How to communicate when language is a barrier.

¿Hablas español? You might not, but your customers do. With over 41 million native speakers and 12 million bilingual speakers, the United States is the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world—and we’re on track to become número uno by 2050

This poses both opportunities and challenges for growing businesses. On one hand, multilingualism is undeniably good for us as individuals and as a society. Compared to monolinguals, people who can speak more than one language are, well, smarter. They learn better, solve problems easier, understand the world more deeply, and exhibit more cognitive resilience. 

Organizations with multilingual workforces can tap into their collective brainpower to stand out and become industry leaders. As Microsoft points out, language diversity leads to innovation, ultimately fueling business growth.

On the other hand, there’s the issue of the language barrier. If you’re not already multilingual, learning a new language can be—how should I put this?—hard. Really hard. Children seem to be natural linguistic sponges, absorbing new words with little effort. Adults, not so much. If you’re over 18—or over 50—it can take months or years to become fluent in a different language.

Do you need to learn a new language to run a successful business?

Plus, let’s face it: most business owners are simply too busy as is. When you’re spending 40, 50, 70, 100 hours a week working, hustling, making connections, managing employees, wrangling technology, and navigating disruptions like—I don’t know—pandemics, the last thing you need is that Duolingo owl shaming you for not learning Spanish faster. 

Consider the fact that the average lawyer spends only 29% of each workday on billable time, using the rest of their hours to manage administrative tasks and business development essential to their practice’s survival. 

Good luck fitting vocabulary lessons into all that.

The struggle is real.

These aren’t just concerns for people, like attorneys, who rely on their words. The limitations of time and learning ability are obstacles for any business that serves clients or customers who speak different languages, but they can be particularly vexing in professions where language isn’t a prominent focus. 

When your job is to install HVAC systems, clean homes, repair cars, or engage in another hands-on activity, it doesn’t really matter what language you speak—until you’re doing something besides the work itself. I’m talking about booking appointments, explaining your services, collecting payments, and engaging in all the incidental but crucial forms of communication speakers of the same language take for granted. 

Customer satisfaction suffers as a result. Look at reviews of practically any home services business and you’ll find at least one person frustrated with the language barrier. 

Overcome the barrier with Ruby.

So, what’s a time-strapped monolingual to do in an increasingly bilingual world? 

How can you ensure you’re not leaving any customers or clients out—that you’re delivering the same quality of service to everyone you do business with, regardless of which language they speak?

How do you communicate respectfully, professionally, and authentically across the language barrier?

I’m glad you asked! You don’t need to hire new employees, try to translate conversations on the fly, or listen to language tapes while you sleep in the hope that you’ll learn subliminally. Ruby’s bilingual answering service can delight your callers in English and Spanish.

With Ruby, you can be sure that Spanish and English-speaking callers are receiving the same continuity of care, as our team of bilingual virtual receptionists can handle customer inquiries and communicate about your business on your behalf.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Your incoming calls go straight to Ruby, and we greet your customers in English, Spanish, or both.
  2. Ruby’s bilingual virtual receptionists ensure your clients feel at home and heard in their preferred language.
  3. We can connect callers directly to you, take a message, and more—all based on your directions.
  4. Your virtual receptionists will keep you up-to-date on your messages with an email, text, or Ruby app notification.

Our receptionists ensure your clients and customers feel comfortable, understood, and taken care of. They’ll trust you—and you can trust us to make it happen. It adds up to better, more inclusive customer service, along with more time in your day to focus on your business… or those language courses you’ve been putting off.

Learn more about Ruby’s bilingual answering service.
For more information about how bilingual professional answering services can help your business, check out our explainer.