Nearshore Americas

How Proving Language Ability Can Improve Your Contact Center’s Performance

Outsourcing contact center work from a Nearshore location has given many providers an edge, but it comes with a major challenge: for most agents, English is a second language.

A contact center employing bilingual agents requires fast, effective language screening. This is especially true if a business process outsourcer (BPO) is moving its offerings up the value chain while still committing to providing the best customer service to its clients. 

The problem is that screening can be time-consuming, and even inaccurate. Because an agent’s language ability is critical to a BPO provider’s success, having a proven and reliable solution that gets the job done in an effective, timely manner makes a world of difference.  

As Brigham Tomco, CEO of Emmersion, says: “For bilingual staffing, accurate language screening plays a crucial role in recruiting, retention, and customer experience. Fortunately, there are now tools that allow for accurate and scalable testing of agents’ language-speaking ability.”

How automated language screening help BPO providers:

  1. Reduced Hire Rate. By using an automated tool for screening language ability at the beginning of the hiring process, no more time is wasted on candidates that don’t meet minimum requirements. Faster hiring decisions mean you can hire top talent before they walk out the door.
  2. Focus on Critical Soft Skills. The efficiency of an automated assessment can provide recruiters with additional time to focus on soft skills—like personality, EQ, and cultural fit.
  3. Increased Customer Retention and Improved CSAT. Qualified and confident agents are less inclined to leave, with higher first-call resolution and improved net promoter scores.  They are also more likely to boost customer satisfaction. Specifically, Emmersion has found that its assessment product has improved CSAT by 20%.  
  4. Avoid Human Bias and Error. Assessment tools are rooted in data that eliminate the risk of inherent error, bias—and even fraud. Recruiters can also experience fatigue, which makes them more prone to error, whereas an automated system can accurately assess as many candidates as a provider desires—simultaneously.
  5. Opportunity for Reinvestment. With the money you save from not paying recruiters to screen, a BPO provider can reinvest in critical business areas, from ICT infrastructure to improved amenities for agents.

The Correct Approach to BPO 2.0

BPO 2.0 refers to the adoption new software technologies that allow contact centers to deliver faster, higher-value services to their clients. Language assessments can play a key role here, removing the human element from tests for speaking, reading, and grammar.

As BPO 2.0 providers eye new, higher-margin markets, they are looking for software tools that give them a competitive advantage. Pursuing these growth opportunities is exciting, but it comes with its fair share of risk. How can a provider fill seats quickly, and with the best possible talent?  Employee self-assessments and credentials aren’t always reliable. Automated assessment software removes that issue, allowing for management to focus on its clients’ business needs – a critical issue for contact centers committed to resolving big problems.

Contact centers need to show how they’re proving their candidates’ language ability, and that all of their candidates are qualified

Automated systems also help contact centers improve their visibility. Often, providers are bidding for BPO 2.0 contracts in a competitive environment, with very little room for error. They need to show how they’re proving their candidates’ language ability, and that all of their candidates are qualified. This is exactly what language assessments do. 

“Language screening seems like a small and simple step in the recruiting and training process, but, in my contact center and BPO experience, the impact of doing it well is surprisingly high and overlooked,” says Tomco. “The cost of not screening language ability well far outweighs the cost of the technology solutions that make it so easy to do.”

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Building Success in the Value Chain

Automated language assessments can help improve a contact center’s performance while also having a positive impact on a client’s success. BPO 2.0 providers can reduce their hire rate and avoid human bias and error while also increasing customer retention and improving their customers’ experience. Managers can be confident in the resources available to do the job right, knowing that the hiring process is backed up with actionable, objective data. Time and cost savings, as well as increased accuracy, free up human and financial resources for reinvestment in the business. With better visibility comes improved forecasting—adding confidence to bids and ensuring the success of all three stakeholders: the agent, the provider, and the customer.

Tim Wilson

Tim has been a contributing analyst to Nearshore Americas since 2012. He is a former Research Analyst with IDC in Toronto and has over 20 years’ experience as a technology and business journalist, including extensive reporting from Latin America. A graduate of McGill University in Montreal, he has received numerous accolades for his writing, including a CBC Literary and a National Magazine award. He divides his time between Canada and Mexico. When not chasing down stories, he is busy writing the Detective Sánchez series of crime novels.

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