Bilingual call centers exist to bridge the cultural and lingual gap between businesses and their clientele. This is done through customer service representatives who speak the same language that their customers speak. Their success, however, doesn’t rely entirely on the agents’ fluency in the business language; cultural competence should also be ingrained in everyone.
A multicultural workplace can become culturally competent if the agents are familiar with the culture of their co-workers, not just of with the behaviors and preferences of the consumers.
In a diverse workplace setting where people have varying cultures, nationalities, beliefs, and languages, everyone should be able to interact with others harmoniously. Your agents must be aware, respectful, and tolerant of the views of their team members.
Culture education should be injected in your communication approach, work scheduling, and even in team activities specifically for these reasons:
• Each culture has its own unique way to communicate. For instance, it’s common in some Asian nations to hesitate giving bad news, while others tend to exaggerate it. If you have a diverse population in your workplace, you need to be aware of communication differences, or else you may have troubles dealing with problems on projects or your staff. Always keep communication channels open, and let your team know that communication practices should stay professional at work.
• People are raised in different backgrounds—you may value individualism where you grew up, but cooperation may be the core childhood value of the people you work with. These differences, however, should not cause conflicts between teams, so try to make your activities between members cross-cultural. Make sure that everyone’s okay with any group task or game to avoid offending genders, opinions, or religions.
• Time is viewed and spent variously in every culture. You and your agents may also have opposing definitions of work-life balance, overtime, and deadlines, so it’s important that everyone follows a unified scheduling scheme.
• Your agents may follow a certain calendar that is different from the one your international clients observe, so there should be an agreed calendar and holiday observance rules to be followed. This should make sure that meetings and deadlines are met while cultural practices associated with holidays are respected.
It could be challenging to cultural competency, but through education and respect for differences, you can avoid conflicts and reach collective goals.