Would you be surprised to learn that Latinos in the Unites States hold more than $1 trillion in annual buying power? It’s true, according to research from the Selig Center for Economic Growth. Their data shows that the size of the Hispanic market in the U.S. is larger than the economies of all but 13 countries around the world. If your company isn’t tapping into this community and catering to their unique needs with bilingual customer service representatives, you could be losing out on sizable profits.
English as a second language
Miami-area companies know that Florida is an extremely diverse state with a sizable Latino population, but every region of the country is becoming more and more diverse. Nearly 35.8 million people report speaking Spanish in their homes, and 75 percent of those people call Spanish their first language. Many of these individuals speak fluent English, but many speak only conversational English, others speak none at all.
Spanish isn’t the only language spoken by people for whom English is not their native tongue. According to US Census data, the 9 most common first languages in the US other than English or Spanish are:
Having options for customers who are not fluent in English is essential in 2016. Failing to present them with that option tells non-native speakers that you do not care about their business. What are the odds of winning over a new customer or growing a relationship with an existing customer if they cannot communicate with your customer service department? They will simply take their business to another company that values their ability to communicate with people of diverse backgrounds.
Even if you think you only have a few non-native English speaking customers on your rolls, bilingual customer service representatives are a must in today’s culture.
The hidden benefits of bilingual customer service reps
There are some hidden benefits of hiring bilingual employees that you may not be aware of. They can communicate with customers in their native tongue, to be sure, but research has also shown that people who speak more than one language are more efficient on the job, likely due to the mental acuity required to learn and balance more than one language. This means that bilingual reps work faster and more efficiently than the average customer service agent and can drive overall results, even if they only field a few non-English calls a week.
Make no mistake, customers who do not speak fluent English will not waste their buying power on companies that do not value their needs – or their money. Companies that do offer bilingual reps will reap the benefit of strong recommendations. Immigrant communities are very close-knit, and word will spread quickly that your firm cares about cultural and linguistic diversity.
If you are looking to develop a bilingual customer service program, or if you already have a program in place but need to find talented customer service reps who speak more than one language, the recruiters at CERS in the Miami area are ready to help. Contact us today to learn more.