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CRM language tools speak to native-tongue issues

Swedish car maker Volvo counts itself among the early adopters of CRM language tools that can help them reach customers and employees around the world in their native tongue.

As companies go global, reaching customers and employees in their native language becomes a challenge something akin to speaking in tongues -- unless, of course, they have a CRM language tool to serve as a translator.

"In the Volvo world, English is the language we use," said Scott Druian, regional marketing manager for the Western region, Volvo Cars North America. This often creates a language barrier when transmitting or receiving information from employees and customers, he said.

Volvo, a Swedish car company with offices on every continent, found it needed to communicate, not only with customers, but with employees, in their native tongues. Communicating to customers often was difficult for follow-up calls and other customer contact, Druian said.

"Research indicates that, in a couple of years, English will become the minority (language) in the Internet world," said Sergey Aityan, president, in charge of development, of Huntington Beach, Calif.-based Paramon Technologies, which provides multilingual CRM software.

The dot-com revolution brought companies online, and most of those Web pages were in English, said Howard Hohnadel, president, in charge of delivery, at Paramon. This led to non-English speakers seeking support from call centers that were not equipped to handle foreign languages. Often, an interpreter would need to be hired, which was an expensive, manual way to solve the language problem, he said.

Volvo test driving language software

Volvo Cars is piloting a global project to eliminate the language barrier, using Paramon's ParaCRM software. The company chose ParaCRM because it allowed employees to type in one language, while other employees could view the text in their own language, Druian said.

The car manufacturer also hopes for cost savings, once the multilingual software is rolled out across the country. In one meeting, a proposal surfaced, noting that three call centers in the United States could handle the entire world with eight-hour workdays, if the software was installed. By using live chat, the transfer between call centers would be seamless, operators could give clear responses -- and Volvo wouldn't need to hire multilingual employees, according to Druian.

Nashville, Tenn.-based ClientLogic, a call center outsourcer with offices in the United States and Europe, also needed software that would enable communication between employees, regardless of language.

When ClientLogic began its search, it wanted a program that would provide the same interface for system administrators, regardless of language. Yet when it examined different vendor offerings, the company found that most offered localized content for different languages, but the system administration was still in English, said Harvey Garrett, director of solution planning at ClientLogic.

"The barrier is usually making sure that we're using the same application for German speakers as we're using for French, Scandinavian and English speakers," he said.

Meanwhile, ClientLogic was able to find software that provided multiple languages for its customer and agent interfaces through Norcross, Ga.-based Eshare Communications Inc. To bridge the gaps in system administration, ClientLogic is localizing a lot of its software for content. The software does do a good job of translating for agents and customers, but the spell check does need improvement, Garrett said.


Ask our expert, Nick Siragher, a question on CRM in Europe.

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