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Ferry and harbour operator CalMac is now offering its customers a telephonic customer care service in Gaelic after a pilot project over the summer showed that there is a demand for it.
The move which enhances the company’s support of Gaelic has also seen CalMac create a new customer care centre in Stornoway which has brought six new jobs to the town.
Previously assistance from a Gaelic speaker was only available to Gaelic-speaking customers telephoning or visiting port offices in Gaelic-speaking areas, but now anyone who would like to make an enquiry in Gaelic can be transferred to a native speaker to deal with their booking.
The Stornoway team will also be steadily transforming CalMac’s social media channels into a bi-lingual offering as well.
There are around 60,000 Gaelic speakers in Scotland, and the majority of people living in the Western Isles are able to speak Gaelic.
CalMac’s Managing Director Robbie Drummond said: ‘We are committed to looking at ways of spreading jobs more evenly across our area of operations and I’m delighted to confirm that the summer pilot we ran in Stornoway will now be a permanent fixture in the town.
‘Given the prevalence of the Gaelic language in the Western Isles it was a natural step to make this the centre of our new bi-lingual customer service offering.
‘This is something we have been keen to introduce for some time and this new centre now gives us the capacity to support this.’
CalMac has long history of support for the Gaelic language, including as the principal commercial supporter of the Royal National Mod.
Shona MacLennan, Chief Executive, Bord na Gaidhlig said: ‘We always welcome new developments which contribute to the National Gaelic Language Plan’s aim that more people use Gaelic more often in more situations. CalMac’s introduction of this service will support that aim, and is particularly appropriate in their customer care centre which is in Stornoway. By locating those jobs in a Gaelic speaking community this will bring important economic benefits to the Western Isles.’
CalMac’s customer service team handles more than 300,000 calls and 44,000 emails every year as well as 30,000 social media messages.