Multilingual Contact Centres Facing Challenges Recruiting Agents

Multilingual contact centres facing challenges recruiting language capabilities – Research released today by the CCMA (Call Centre Management Association) highlights the difficulty faced by multilingual contact centres in recruiting advisors who can multiskill in local language.

Most contact centres require their employees to operate across voice and email, and increasingly other digital channels as well such as live text chat and WhatsApp. This requires frontline colleagues to be sufficiently capable in both spoken and written language. It can be difficult to find people with the required language skills to work for a multilingual contact centre based outside of their native country.

This finding is taken from the latest CCMA research ‘CX and operational fluency for multilingual contact centres’, produced by the UK’s leading association representing the UK call and contact centre industry. Supported by multilingual messaging provider ChatLingual, the research uncovers the success factors and challenges in setting up and running an effective multilingual contact centre operation.

Stephen Yap, Research Director at the CCMA, explains,

“Most organisations who serve customers in multiple countries have settled on a central hub model with a multilingual workforce,”

“This model is more popular than maintaining separate local in-country teams due to the consistency and oversight that centralisation offers. However, recruiting people who can both speak and write local languages at a native level is proving difficult in the current environment, particularly for certain Northern European languages such as German, Dutch and Nordic languages.”

ChatLingual CEO, Justin Custer, remarks,

“In the past two years, we’ve seen a major increase in customer demand for native-language support and a shrinking supply of workers available to meet this growing need,”

“Fortunately, rapid advancements in translation technology have empowered forward-thinking enterprises to improve their hiring practices–focusing on customer service skills rather than limiting hiring options with language requirements. The turn towards multilingual messaging solutions is transforming the contact centre space for the better. CCMA’s research has brought exciting perspectives into how multilingual contact centres can simplify their operations while providing a higher level of personalised customer experience.”

The research reveals 10 key considerations for multilingual CX and contact centre operations:

1.  The central hub model tends to be more popular for multilingual contact centres due to consistency, insight, cost and scale.

2. Operating in multiple languages adds complexity and management overhead.

3. Consider BPO partners who run multilingual operations centrally.

4. Target language communities and social networks to recruit expats, students and other natives based outside of their home country.

5. It can be difficult to recruit people who are not only native speakers but also have the required level of writing ability to be effective when multiskilled.

6. Hiring for native language skills requires longer lead time due to the additional need to validate language ability.

7. Northern European natives such as Dutch, German and Nordics are challenging to hire overseas.

8. Multilingual chatbots can be used to handle conversations and escalate to a live conversation when necessary.

9. The use of translation technology can create resource flexibility, lower costs and increase uptime, but like any automation needs care in selection and implementation.

10. Cultural nuances in different countries can impact your operations and staffing strategies.
Research methodology



The CCMA conducted in-depth interviews with contact centre leaders representing a diverse mix of vertical markets and contact centre types. All interviewees owned Europe-wide responsibility with a need to operate in multiple languages.

The research is a free download from the CCMA website by Clicking Here

For nearly 30 years, the CCMA (Call Centre Management Association), as the longest established contact centre industry body, has been dedicated to supporting contact centre leaders across the UK.

For additional information on the CCMA view their Company Profile

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