Bilingual Customer Support in Canada: What You Need to Know
Canada is more than just cold weather and hockey. With the 16th highest GDP (Gross Domestic Product) on the planet, the northern neighbor of the United States also has one of the highest quality of life scores in the world. It’s a country with a large urban population and many opportunities. But what should you know about customer support in Canada and how to meet the needs of customers in this country? Here are a few things…
- Canada is a bilingual country – Unlike many countries, Canada has two official languages – French and English. While only 10 million of the 35 million people in Canada can speak French, primarily people in the province of Québec, it is still important to be aware of this before you launch bilingual customer support operations in the country. Evaluate if you need to support French-speaking Canadians or focus primarily on the English-speaking population in the country. In addition, make sure that all information in your customer support software is in the same language (usually English).
- Canada is vast and difficult to navigate – Spanning six time zones can make offering customer support throughout Canada difficult. It can be even more problematic for companies with physical inventory as many of the cities are spread out along the U.S. border. Couple this distance with the harsh winters and getting inventory around can be difficult, forcing Canadian operations to have multiple inventory locations on different sides of the country. Customer support software can be crucial to make sure agents aren’t promising customers inventory that will take a long time to be delivered to them.
- Canadians are accepting of other cultures – Canada is a popular country for immigration, especially from Asian countries. Approximately one in five Canadians are now foreign-born with large groups of people coming to the country from China, the Philippines, and India. This can be a great resource for creating a unique customer support team with multiple backgrounds and traits for best assisting the diverse Canadian population.
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- Canada’s population is aging – As a result of the growing foreign-born population and world-class medical care, the entire population of Canada is getting older. For the first time in history, Canada now has more people over the age over 65 than under the age of 15. What does this mean for customer support? It indicates lower mobile phone usage and a higher demand for traditional support methods such as phone and email. Live chat is still gaining ground as a support method in Canada, but don’t rush to hire agents that specialize in this new technology right out of the gate.
In short, Canada customer support offers a different set of challenges than other regions of the world. Multi-lingual support featuring the French language adds a new layer into assisting customers and the vastness of the country can also be a challenge. But, with an older and diverse population, the people of Canada are generally tolerant and work well with support to resolve their issues. Canadians may be used to the cold weather but they are generally warm and loyal people who appreciate honesty and directness in their support conversations. Many companies have expanded their support initiatives into Canada with great success and it’s an easy international stepping stone for operations based in the United States.