Pick Interpreting Services that Are Quick, Reliable, and Supportive

Female interpreter wearing headset looking to her left and smiling.
Source: Mart Production from Pexels

Interpreting services need to deliver value to the businesses, like yours, that use them. That’s because one out of every five people in the U.S. speaks a language other than English at home, and on-demand interpreters can help you inform, connect with, and retain this large segment of the population. 

But, if you’re new to the market of interpretation, how do you know what to look for? Are all vendors all the same?

When choosing over-the-phone interpreting (OPI) and/or video remote interpreting (VRI) services, keep an eye out for interpreting companies that are quick, reliable, and supportive. Below, we’ll tell you why. 

Fast connection to an interpreter

No one likes listening to hold music (no one!), especially unhappy customers or patients who need swift service.

That’s why speed of connection to an interpreter should be a priority when picking an on-demand interpreting service. And look out for two types of connection metrics: average speed of answer (ASA) and connection time to an interpreter. 

The ASA measures how long it takes for a caller to reach a customer service representative, while the connection time to an interpreter measures how long it takes for an interpreter to be placed into your call. Not every language service provider uses live agents, but if they do, it’s important to know the difference between the two.

On top of that, ask how often they monitor interpreter availability. You want to make sure that when you call for a Russian interpreter at 2:15 a.m., one will be available. 

Related: Why We Love Our Freelance Interpreters and Think You Will Too

Reliable interpreting services

When you want a hot shower, you want a hot shower, and you want it to stay hot the entire time you’re taking your shower. There is nothing worse than the water starting to chill in the middle of a shampoo.

The same goes for interpreting services. When you need an on-demand interpreter, you need one, and you need to be able to rely on your interpreting services partner to connect you immediately. 

A reliable interpreting company delivers a consistent experience day-to-day so you know what to expect every time you use it. They answer the phone when you have a question, offer the language resources they claim to offer, and, in the event there is a disruption in your service, they let you know. 

In determining the reliability of an interpreting company, look for the following: 

1. A business continuity plan

A business continuity plan is an outline of how a business — in this case, an interpreting company — will continue services should an unplanned disruption occur. Business continuity plans are designed to ensure that services will continue to operate no matter the risk (i.e., weather, natural disaster, fire, flood, technology failure, etc.).

For interpreter services, a business continuity plan should include redundancy for mission-critical processes (call centers, telecommunications infrastructure, data centers, and interpreter resources), security and data recovery solutions, contact escalation lists, back-up power, and frequent testing and monitoring of systems, to name a few.

2. A complaint resolution process

A reliable interpreting company won’t shy away from acknowledging issues. They will happen, and it’s important to know what their resolution process is. If anything, a reliable interpreting company will want to know if quality or performance is suffering because they’ll want to address it ASAP. 

If they don’t have one, or if they claim they never have any issues, mosey on past and keep looking.

Part of Certified Languages International's testimonial page on their website
The testimonial page on CLI’s website. Testimonials and other reviews, recommendations, or stories from clients are helpful when assessing interpreting services options.

3. Testimonials and/or references

If an interpreting company is touting their speed, reliability, and support, don’t just take their word for it. Ask their customers! 

Testimonials, case studies, and references continue to be one of the most trusted ways to vet vendors. Look for testimonials and case studies on their website, and ask for references. They should keep those on hand and give them to you without question.

Experience providing interpreting services 

Experience isn’t imperative, but it can be indicative of stability, commitment, and flexibility. 

Related: A Snapshot of the Top Telephone and Video Interpretation Companies in the U.S.

Level of support

The good news is that remote interpreting services are generally pretty easy to use and deploy. In a nutshell, you call a number, choose your language, and — voilà — you’re connected with an interpreter.

The tricky part is getting your employees to use the service. While hundreds of languages are spoken in the U.S., English remains the dominant form of communication. Lots of people, in fact, don’t even know that the language industry even exists! Therefore, choose a remote interpreting agency that will provide you with the level of support you need.

Ask what instructional or usage materials they offer, what kind of training they provide, and what assistance is available if you or your employees need it.

At CLI, our clients put their trust in us to maintain timely, consistent service, and we’re devoted to doing whatever we can to offer just that. 

If you’re in need of professional interpreters, contact us today. We’d love to learn more about how we can partner to help you better communicate with your limited English proficient customers

Originally published 3/19/2018

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