Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Multilingual Bots Mean Better Contact Center Success

April 19, 2017

In the United States, speaking more than one language is something of an anomaly. In a country where virtually everyone speaks English, and its immediate neighbor to the north does likewise—its neighbor to the south is best left unmentioned here—the demand for speaking French or even Spanish, let alone any other language, is fairly minimal. Yet for the contact center, this can be a different matter, and that's led some to suggest that having multilingual chatbots on hand could be a way to solve one of the contact center's major problems.

Contact centers may have to field calls from all over the planet, and even as more call centers return to the United States, more of the calls such centers field come from places where English isn't spoken. This is prompting many contact centers to take a closer look at the idea of chatbots that handle multiple languages.

It's not easy to assemble such systems for the contact center; natural language processing—the system that allows a robot or similar machine to distinguish and interpret spoken language—is still something of a developing field, and advances have been comparatively slow in coming.  Some have suggested a chatbot which is user-selected at the beginning, a refinement of “press one for English,” which then activates the appropriate language of bot.

Tools like these are increasingly valuable in the market, and to get a look at all the latest on this front, check out the Communications 20/20 event taking place July 18-20 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Attendees will be able to see exhibits of products in this space, get the very latest on communications tools from chatbots to AI and beyond, and engage in networking opportunities.

It's similar to the situation that was seen so often in contact centers in the past; when these were primarily located in India and the Philippines and the like, customers were often put off by attempting to get answers out of a contact center where English was clearly not the first language spoken. This led to a lot of unhappy customers jumping ship, and contact centers returning to the United States. Now, the problem is almost seen in reverse; countries that don't speak English are calling these contact centers, and not getting answers because the voice on the other end doesn't speak Mandarin, Tagalog or Swahili.

While automation isn't always an answer, using a multilingual chatbot at the front of the contact center process can be a major help in routing customers to the right department. Almost a global interactive voice response (IVR) system, it can go a long way toward getting everyone the best customer experience, no matter what language is spoken.

Edited by Alicia Young