An article from the website Hispanic Bank Marketing cites that roughly 56 percent of Latinos are currently “unbanked,” meaning that they do not use financial institutions to keep their money safe and grow their savings. Why such a high percentage? The usual suspects of distrust, lack of accessibility, language barriers, and lack of understanding about how financial institutions can help come into play.
So what can banks and credit card companies do to reach out to this growing demographic in such a way that builds trust and shows Latinos how using financial institutions can be beneficial?
1. Having Spanish translations of flyers, publicity, forms, and contracts is always an excellent start.
2. Since online banking is becoming easier every day, a bank should have an easily navigable website available in Spanish.
3. At least one fully bilingual staff person should be available to answer questions, process transactions, and open accounts.
- 4. Banks and lenders may want to consider providing financial literacy training in community settings (such as at churches or community centers) with the aim of educating potential customers rather than selling products.
- 5. Once a bank representative finds a group to provide onsite financial literacy training to, she can offer add-on services such as one free credit counseling session at the bank.
Many Latino immigrants arrive in the U.S. with alternate ways of saving money. An example of this is the Mexican tanda which allows a group of people to pool their savings over time so that each receives a large lump sum, then used to make a larger purchase or down payment. And though remissions to family in one’s home country are decreasing in this economy, many Latinos continue sending potential savings back home.
Most likely the latter situation will not change, and is indeed an important part of the Latino immigrant experience. But by working with Latinos who are uneasy about putting their savings in the bank or nervous about cutting into their remissions, financial institutions can educate Latinos about alternate ways of savings and creating a long term safety net for their families both here and abroad.
Many business owners and service providers are sold on the importance of providing Spanish language translations of their documents. Ensuring that Spanish speakers understand your written message will enable you to tap into a new demographic if you own a business or reach out to people who need your services if you are a nonprofit or for-profit service provider.
Now that you’ve gotten Spanish speakers in the door by connecting with them in the language they understand best, make sure that you keep them by providing superlative customer service in person and over the phone. If Spanish speakers are drawn in by marketing materials in Spanish, they expect that the company will have a Spanish-speaking staff person to help them. If your company doesn’t have trained front-line staff to speak with customers in Spanish, the second best solution is to have interpretation services on call.
Not having bilingual staff or fast access to an interpreter may cause you to lose potential customers. To provide seamless customer service to Spanish-speakers, keep the following in mind:
- Spanish-speaking front line staff should be just as well-trained as your English speaking staff. Conversely, grabbing any employee to interpret just because he speaks Spanish looks unprofessional and will ultimately frustrate the customer.
- Ask for evidence of Spanish language proficiency if the potential employee was not born in a Latin American country. Two semesters of college Spanish doesn’t make one bilingual. Neither does being a native Portuguese speaker, although many Portuguese speakers learn to speak Spanish well.
- If serving a large number of Spanish speakers, make sure that you have sufficient bilingual staff. Bilingual staff shouldn’t serve a disproportionally large number of customers just because of their language skills.
- Don’t expect your Spanish-speaking staff to take on translation duties. Translation, as does customer service, takes a special skill set.
- If it’s not possible to have enough bilingual staff to fill your needs, make sure that you have a qualified interpretation service on call.
Having your materials translated into Spanish is an important first step. The above tips can help you to solidify first sales and create a connection with a whole new demographic of customers that will give them a great impression of your business.
As we mentioned in an earlier Transpanish Blog post, several groups pushed for Latino permanent residents to apply for citizenship in time for this year’s election. In fact, one in five new voters is Hispanic. Both Obama and McCain spent millions reaching out to Hispanic voters, especially in the swing states. These campaigns, along with non-partisan groups which encouraged Latinos to participate in civic life, made the votes of Hispanic citizens critical to the presidential race.
So what does this mean for Obama’s success? One well-known blogger says that Latinos voted against the Republicans and not for Obama. Tejeda’s blog offers some fascinating commentary about Latinos and politics, and is worth a read. In an Oppenheimer Report released before the election, the point is made that Obama’s almost flawless Spanish pronunciation and use of the familiar tu, may be disingenuous and make Latinos think that he’s more on their side than he actually is.
In Colorado and Florida, both key states, Latinos voted more than ever before. In Colorado, the number of Latinos who voted more than doubled from the 2004 election. A Colorado Independent article cites Pew Hispanic Center data showing that Latinos in Colorado made up 17 percent of total voters, up nine points from the 2004 election.
In Florida, Obama was the first Democrat to win the vote of the majority of Latino voters. While nationwide, Obama won by a larger margin, no other democrat has ever taken Florida since they begin doing exit polls in the 1980s. Older Cubans typically vote Republic, but Florida is experiencing a demographic and generational shift, as non-Cuban Hispanics and younger people of Cuban descent lean towards the blue. The Miami-Herald reports on what this may mean for Florida’s political landscape.
The Pew Hispanic Center, as always, provides detailed demographic info about Latinos in the U.S. and their report on the exit polls is no exception.
Of course, Obama hasn’t yet articulated a plan for immigration reform and Latinos themselves certainly don’t have a uniform stance on immigration. But whatever opinion Latinos have of immigration in the U.S., the NALEO Educational Fund is an incredible resource for Latinos who want to participate more deeply in civic life.
In these tough economic times, many business owners are shaving their budget of unnecessary expenses. This week, Transpanish’s blog post will talk about the effects of cutting your translation budget.
If your business provides a product or service, cutting your translation budget might actually harm your bottom line in the long run. This is especially true if you are located in an area with a large number of Latinos. The Pew Hispanic Center recently released a report about the explosive growth of Latinos in counties where there formerly weren’t many Spanish-speakers. By checking out the Center’s maps, you can see which areas of the country are expected to see further growth.
Making a commitment to providing quality translations of your marketing materials may foster connections in the Latino community and bolster sales. If you offer Spanish translations of your documents, you will reach this rapidly growing demographic. As overall spending decreases, doing outreach to the Spanish-speaking population will spread your sales into new territory.
Many business owners may look to cut costs for Spanish translations by looking in-house, especially if they have bilingual staff. Is this a good idea? Probably not, unless your staff also has a background in translation. Working with a reputable translation agency will ensure that your Spanish translations are accurate and compelling. This ultimately brings in more business than a sloppy translation done by an already busy staff person.
But contracting your Spanish translations out doesn’t have to be a pricy affair. A good Spanish translation agency will have translators who can produce quality translations quickly and carefully. And the longer you work with the same agency, the more familiar that agency becomes with your business and its documents, ultimately reducing overall cost.
Another excellent way to cut costs while maintaining high-quality translations is to ask your translation agency if they have any special offers or if they give a discount for repeat business.
Keeping your translation budget intact and working with a translation agency that prides itself on accurate and economical document translations might give your business the boost it needs. If you operate in an area with a growing Latino population or have a web presence, documents translated into Spanish can be the business boon you need to survive the flagging economy.