Foreign phone etiquette that a bilingual call center must learn

Every bilingual call center follows the universal customer support rule on courtesy. All customer service representatives (CSRs) are trained to always display this when transacting with people on the phone. While this common phone etiquette should be observed regardless of the kind of customers a contact center serves, there are unique customs that you should follow if you cater to a specific demographic.

As etiquette and business communication practices vary according to language and culture, your agents should know the right things to say and do to avoid unintentionally offending customers.


•     Know the right time to call in each territory


Most customers in the West, particularly Americans, find it rude if they receive telemarketing calls after 9:00 PM. It’s even punishable by the FCC to call people who have put their numbers under the Do Not Call Registry. To avoid getting fined, always make sure that the recipient of your outgoing calls have granted you permission to dial their numbers.

Unlike their Western counterparts, most Asian customers are more lax when it comes to phone calls. They’d hold up a meeting to entertain callers or welcome a call even after dinnertime, as long as what you’re going to say is of utmost importance or your offer is something they cannot resist.


•     Know when to be prompt and when to take your time


Customers seem to look for promptness no matter where they are in the world. Europeans, in particular, want conversations and voice messages to be straightforward. The Italians even answer the phone with pronto, which literally translates to “promptly,” because brevity to them is as valuable as time. Brazilians also want agents to pick up the phone immediately because they find ignoring calls rude. Chinese and Thai customers have this similar belief, so they’ll keep on dialing your number until they hear someone at the other end of the line.

However, there are other nationalities that prefer speaking to be soft and clear. The French, for instance, would appreciate slow but well-delivered lines instead of hasty talking.


•     Know when small talk is needed


While many people want work-related calls to be straight to the point, others such as Egyptians prefer pleasantries to be exchanged before getting down to business. Asians tend to be chatty and friendly as well, compared to their counterparts in the West. But even if conversations with them start light, they still demand complete attention when speaking with agents.


Every bilingual call center must be acquainted with the phone etiquettes and business communication practices of their customers. But regardless of the nationalities you serve or their language and culture, your customer care team must deliver efficient, courteous, and top-caliber service.



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