Well, that’s often the case for people who don’t speak English as their first language. Eventually, they learn to share information through pictures or hand gestures, but wouldn’t it be great to be greeted by a staff member who speaks another language, your language? What a refreshing possibility, these customer service stars could be easily identified by their name badges.
Language barriers are a common challenge in business settings, for both customers and employees. Most people don’t realize how important basic communication is to providing a superior customer service experience and a core foundation towards creating lasting relationships.
Here are some ways to help you navigate around these communication problems.
- Be Prepared – Cross-cultural communication takes more time; certainly not everyone can speak more than five languages. As a business, develop a list of customer service representatives that can speak different languages.
- Train – Training should include language barrier procedures as well as common phrases that are used in your industry when handling clients.
- The Tools – Include tools such as quick references, signage, and even name badges that can identify the different languages spoken.
- Speak Clearly – Focus on enunciation and slow down your speech. Even if you’re pressed for time, don’t rush. It may take a bit more time, but can actually save you time in the long run without the need to reiterate your message.
- Ask For Clarification – Miscommunication is often the result of not listening clearly to the speaker, or what you’ve heard is not exactly what was intended. Be sure to ask for clarification instead of making assumptions.
- Double, Triple… Check – Double check that what you’ve heard and understood is what’s actually been said, have others fully understood you? If you practice reflective listening, this will help make your business transactions and staff communication more effective. For instance, ask open-ended questions like: “So what I hear you saying is…” or “What’s your understanding of this process?” instead of “is that clear?” It not only helps alleviate pressures from your employees, but it can help you understand what and how the message is being received.
- Be Clear and Concise – If you have something to say, stay on topic and make sure the deliverables are clear and concise. You want to effectively communicate what needs to be done and not cause confusion for the listener.
Now that you know how to overcome some of the basic issues with language barriers, you’re ready to get your staff all set up to effectively communicate and serve your clients.
Let us know if you have any other tips for effective communication relating to language barriers with your customers. Share your comments below!
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