Despite its extensive diversity and historical importance, the Greek language tends to receive less attention. However, in this blog, we aim to shed light on the language and explore the unique features of customer services in Greece. Although it is spoken by a relatively small population, Greek is well-supported for chatbot development. While the tourism and hospitality sector plays a leading role in driving the economy, other industries, such as retail, banking, and finance, also have great potential for development through the adoption of automated customer service solutions.
The Greek language is one of the oldest recorded languages in the world, with a history spanning over 3,500 years.
There are several countries where Greek is the official language, including Greece, Cyprus, and parts of Italy and Albania. Greek is also spoken by significant populations in other countries such as Turkey, the United States, Canada, and Australia. According to Ethnologue, a database of world languages, there were approximately 13.4 million speakers of Greek worldwide as of 2021.
As you may have noticed when studying science subjects, in addition to being an important historical and cultural language, Greek is also widely used in academia, especially in fields such as philosophy, history, and mathematics. Many scientific terms and concepts are named after Greek words, such as "psychology" (from the Greek "psyche," meaning "soul") and "geography" (from the Greek "geo," meaning "earth").
Greek uses a very different writing system from English since it is written in the Greek alphabet, which has 24 letters. Modern Greek has borrowed many words from other languages over the centuries, particularly from Turkish, Italian, and French. Meanwhile, Greek also has some historical influence on English. For example, many scientific and technical terms in English are derived from Greek, such as "biology" (βιολογία) and "philosophy" (φιλοσοφία).
Greek and English have very different grammatical structures. Greek has a more complex system of noun cases, with four cases (nominative, genitive, accusative, and vocative) compared to English's two (nominative and accusative). Greek’s system of verb conjugation is also more complex, with different forms for different tenses, moods, and voices.
According to the EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI), which measures the English proficiency of adults in non-native English-speaking countries, English proficiency in Greece has been improving over the years. It ranked 14 out of 111 countries in 2020, putting it in the ‘high proficiency’ category.
Greek people typically learn English in school as part of the compulsory foreign language curriculum. English is usually the first foreign language taught in Greek schools, with some students beginning to learn it as early as the first grade. English language education in Greece typically continues through high school, and students are expected to achieve a certain level of proficiency in order to pass exams and receive their high school diploma.
Moreover, Greece's booming tourism industry has made English an important language for many people working in the hospitality and service sectors. Therefore, many people working in these industries, particularly in tourist hotspots, have learned English through on-the-job training and interacting with English-speaking customers.
This means English proficiency levels in Greece tend to vary across different occupations, leading to a situation where some Greeks are only able to communicate effectively with international tourists in English.
In fact, there is also a wide variation of English proficiency across regions. English proficiency tends to be higher in urban areas and tourist hotspots, such as Athens and Thessaloniki, where there are more opportunities to use and practice English. In contrast, English proficiency may be lower in rural areas, where access to English language education and exposure to English-speaking environments may be more limited.
Hence, although overall English proficiency is high in Greece, depending on the industries and the regions that your business operates in, being able to communicate with customers in Greek is still crucial for your success.
In Greece, there is a strong preference for businesses that communicate proactively, especially when it comes to resolving customer issues and addressing concerns. Being able to quickly and effectively provide solutions to customer problems is critical in building trust and loyalty among Greek consumers.
This preference for proactive communication may be influenced by cultural values. Greek culture places a high value on hospitality and socializing, which translates to an expectation of warmth and openness in communication. As a result, businesses that demonstrate active engagement with their customers are likely to be more successful in building long-term relationships.
Another factor contributing to this trend may be the challenging economic climate in Greece, which has resulted in a high unemployment rate and a need for job security and stability. By being proactive in communication, businesses can improve customer confidence and trust, which can help strengthen the overall health of the business and its ability to retain employees.
It is important for businesses in Greece to prioritize proactive communication because acquiring new customers is 5 times more expensive than retaining existing ones. Effective communication can take many forms, such as regular email updates, social media outreach, or even fast and efficient complaint resolution. With the help of technologies like Algomo's chatbots, businesses can provide immediate responses to customer queries 24/7, making it easier and more cost-effective to maintain customer relationships.
Greek shoppers are more willing to do in-depth research across online and offline touch points. They use touch points much more often than their regional neighbours.
Physical stores are still popular among consumers. 82% of shoppers used offline touch points. Even though Greeks tend to carry out more online research than their regional neighbours, they still tend to make purchases offline — this is especially true for TV sets. Hence, offline interactions and customer services matter for business success in Greece.
