Florida’s Medicaid 2-Hour Wait Time for Spanish Speakers and Other Scenarios Showing Significance of Multilingual Customer Service Agents

Published: October 13, 2023
A laptop showing different languages signifying the importance of multilingual customer support and how it can benefit Florida's Medicaid system.

Floridian healthcare insurance has grown more volatile over the years, threatening the livelihood of its vulnerable locals, from soaring premiums to delayed services. With the COVID-19 protection plans ending, thousands of people may lose their coverage.

Sadly, Florida’s multilingual communities are most affected by this looming crisis.

This blog will shed light on what prompted this issue while exploring the best practices for healthcare insurance providers to mitigate this.

Florida’s Medicaid Call Center Crisis

An infographic showing the state of Florida's Medicaid Call Center crisis and how the state can take advantage of multilingual customer service.

According to the UnidosUS poll, Spanish speakers in Florida are experiencing difficulties in reaching Medicaid’s call center, revealing that:

  • Spanish-language callers had to wait an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes before a rep answered them, almost four times longer than the average English-language caller.
  • Nearly one-third (30%) of all Spanish-speaking calls were dropped before reaching an agent.

Many Florida residents were disenrolled due to “procedural reasons.” As such, Medicaid’s customer service reps play a significant role in helping them navigate renewal processes, paperwork completion, and contact information updates — especially to Latin American households, as they’re more likely to lose their membership.

Given how many Hispanic adults in the U.S. (51%) rely on Medicaid services to access healthcare and other life-saving medical services, resolving the situation must become a top priority for hospitals and other medical institutions. Thankfully, one way to fix this urgent challenge is by outsourcing multilingual customer support teams.

How Multilingual Customer Support Teams Can Address Florida’s Medicaid Wait-Time Crisis 

Immediately connect Spanish-speaking clients with call center agents who speak their language.

Hispanics in Florida experienced a dramatic population growth of over 1.4 million since 2010.

A recent U.S. Census estimates that 27.1% of Floridians (over 6 million people) identify as Hispanics or Latinos, and 21.8% speak Spanish at home as their mother tongue. 

With these numbers rising, Medicaid needs to dismantle the language barrier with its Spanish-speaking recipients and outsource multilingual customer service roles to the Philippines or Colombia

Being able to speak in their native language can allow Latino families to access their much-needed insurance with ease and talk freely about their problems and concerns. All the while, the organization can retain critical information that could get lost in translation and, in turn, help healthcare institutions provide better patient care.

From a marketing perspective, companies that offer products and services in clients’ native tongue can increase customer retention and reduce acquisition costs. Research shows that 65% of consumers prefer content in their native language, and 40% won’t purchase if they can’t read the website.

In Medicaid’s case, Spanish-speaking clients are more likely to hang up on agents who don’t speak their language, jeopardizing their membership even more. By working with a Spanish-speaking support team, clients can receive clear information about what they need to remain in the program.

Significantly reduce wait times for non-English-speaking customers.

The news reports on the Florida Medicaid situation highlighted how non-English-speaking individuals had to wait longer for a customer support agent to handle their case than English-speaking clients. Due to this excessive waiting time, many Latinos struggled to get through the helplines, locking them away from the federal insurance program.

Seeing this delay as being “discriminatory against families and children of color,” UnidosUS (the country’s most prominent Hispanic civil rights organization), along with other state and federal agencies, has issued a complaint before the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for violating the nation’s Civil Rights Act.

Most clients want a seamless customer experience regardless of language and refuse to settle for anything less. Failure to fulfill this customer demand may not only defect your consumers to your competitors but also result in legal ramifications.

Here are more compelling stats attesting to the significance of effective and immediate client calls:

  • 59% of consumers prefer expressing their sentiments through live calls.
  • 83% expect to speak with an agent immediately when contacting a brand.
  • 44% are displeased when kept on the line for 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Almost all (90%) agree that an “instantaneous response” is crucial when resolving a customer-related problem.

