OnStar Advisors Don’t Get Lost in Translation

OnStar advisors discuss how the same language is used differently across cultures.

If you need a Spanish translator, all you need to do is find a Spanish speaker right? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

With more than 400 million Spanish speakers, from more than 19 countries around the globe, sometimes speaking the same language doesn’t always mean you’re going to get the same meaning from one word to the next.

Understanding nuances, even within one language, is key to gaining and retaining customers. Across all automakers, new car sales climbed 15 percent with Hispanic motorists between 2013 and 2014, which compares to only a six percent increase for the rest of the U.S. population. That percentage is expected to rise even higher over the next couple of decades. With the U.S. Census Bureau projections of the Latino population growing to nearly 30 million by 2050, it’s important to understand cultural nuances, particularly when it comes to providing the right language services.

Today, there’s an estimated 55 million people in the United States who speak Spanish. Though Spanish is a beautiful language, many words used in traffic scenarios have multiple meanings depending on the country.

OnStar has more than 30 Spanish-speaking advisors who take an average of 1,500 – 2,000 customer calls in Spanish per day. The advisors will tell you, they come across some pretty interesting words to translate, which can make for an entertaining workday for them. But the good thing is there’s enough diversity within the team to figure out all requests. Since the team is relatively small, drivers are more likely to connect to the same representative, thus creating a more personal experience for the customer.