Helping Your Agents Use Phone Interpretation Effectively (Part 1)

Mar 26, 2019

Using phone interpreters effectively

Are your agents using multilingual support, including phone interpretation, in the most effective way possible?

This is a question many contact center leaders - despite having made the investment in granting their agents access to interpreters - have yet to ask. Here are four tips from Voiance designed to help your agents get the greatest possible benefit from their use of phone interpreters:

1. Wait for the interpreter to introduce him/herself and provide an Identication Number

Professional interpreters will read a short script at the start of a call. They will introduce themselves, explain their role as a conduit for conversation, and give their ID number. This is a requirement for phone interpreters at Voiance, so they'll likely persist until you allow them to do it - it ensures your agent knows who they spoke to - so it's best to leave a space for it at the start of the call.

2. Write down the interpreter ID number in the customer's file, if applicable

Many customer-service-focused contact centers have a system for taking call notes and documenting the interaction between agent and customer. In cases of non-English speaking customers, this documentation should include a note that an interpreter was used, as well as the method (bilingual agent, Voiance phone interpreter, etc) and interpreter's ID number, if applicable. The interpreter will restate their number at the end of the call in case you missed it.

3. Allow the interpreter to greet your customer

In the mind of most non-English speaking customers, an interpreter brought onto the call to assist is as much a representative of your organization as your agent is. This may be technically inaccurate, but it's likely to be the customer's perception. So in the same way you encourage your agent to establish a friendly rapport to improve the customer experience, it's wise to give the interpreter a moment to introduce him/herself and put the customer at ease before launching into the substance of the call.

4. Give the interpreter a brief explanation of the call topic/scenario

It's true that the interpreter's primary role is to act as a conduit, relaying the agent's message to the customer and the customer's responses back to the agent. However, professional interpreters don't use word-for-word interpreting; they're trained and certified to convey the meaning of those words. That means context matters, and taking a minute to explain to the interpreter the basic circumstances of the call will enable them to provide the most accurate possible interpretation.

Check back with the Voiance blog for Part Two of  our best practices for working with an interpreter. In the meantime, take a look at our RFP guide for insights into choosing a language services provider:

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Topics: Best Practices, Advice and Improvement, Over-the-Phone Interpretation, phone interpretation

Written by Graham Newnum

Digital Marketing Specialist experienced in researching and writing about language access-related topics for healthcare, business, and government.
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