Spanish-Speaking Customer Reps Wait, but Latinos Don’t Call

March 11, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Brand Metrics | CPG & FMCG | Hispanic | Retail & E-Commerce | Telecom

Many major US companies are ready and able to assist Spanish-speaking consumers who phone their call centers with product questions, but only a small fraction of America’s 35 million Latinos actually reach out and call for more information, according to a survey from Entrevista, a division of The Center for Client Retention.

These findings suggest that some of America’s largest and most respected companies are investing heavily in marketing their products to Latinos, but are not effectively spreading the word that they want to hear from them and get their feedback, according to Richard Shapiro, president of Entrevista.

Entrevista’s two-part study initially involved bilingual calling to 1,000 Latino households to determine which companies Latinos admire and how they would like to be treated by the businesses they patronize. After that research was completed, Entrevista used mystery-shopper callers posing as Latino consumers to make multiple calls to the call centers of the 75 top advertisers to Latinos, as listed in Advertising Age’s Annual Guide to Hispanic Marketing and Media.

Key findings from the research:

  • 86% of mystery-shopper callers reached either a Spanish-speaking representative or an interpreter.


  • More than 85% of callers who reached a Spanish-speaking representative or an interpreter said the representative was able to address the response directly.
  • Almost 90% of the callers felt the call was personalized and did not sound scripted.
  • More than 80% of the callers felt the representative took his or her time and did not rush them off the phone.


Home Depot, P&G Go Extra Mile
The study also found that some companies take time to go what Entrevista deems the “extra mile.” When Home Depot was contacted to find out which of its stores in a particular geographic area had a Spanish-speaking manager, the 800-call-center representative not only provided a specific store name, but also called the location while the caller was on the phone to find out what hours the manager was working that week.

Similarly, the research found that Procter & Gamble is also a leader among consumer product companies that consistently provide easy access to Spanish-speaking agents who are both knowledgeable and have excellent customer service skills.

Still, the percentage of Latino consumer calls is quite small, Entrevista said.

“We were frankly surprised to find that companies are equipped to address the concerns of their Latino customers but the calls are not materializing in anticipated numbers,” Shapiro said, recommending, among other things,? that that companies engage Latino consumers by adding a toll-free number to their ads.

About the research: Prior to initiating over 500 mystery shopper calls to call centers, Entrevista created a “grading system” to evaluate the companies. The system was based on its own philosophy of good consumer service, and what it learned from speaking with Latino consumers during its initial research. For example, if a company’s 800 number offered a Spanish-speaking option, it automatically received a significant number of points. If a Spanish-speaking representative came on the line, it got additional points. If an interpreter came on to translate between the caller and the operator, it received a slightly lower rating. Points were also awarded for patience on the part of the representative, addressing the reason for the call, sounding interested, showing concern and answering the question clearly. Demonstrating respect also played an integral part in calculating the final scores.

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