Using Remote Interpreting to Provide Global Customer Service

By Liz Elting

Imagine heading to the pharmacy to purchase medicine and not being able to ask an important question about drug interaction because the pharmacist doesn’t speak your language. Or let’s say you are trying to find critical drug information by calling your health insurance company’s patient support line, and the person who answers your call can’t understand you. How would you feel? Would you feel safe taking the new medication?

Now consider a florist’s call center that advertises a dozen roses for $19.95 the week before Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. This center knows that by using broadcast advertising and toll-free numbers, they can achieve substantial sales volumes. Every call that comes in from a potential customer who speaks another language is likely a lost sale not only now, but also for special occasions in the years to come.

These are just two examples of how remote interpreting has become a critical component of successful global customer service.

Remote Interpreting Improves Customer Service and Benefits Businesses: If a company uses a remote interpreting service, the customer service call center can connect the call with a remote interpreter in the caller’s native language at the same moment a call comes in. From there, the call center contact can assist the customer and communicate information about any issues.

More companies are expanding across international borders, and an important aspect of any customer-facing business is establishing a stellar customer service platform. Factoring different languages and dialects into a company’s global service options complicates this, as customers require assistance in their native language over multiple platforms. Consumers around the world are shifting from requiring customer service from just telephones to other platforms such as video, text messaging, email, and Web-based audio.

Businesses need the ability to interact with multilingual customers on the same level as native language customers. To do so, they often turn to remote interpreting services that allow companies to provide customer service in any language and over any platform. This creates a successful interaction and increases the likelihood of future purchases by earning brand loyalty from customers needed to grow business.

Beyond the benefit of improved customer service, businesses that contract their remote interpreting service have lower costs. The company doesn’t need to pay employee salaries or benefits as they would if they had a multilingual staff with support for each language. Of course, lowering overhead costs while maintaining service standards is important to all businesses.

Interpretation Applications Are Growing Fast: The need for remote interpreting services extends across several industries in addition to retail and e-commerce, including pharmaceutical, healthcare, legal, and government. In North America, demand for remote interpreting is evenly spread and growing across these industries, though for varying uses. A pharmaceutical company conducting trials around the world needs to be accessible to patients twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week in case of drug interactions or complications. Using remote interpreters, company representatives and trial participants can be connected in moments no matter what the language needs are. For hospitals, remote interpreting allows receptionists, nurses, and doctors to correctly diagnose and treat patients with limited English. Remote interpreting companies provide the hospital with a guide on how to determine what language a patient speaks and then connects them with the appropriate interpreter through a call center.

In addition, companies often conduct campaigns for specific markets around the world. These companies can effectively target non-English-speaking markets by dedicating a bilingual interpreter to integrate with their CRM systems for the length of the campaign. These agents follow a scripted call dialogue, and their ability to make outbound calls and accept inbound calls improves the campaign outreach. The interpreters reach out to prospects, follow the script, and input data directly into the CRM system. Contracting with a remote interpreting provider in this way can present a cost savings opportunity for a business. Otherwise, the business would need to hire an adequate number of agents for each target language. Depending on the campaign, this could add a substantial number of employees – all who would require benefits, salary, and office space.

Conclusion: The applications of remote interpreting services are numerous, and any customer-facing company can expand their market potential by having the ability to communicate with every customer. Also, because consumers’ communication device preferences are changing, call centers need to be equipped to handle inquiries from different platforms, such as video and chat. Therefore, remote interpreters are beginning to support devices beyond phones. In addition, as language requirements become more complicated and the size of the market segment in the US that does not speak fluent English grows, the need for remote interpreting services will continue to expand.

Liz Elting is cofounder and co-CEO of TransPerfect, a provider of language and business services. Elting oversees the day-to-day operations of the company, headquartered in New York City.

[From Connection Magazine June 2012]

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