5 steps to delivering multi-lingual customer support in the mortgage industry

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Customer experience is the new battleground for mortgage companies. Empowered by digital technologies, rich information sources and varied choices, today’s consumers demand speed, convenience and personalization.  Sixty-three percent of customers are willing to switch mortgage servicers in their quest for better service. Against this backdrop, multi-language support assumes critical importance for mortgage companies looking to deliver superior experiences for their non-English speaking customers.

Currently, Hispanics account for 18% of the country’s population and are expected to comprise nearly 30% of the population by 2060.  While mortgage companies understand the importance of Spanish language support in driving customer satisfaction and loyalty, they face significant challenges in providing it due to:

  • Lack of budgets for investments in relevant technology and infrastructure
  • Inability to hire associates skilled in Spanish and manage Quality Assurance (QA) reviews, scheduling and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Difficulty in converting associate support resources such as training materials and customer resources such as emails and chat templates into Spanish

Providing a scripted response or finding someone who can speak Spanish does not help associates effectively understand and address customer needs.  The results are poor customer engagement, First Call Resolution (FCR) rates and customer satisfaction (CSAT). The inability to provide multi-lingual support impacts not only customers but also associates, resulting in frustration, lack of confidence and poor productivity.

Enabling multi-lingual support: 5 key steps

As demographics and markets shift, adopting the following structured approach can help mortgage companies better service their customers by meeting their specific expectations.

Understand the requirement for multi-lingual customer support for your customer segments

To develop a Spanish language support plan, evaluate customer inquiries and expectations to understand what percentage of your customer base is more comfortable conversing in Spanish. Where are they located? For instance, more than 25% of the state population is Hispanic in New Mexico, Texas, California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Florida.

Assess your current customer service model

Evaluate your current customer service capability vis-à-vis your Spanish speaking customers’ preferences to identify the gaps in your current model and assess how you will need to ramp up support. Do your customers prefer Spanish across all channels of communication or only voice? What is the volume of interactions you can expect on each channel? What is the complexity and depth of interactions? How do you expect your non-English speaking customer base to grow over the next few years?

Leverage technology

Deploying technology-enabled automation and workflow is key to enhancing efficiencies and lowering costs. Utilize a special code language indicator on customer accounts to quickly identify multi-lingual preference. Tools such as multi-lingual interaction portals, IVRs and routing, and multi-lingual associate interface and content can help maximize your ROI.

Build a multi-language team

Develop a robust talent acquisition strategy to ramp up quickly and ensure that your hiring specifications facilitate competency-based hiring. Create a robust hiring process with multiple filters to identify right-fit candidates and consider partnering with local educational institutions to ensure scalable access to best talent. Finally, offer on-going cultural training and associate development as customers often assume that an associate who can speak Spanish also understands the nuances of their culture.

Monitor customer and associate experience

Tracking both customer and associate satisfaction is critical to continually fine tuning and improving your multi-language support process. Create policies, procedures and compliance requirements around customer support, and monitor critical metrics such as KPIs, SLAs, CSAT, and quality – just as you would for your core team. At the same time, utilize associate surveys, one-on-one with managers and customer surveys, to assess how comfortable your associates are with the technology and processes in place.

A clear case exists for lenders of all sizes to implement Spanish language support – nearly three-quarters of respondents in a survey indicated that CSAT scores were better when support was provided in the customer’s native language. To be successful, lenders must approach multi-lingual support holistically – as part of their overall strategy to engage customers – and not as a stand-alone solution. While mortgage companies can try to implement a multi-language support platform internally, partnering with an experienced provider can help fast track the process while curbing costs.

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