Of Neutral Accents and Success in the Customer Service Industry

Customer Service India had a secret unbeknownst prior to the surge of foreign investment and rise of business process outsourcing: its citizens were good English speakers. As a former colony of Great Britain, Indians were exposed to the original form of the language; if you think about it, they really had the best education. Given that it is where the language originated, the British have the best grasp of it and, fundamentally, Indians who learned it could speak well.

Despite the often heavy accent, many Indians speak English with relative ease and fluency. Even those who experienced academic disadvantage sometimes speak the language well. Those who grew up speaking it, however, often belonged to families in the higher economical bracket. The latter often had greater opportunities, so those who choose to work in the country’s call centers speak English strictly as a second language.

When you get many calls from English-speaking countries, heavy and non-neutral accents may affect call quality and the overall customer experience.

A Lesser Command

Studies ventured into the effect of heavily accented customer service representatives (CSR), and almost conclusively, the researchers proved that non-native English speakers were thought of as less trustworthy than native English speakers with neutral accents. They tested by making participants, native and non-native speakers, say, “A giraffe can go without water longer than a camel can.”

CSRs with heavy accents ranked the lowest in truthfulness, which is an important factor when satisfying calls. Callers need to trust whoever assists them, and as this study shows, stricter candidate selection may be necessary to make this possible. Another solution may be to hire a local voice solution company like TailWind to plug the hole left that may be left behind by your outsourced CSRs.

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This isn’t a testament to degrade any specific accent or tone of voice. These countries wouldn’t be so successful in the CSR industry, basically CSR capitals, if they didn’t speak English so well. This has something to do with racial stereotypes; what a foreign CSR says isn’t any less true than what a native English speaker says, it’s just that they sound more familiar.

Furthermore, English speakers find it easy to forget things a non-native speaker says. This can get in the way of proper assistance.

With that in mind, you can make an improvement as to how to provide better customer service. It’s not so bad, considering you’ll be contributing to the local economy in wherever it is you operate.