

20.4%

29.8%

5.07

 

Age Group

Below Average

Average

Above Average

18-24

22.1%

19.9%

53.9%

25-34

29.0%

15.6%

50.3%

35-44

24.1%

12.0%

59.4%

45-54

24.1%

14.3%

60.7%

55-64

20.9%

19.2%

65.3%

65+

17.3%

17.5%

67.9%

 

Conclusion

The results of this study resoundingly show that customers are very dissatisfied if they encounter a language barrier in their customer service experience. Surprisingly though, this is still the experience with many brands’ customer service. There are still hundreds of thousands of agents in offshore customer service operations, many who struggle to understand the customer or who perhaps have limited proficiency to a set script, so anything outside that causes issues.  Perhaps the language barrier is a result of a brand overlooking their non-English speaking customer base source – according to a joint ICMI and Voiance survey, 86% of contact center operations reported having non-English speaking customers, but less than 65% had formal support options in language other than English. Of those that do support (an)other language(s), no more than half provided multilingual customer service for any other channel than inbound phone.

Whatever the case, there’s no doubt your customer management solution needs to provide support in the right language for every customer. The Rosetta Stone survey of executives cited earlier noted that 89% of respondents felt that customer satisfaction and loyalty would improve from supporting customers in their native language, which in turn could drive significant profit increases. The Harvard Business Review reports that a 5% improvement in retention can increase profits by 25%, and another showed a 1% reduction in customer service issues could generate an incremental $40 million in profit for a medium-sized company over five years.

If your customer service operation suffers from language barriers impacting the customer experience, trust the customer management solutions from Arise’s Platform-as-a-Service. Arise’s 100% virtual platform allows you access to a vast network of quality, onshore resources including multilingual service providers to help you eliminate any offshore language barrier and provide the international or native language support your customers demand.

 

*Results Using Google Consumer Surveys’ Post-Stratification Methodology. The Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE) score of this study was 2.8%.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Taylor Jones serves as the Senior Manager of Marketing & Business Development at Arise where he is responsible for managing digital marketing strategy and business development efforts. He has a keen interest in what companies need to create strong customer experiences and successful customer contact operations. Jones holds an MBA in Leadership from Queens University of Charlotte and a B.S. in Applied Mathematics & Spanish from the University of South Carolina Honors College.

 

Attention Call Center Companies Using the Arise Platform!

 

Arise is removing the portal login button from Arise.com.

 

For your convenience logging in, please bookmark www.AriseWorkFromHome.com or https://portal.arise.com/

The Portal Login button will be permanently removed in:

00 Days

00 Hours

00 Minutes

00 Seconds

Stay here and you will be redirected to the portal in 25. If you are not redirected click https://portal.arise.com/

Call Center