Understanding the Power of a Multilingual Workforce in Enhancing Customer Service and Boosting Overall Profitability

Published: February 20, 2024
A woman stands proudly. Image caption says: Understanding the Power of a Multilingual Workforce.

In today’s increasingly globalized business world, offering multilingual customer service has become essential to remain competitive. 

It’s no longer enough for companies to assume that all their buyers speak the same language. Instead, they must cater to multiple markets, allowing everyone to speak in their preferred vernacular when interacting with a brand representative.

As such, investing in a multilingual workforce has become a powerful tool for improving your overall customer experience, building better trade relationships, and increasing profitability. This article will discuss the indispensable advantages of multilingualism in business and how you can start building your ideal multi-language workforce.

What Is a Multilingual Workforce?

A multilingual workforce means building a thriving business where most employees speak multiple languages and regularly use a combination of languages to talk to each other and clients. 

For example, your employees may feel comfortable speaking their native language (let’s say, Spanish) around the office. Still, they can easily switch to English when facing a customer or speak French when required.

A genuinely multilingual workforce uses more than one language when performing their daily workload and uses their linguistic skills to strengthen internal and external relationships for your company’s benefit.

The Powerful Benefits of Being a Multilingual (and Why Your Business Should Invest in Multi-Language Solutions)

To better understand the advantages of a multilingual workforce, look at what the latest data and statistics have to say. Here are just a few of the reasons why multilingualism is an asset that should not be overlooked:

A mini infographic shows unique advantages of a multilingual workforce.

Better English Proficiency Is Linked With Innovation and Wealth

Before we discuss different vernaculars across the globe, let’s first look at English language learners. 

English is often considered the global business language and is among the most widely used vernaculars worldwide. However, did you know that the majority of English speakers can speak more than one language?

Out of over 1.5 billion English speakers, only 400 million speak it as their first language, meaning that most people (over 1 billion) use it as a secondary language.

Knowing and understanding English is a significant advantage for the average dual language learner, giving them a competitive edge in the global labor market. According to the EE English Language Proficiency Index, countries with high English proficiency tend to have higher incomes, increased innovation, and an overall better quality of life.

However, speaking English only is not enough. Recent studies in California have found that bilingual or multilingual people who are also proficient in English (58.8%) tend to perform better on standardized tests than native speakers (51.8%) who only know English.

The lesson businesses and employees can take away from these studies is that English proficiency is crucial for global competitiveness, but speaking English exclusively should not be the goal. Bilingual and multilingual workers can sometimes perform even better than English-only speakers.

Multilingual Countries Gain a Significant GDP Boost

In addition to being correlated with higher wealth and better performance, linguistic skills can influence an entire country’s gross domestic product (GDP). A Geneva University study found that countries with multi-language proficiency gained a 9% GDP advantage.

For example, Switzerland has four national languages, including German, French, Italian, and Romansh, with English as a secondary language. The researchers found that the nation owes about 10% of its GDP to its multilingual capabilities, earning a competitive advantage worth $38.15 billion.

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum, countries with poor language skills lose a significant share of their GDP. The United Kingdom, for instance, is pushing for a “language revival” program in schools because their economy is losing £50 billion (3.5% of its GDP) annually because of gaps in their linguistic education.

Multilingual Solutions Help Build Trade Relationships

Providing top-notch language support is particularly critical for businesses looking to build international trade relationships. No matter how good your products or services may be, speaking only one language can hinder your efforts to expand to new markets, partner with global companies, and appeal to customers from different backgrounds and cultures.

A recent study observed the trade relationships of small to medium companies in Germany, Denmark, France, and Sweden. The researchers found that businesses that invested in a multilingual workforce could export more goods overall, while those that neglected linguistic ability missed out on contracts.

Additionally, German companies that made a conscious effort to hire long-term bilingual and multilingual workers could build 10 additional export countries to their trade market.

Multilingualism Improves Earning Power for Workers

Knowing more than one language is not only an advantage for businesses but also for individual workers. Multilingual learners can boost their career advancement and earning potential by leveraging their linguistic capabilities in the workplace.

According to a University of Florida study, bilingual employees have an edge over those who only speak their home language. The researchers found that people who spoke both English and Spanish tended to earn $7,000 more than English-only speakers.