However, having an online presence is also important. According to Google’s customer survey, in Greece, the average use of online touch points across computers, laptops and mobile phones is 91% compared with 85% of its European neighbours.
Although as of 2021, internet penetration in Greece is estimated to be around 65%, below the EU average of 75%, this represents an improvement from around 54% a few years ago. The Greek government has also made progress in digitalizing its services, with a number of initiatives aimed at providing online access to government services and improving the efficiency of government operations.
As a result, there is significant untapped potential for businesses in Greece to improve their online customer services and increase trust among consumers.
Greek is quite well-supported for chatbot development. Many of the popular chatbot-building platforms, including Dialogflow by Google, support the Greek language, allowing businesses to create chatbots and virtual assistants that can communicate effectively with Greek-speaking customers.
In addition to these platforms, there are also natural language processing (NLP) engines and machine learning frameworks that support the Greek language, making it possible to build more advanced chatbots that can understand and respond to complex input. For example, IBM Watson, Amazon Lex, and Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services all support Greek language processing, and there are open-source NLP libraries such as spaCy and NLTK that have Greek language models available.
The Greek chatbot market is still in its early stages, with limited data available specifically on its size. In general, being part of the broader AI landscape, the Greek chatbot market is expected to continue to grow.
According to BCG’s report, young start-ups in Greece are more likely to develop and integrate AI as part of their service or solution offering. However, Although Greek start-ups, innovators, and large corporations identified AI applications across the value chain, most organizations
have not realized its full potential: they have yet to follow a strategic approach and a structured methodology to be able to scale it and treat it as an inherent component of their organization.
In addition, through the support of the European Union, the Greek government has been actively promoting the adoption of digital technologies in various sectors of the economy. This will help to create a favourable environment for the growth of the chatbot industry in Greece.
The tourism and hospitality industry is one of the most obvious applications of chatbots in customer services in Greece. Although most tourists in Greece are international, the "Visit Greece Virtual Assistant" developed by the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), speaks both Greek and English language. This is to accommodate both domestic and international tourists, as well as foreign tourists in nearby Greek-speaking countries.
The Visit Greece Virtual Assistant be accessed through the GNTO website on desktop and mobile devices. It can help tourists find information on popular tourist destinations, accommodations, transportation, and local events. The chatbot is also able to provide information on cultural and historical sites, as well as tips on local cuisine and activities.
It is a great example of how chatbots are being used in the tourism industry in Greece to enhance the travel experience of visitors by providing them with quick and personalized assistance.
The "IKEA Greece Chatbot" is a notable example of a Greek-speaking chatbot in the retail sector. It can be found on the IKEA Greece website and is specifically designed to assist customers with their shopping experience at IKEA stores in Greece. The chatbot is accessible on both desktop and mobile devices and is available in both Greek and English
With the IKEA Greece Chatbot, customers can easily find information about the various products and services offered by IKEA, such as furniture, home decor, and kitchen appliances. Additionally, the chatbot can provide details on store locations, opening hours, and delivery options to help streamline the shopping process. This helps to make the shopping experience of customers much smoother and more convenient.
Helvia is a technology company based in Greece that aims to transform both customer experience as well as employee experience with the power of Language AI.
Helvia’s intelligent bots can integrate with any system, linking information from businesses’ existing platforms to ensure the chatbots provide customers with the most relevant responses.
Their chatbot can be embedded within any intranet/website, SharePoint website or in-app, making it accessible at any platform your business has the most exposure on. In addition to these multiple integrations, Helvia can also customer the bots to speak any language your business may want to include.
Serving quite a niche group of industries, its current customers range from the food supply industry to advertising companies, such as BBDO.
INFOLYSIS is a technology company based in Athens, Greece, that specializes in developing chatbots, AI-powered conversational interfaces, and other digital solutions for businesses.
The chatbots developed are not only accessible through messaging platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, Slack and Skype. It can also be incorporated into Viber, helping companies to manage commerce and order transactions more efficiently.
In addition to chatbot development, INFOLYSIS also offers a range of other digital solutions, including web and mobile app development, custom software development, and digital marketing services. The company's clients include businesses in various industries, such as retail, finance, hospitality, and healthcare.
The chatbot industry in Greece is still in its early phase. Although most Greeks are able to speak English, their proficiency level is typically restricted to communication with international tourists. It is therefore crucial to provide Greek-speaking customer services. Both online and offline presence is necessary for businesses to succeed. Companies operating in Greece must stay up-to-date with these trends and adopt cost-effective solutions, like chatbots provided by Algomo, to take advantage of the opportunities available for reaching more customers in the online space.