Did you know that only 10% of the South African population speaks English as their first language, and yet virtually all customer service agents and front-line staff have to use English extensively in their jobs. English is the language of preference in the customer service and sales environments. If your vital customer facing staff can’t speak English clearly and intelligibly then their careers are going to suffer. Research shows that not being able to understand the agent is the number one problem for customers calling in to their service providers.
Our primary product is our online accent modification course, which aims to improve the English accent of any frontline person whose second (or third) language is English. The course is also designed to improve the trainee’s auditory processing of English, i.e. teaching them to interpret what they are hearing in English accurately.
The effect of the South African English Accent on customer service
If your mother tongue is isiZulu, isiSotho or isiXhosa your first language will have a powerful effect on your English accent. It’s as if you are walking into a minefield of vowels which you simply don’t have in your vocal arsenal. A common feature of the South African languages is strong throat resonance. Voice is produced in the middle to back part of the mouth. This results in a deep, full, warm voice. But because of this, when English is spoken there is blurring of the forward, round English vowel sounds, such as er, ar, and or.