A different study from the University of Guelph in Canada echoes these findings, stating that bilingual men and women had overall higher earnings, making 3.6% and 6.6% more, respectively, than their counterparts who only spoke one language.

Multilingual Capabilities Solidify Economic Dominance

Finally, multilingualism should not be overlooked because of its power in solidifying a country’s economic dominance. To illustrate this point, let’s look at the Philippines, one of the top BPO destinations for multilingual support.

Many Western companies turn to this Southeast Asian nation for multilingual solutions because of their workforce’s high English proficiency, mastery over multiple local dialects, and the accessibility of quality foreign language training. 

The average multilingual call center in the Philippines can offer support in up to 30 languages, including the most prominent European and Asian languages, such as Spanish, Mandarin, German, and more.

Because of the Filipino people’s multilingual capabilities, the local BPO industry continues to thrive, contributing $29.1 billion to the economy – or about 7.5% of the country’s GDP.

Hoping To Invest in Multilingual Call Center Services? Here Are the Outsourcing Destinations You Should Choose

Now that you understand the power of a multilingual workforce, you’re probably ready to start building your own multi-language customer service team. Instead of taking on the challenge of finding and hiring qualified workers, why not work with an offshore or nearshore call center so you can start the ground running?

If you don’t know which outsourcing destinations to choose, check out this brief overview:

The Philippines: Your Choice for Offshore Multilingual Solutions

SuperStaff call center agents smile proudly at the office lobby.

There’s a reason why the Philippines has become renowned worldwide as a top-tier offshore call center destination. BPOs in this country can give you access to a massive workforce proficient in multiple languages and naturally attuned to Western customer support preferences.

Vast Pool of Gifted Multilingual Workers

With three centuries of Spanish occupation and 48 years of American colonization, Filipinos have become exposed to multiple foreign languages. In modern times, most local workers can speak and understand English fluently and are familiar with Spanish words and phrases.

Filipinos are also naturally multilingual in the context of local dialects. On top of learning English and Tagalog, many Filipinos can also speak regional languages such as Kapampangan, Cebuano, Bicolano, Hiligaynon, and more.

Deep Familiarity With Western Cultures

Thanks to the Philippines’ colonial history, Filipinos intimately understand Western cultures and customs. As such, local call center agents can quickly adapt their style of speaking and customer service approach to meet the needs of American and European clients.

Decades of Customer Service Excellence

Another reason why American companies outsource to the Philippines is because of the country’s decades of experience in providing call center services. The Southeast Asian nation has been the top BPO destination of choice for U.S. businesses for over 40 years, consistently providing quality service at affordable rates.

Colombia: The Premier Nearshore Call Center Destination

An Argentinian woman executive poses at SuperStaff's office lobby.

When it comes to nearshoring, you can’t go wrong with Colombia. The Latin American nation has quickly become a favorable destination for outsourcing investment because of its growing bilingual workforce, ease of collaboration with Western economies, and geographical proximity.

Large Spanish and English-Speaking Population

Over 559 million people worldwide speak Spanish, with the United States alone boasting the second-largest Spanish-speaking population globally. By partnering with a nearshore call center in Colombia, you can cater to the needs of this emerging market, allowing them to speak comfortably while nurturing higher customer satisfaction.

Closely Aligned Time Zones

The geographic proximity between the United States and Colombia also means that the two nations have the same or similar time zones. As such, companies and their Colombia BPO partners can easily schedule virtual meetings or site visits, enabling more effective communication and seamless collaboration.

Fewer Culture and Language Barriers

With the close historical and economic ties between the U.S. and Colombia, most Colombian call centers will have no trouble understanding and adapting to American customer preferences and expectations. Colombian agents are also known for being friendly and hospitable, ideally suited for customer service roles.

Build Your Ideal Multilingual Workforce With SuperStaff

Are you ready to leverage the power of a multilingual workforce to elevate your business? Get in touch with SuperStaff to get started on your call center outsourcing journey.

With our strategic locations in the Philippines and Colombia, you can build a multilingual support team that blends offshore and nearshore capabilities. Trust us to help you develop and execute a comprehensive customer service strategy that will meet the needs of your client base.

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