MAGIC® Global Training: Overcoming the Language Barrier - Part 1 of 2

By Jansje Stramwasser


We are pleased to introduce Jansje Stramwasser as a guest author in this issue. Jansje was a senior manager at Convergys Learning Solutions and is based in Paris, France. She is also a certified Master MAGIC facilitator.

This is the first of a two-part article on their global MAGIC initiative.

Convergys Employee Care is a Global Outsource Service Center, which has chosen MAGIC training for all of its Service Centers around the globe. Our business world is divided into four different regions:

  • North America (NA)
  • Latin America (LATAM)
  • Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA)
  • Asia Pacific (APAC)
We train everyone in the “MAGIC Culture” from advisors to the operations manager. I am the Master Facilitator for MAGIC globally and the EMEA Lead for Learning Solutions (Training).

In our type of business, languages are our company's strength. It is through language that we communicate with our customers, and the best way to do that is in their native tongue.

So, how do you do that when the vendor is American and the global company has global clients? We worked a great deal with Communico and came up with some solutions that are working very well—and I would like to share them with you.

Facilitation and Translation of Key MAGIC Elements

In EMEA we have three Service Centers situated in the UK, Hungary and Spain.  These three Service Centers serve many different countries. Therefore, we translated key pages in the MAGIC of Customer Relations manual into fourteen different languages, including: 

  • MAGIC &Tragic Words and Phrases
  • The Detailed Look for The 33 Points for Inbound & Outbound Calls (with its examples)
  • The 33 Points
In LATAM and APAC, since participants do not always speak English, we translated all materials. For LATAM we translated the facilitator guide and participant workbook into Portuguese for our Brazilian advisors, while for APAC we translated into simple Chinese (the spoken language is called Mandarin) for China.

The goal is to allow advisors and participants to obtain these key materials in their native language.

Skill Practices for Groups Speaking Multiple Languages

In EMEA, having participants who come from different countries and speak different languages in the same class is both fun and challenging. The training takes place in English for all participants. However, role plays create a particular challenge because we want participants to be able to practice in their native tongue. How can one monitor a role play in a language one does not speak?

Personally, I speak five languages, which is not close to the number of languages represented in our classes. So, we needed to develop a solution that would help everyone learn the content and allow them to explore the concepts in their native tongue.

We decided that the participants need to first understand the flow of the call and how to calibrate together. Since these groups speak English, every participant participates in two role plays, where the conversation takes place in English. We all listen and calibrate together using The 33 Points. With ten participants in the class, that means we listen to 20 calls.

This exercise ensures a thorough understanding of The 33 Points during the monitoring and calibration process.

Afterwards, we group the participants by language and have them do role plays in their native tongue. We then calibrate the calls together even if we do not understand (exactly) the language! We listen carefully to voice/tone, which is the most important part of any telephone conversation.

I once had a class with twelve participants who spoke six different languages. I needed to call other people into the class from operations and management to be able to do the role plays. We ended up with a class of eight teams speaking six different languages. Time now became of great importance as we needed to listen to those role plays using the five languages outside of English we had not yet heard. The team cooperated in being back in the class on time, listening carefully to the calls despite the fact that many did not speak the language and giving feedback that was relevant to tone and voice.

It was fantastic to see how the group lived up to the challenge and was eager to show their understanding of The 33 Points and of the different cultures.

In LATAM and APAC, the programs are conducted by bi-lingual facilitators who are certified to deliver both MAGIC and MAGIC Email.

Adjusting for Cultural Differences

Doing role plays in different languages requires an understanding of different cultures. Greetings can vary by country or culture. The advisors need to be aware of this fact and adjust accordingly. In Argentina and Chile, for example, one uses the less formal version of the name. If a customer's name is Bernardo Gonzalez, the advisor would call the customer “Don Bernardo” rather than Señor.

In Germany, titles are very important and need to be mentioned in the greeting. For example, one might say “Gutentag Herr Doktor Schmidt” or “Gutentag Herr Professor Karlmeyer.” Anyone with a PHD will be called “Herr/Frau Doktor.”

In Poland people prefer not to be called by their surname as it might have a derogative meaning. It is used at a very minimum so as not to offend the customer.  Instead, advisors will respond professionally by asking their ID, verifying whatever is needed and continue the conversation. The first name might be used instead, so one might say, “Mrs. Ewa.”  This is the preference in Chile and Argentina as well.

Growth in Languages and Learning for the Future

Of course we'll translate MAGIC into more languages as we develop more Service Centers in different countries. Working with different languages and countries helps our facilitators deepen their understanding of cultures and diversity—and shows how MAGIC applies all around the world.


Click here to read Part 2.

Before and After
Before and After
Just one "tragic" contact can influence your customers' perception of your company (and their buying decisions). Listen to the difference MAGIC® can make.