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Virtually Speaking

Communicating Across Cultures and Languages with Virtual Assistants

Posted by Michele Hegg on Sep 21, 2016 12:58:31 PM


Just ten years ago, I remember making my way down the cobblestone streets of Mexico searching for the nearest cibercafé to make an international call to the states or to Skype on a rented computer – the most innovative means of international communication at that time. Those were the days of delayed calls and frozen videos, never mind that whoever was within earshot could listen-in on your personal conversations. “Wouldn’t emailing be easier?”

Now, with the growth of technology, I can call my friends living in other countries for free with just the click of a button on my smartphone and have a clear conversation, whether it be via Skype, Whatsapp or even Facebook. Perhaps more importantly, these apps allow international relationships to grow, shrinking the thousands of miles between us. The world is getting smaller.

As globalization continues to bridge different countries and cultures, international calling is just one example of how technological advances have enabled us to connect. From personal relationships to business interactions, people scattered throughout the world have the means to communicate instantly. As a result, more languages are coming into contact, and with that comes a few hurdles.

We can all recall a time when we struggled to understand a call center representative whose first language wasn’t English, or when speaking to customer support based out of a region with a different accent caused some hiccups. Even within the United States, many medical facilities rely on phone interpreters to facilitate conversations between non-English-speaking patients and their providers.

Here at Next IT, our IVAs (Intelligent Virtual Assistants) have acquired multilingual skills, making their first appearances in Portuguese and Spanish, with the ability to expand into many more. Whether an enterprise company has grown internationally or a healthcare facility seeks to improve communication with patients from diverse backgrounds, our multilingual IVAs provide a valuable asset that allows users to find what they need by using their native language. With an understanding of linguistic and pragmatic nuances that exist in languages, our teams develop IVAs that comprehend slang, idioms and forms of natural language that may be unique to regional dialects. Our Spanish-speaking IVA is even capable of understanding expressions in Spanglish, whether they’re syntactic calques, code-switching or adaptations to English borrowings.

Each of our IVAs is ready to break down the walls between languages and cultures. By efficiently answering questions and resolving issues, they provide a positive customer experience – developing a good rapport with users no matter their language.

Topics: Next IT