4 Myths About Your Phone Interpretation Service

Nov 2, 2016

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When researching a new phone interpretation service to complement your multilingual support program, you might have difficulty distinguishing service providers from one another. Many make similar—and convincing—claims about their short connection times, experienced interpreters, contact center-based service, and straightforward costs for using the service.

But how do you know which claims will mean better phone interpretation service for you?

Asking follow-up questions about the topics below may help you learn more about your phone interpretation service and make a better-informed decision.

1. What does time to an interpreter really measure?

Neither your staff nor callers like waiting for interpreters, so many phone interpretation services claim they’ll answer your calls quickly—sometimes in only three or four seconds.

In reality, three or four seconds may only be the amount of time it takes for the interpretation service’s automated system to “answer” your call. But quickly picking up your call isn’t the same as placing an interpreter on the line and beginning the interpretation session. If the interpretation service has interpreters that also serve as operators, they may be conflating connection times to operators with interpreter connection times.

When comparing interpretation providers, be sure to ask how long it takes to reach an interpreter—not an answering system.

2. How do years of experience make better interpreters?

In promoting the quality of their interpretation, your service provider might point to how many years of experience their interpreters have. But what exactly constitutes “experience,” and how does it result in better interpreters?

What counts as “interpretation experience” might differ greatly from person to person and not guarantee consistent interpretation quality. Instead of wondering how to quantify experience, you might ask which proactive efforts your phone interpretation service makes to ensure quality in their interpreter hiring, training, testing, certification, and quality monitoring. Objective quality standards also ensure that high-quality is consistent across the organization, not just with an individual.

3. What do they really mean by "center-based interpreters"?

Interpreters who work in secured facilities with standardized processes and policies may provide better data security and quality of interpretation. This could explain why many phone interpretation services claim their interpreters work in some type of “center,” but what exactly can they tell you about these centers?

The questions below may help you learn if the provider is stretching the definition of “contact center”:

  • What is the address?
  • What is the size of their operational space (not the size of the building)?
  • What managerial functions take place within the centers? (Do they have managers, supervisors, quality monitoring, etc)?
  • What are their processes regarding security and access to the facility?
  • What processes and procedures related to training and quality take place in the centers?
  • Can you visit the center to review operations or does a third party audit the center for external verification of processes and procedures?
  • If your vendor is unable to provide satisfactory answers, what benefit does their “center-based” service create?

4. What is the total cost for service?

Your phone interpretation service provider may propose a highly-competitive per-minute price, which you only pay once an interpreter comes on the line. Terms like these may seem straightforward, but they could still leave ways for the phone interpretation service to add hidden costs.

For a more complete picture of how the provider will charge you, ask about the service’s total cost of ownership. This may help uncover hidden costs, like fees for implementation, account management, accessing usage reports, account activation, or additional equipment and infrastructure necessary to fully use the service.

Also, if your provider charges when an interpreter comes on the line, be sure to ask if the provider uses interpreters to double as operators. If they do, your billing may start as soon as your call reaches an interpreter/operator, even if you’re still minutes away from beginning the interpretation session.

For more tips on partnering with the right phone interpretation service for a great multilingual support program, see our multilingual support booklet.

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Topics: Advice and Improvement, Interpretation, Over-the-Phone Interpretation, phone interpretation, PSAP Performance, Customer Satisfaction

Written by CyraCom, LLC

Blogs filed under the CyraCom, LLC authorship are either collaborative efforts or originally authored by team members who are no longer with the company.