How can companies satisfy the need to provide quick services to their customers? One solution can be outsourcing multilingual customer service.

Adopting multilingualism in your call center operations remarkably reduces wait times and quickly resolves your non-English-speaking patients’ pain points. Additionally, hiring virtual workers will successfully decongest callers who have been kept on hold for a long time while ensuring respectful and equitable treatment.

Other Scenarios Showing the Importance of Multilingual Customer Support for Different Industries

The Florida Medicaid situation is no isolated incident. Today, many U.S.-based businesses cannot provide quality customer service and conflict resolution because they lack multilingual support

Here are some effects if businesses don’t speak their customers’ language:

  • 29% of companies reported losing customers because they failed to deliver multilingual support.
  • 75% of clients will only spend $500 or less for brands that don’t offer native language support.
  • 68% tend to switch to a competitor that provides support in their preferred language.

Let’s look at a few of these examples across different industries:

An infographic illustrating the industries that benefit most from multilingual customer services.

Banking and Financial Service Institutions

For the 44 million Spanish speakers in the U.S., navigating financial services can be a confusing experience due to language and cultural barriers. One case study illustrates this widespread challenge:

José, a 55-year-old Spanish-speaking construction worker, said his bank didn’t have multilingual call center agents to accommodate his needs. Sure enough, he met one service rep who speaks Spanish — but even then, the staff could only communicate a little.

The staff later brought him to a translation service for further assistance. However, at times, automated systems are known to have several blind spots. 

The experience made it difficult for him to complete his banking transactions. Ideally, customers like Jose will be connected with customer service professionals who can have meaningful conversations with them, speak their language, and deliver the treatment they deserve.  

Thankfully, recruiting outsourced multilingual call center agents is a sure-shot way for banks to deepen personalization with clients who speak a language other than English (LOTE) and ramp up customer resolution.

Travel and Hospitality

Health and safety have become essential in these times of uncertainty. One survey highlights that most (85%) consumers make travel decisions depending on communications received from hotels and airlines regarding safety protocols and cleanliness.

The travel and hospitality industry must leverage every touch point and effectively communicate current safety policies to earn back the faith and trust of domestic and international travelers.

One example is Booking.com, a massive U.S.-based traveling agency. The company realized the value of excellent customer service and hired a support team to respond to calls in multiple languages. Soon after, they observed that some clients who dialed their agents preferred speaking in their vernacular despite being multilingual.

Now, the firm has expanded to over 110 nationalities and operates in more than 43 languages, providing continuous support to travelers scattered across the globe.

Outsourced multilingual travel agents can work round-the-clock to offer flawless, engaging, and complete customer service to callers of all nationalities and languages.

E-Commerce, Logistics and Transportation

In 2020, Amazon launched its Swedish retail site, quickly becoming a laughing stock due to its translation glitches. Across its catalog, the online shopping platform accidentally included bizarre and occasionally lewd words under its product descriptions.

The website fell victim to substandard translation tools and algorithms as it grappled with deciphering certain English words.

These eyebrow-raising issues can permanently damage a brand’s reputation, causing buyers to purchase from other sites instead. With reduced demands comes the piled-up stocks that just sit in the warehouse, which costs the brand more space.

From the scenario above, we can safely establish that multilingualism in e-commerce is crucial. 

Beyond making it easier for customers to purchase from your website, having a multilingual customer service team is also vital for transportation and logistics. Multilingual agents in the logistics department enable LOTE-speaking clients to communicate concerns about delivery status and refund services easily. 

Diversify Your CX with SuperStaff’s Multilingual Call Center Services

Research shows that speaking your customers’ native language can boost your competitive edge and guarantee client retention. So, it’s time for you to embrace multiculturalism and elevate your customer service. 

From healthcare to logistics, SuperStaff offers quality and world-class multilingual support, including Spanish support, to various fields as they develop their local and international presence. With our highly skilled agents working around the clock, we can help you earn customers’ trust and build long-lasting relationships.

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