On many occasions, when I find myself out meeting new people, one of the first topics that come up is what do you do? My answer is never short, because while giving a job title might describe what I do in general terms (managing a call center) it isn’t nearly as exciting as the industry that I work in, and that is where the conversation blossoms. When I tell people that I work for a language service provider, it really opens the door for a lot of questions. In fact, unless you work for a company that already utilizes interpreter services, it is likely that you never knew that such a company exists! I find that people are often fascinated to learn about the language service industry. And they express amazement that not only do we have interpreters that go out and provide service to clients at their location, we are able to connect interpreters over the phone on-demand. While it sounds like it may be a challenge to find a Russian interpreter to help you on the fly at four in the morning, we are able to connect a client with an interpreter in a matter of seconds. This service has many different names: over-the-phone interpretation, or OPI for short, or telephone or telephonic interpretation, and it is the most utilized and cost-effective interpretation service that we offer.
What is Over-the-Phone Interpretation?
Over-the-Phone Interpretation, in its most basic form, is exactly what it sounds like: having an interpreter assist you over the phone. With OPI services you can break down any language barrier that you may be faced with, and communicate with your limited English proficiency (LEP) customers just as you would with customers that are native English speakers. With no prior thought or planning, you can call in to your language service provider and be connected with an interpreter of almost any language at any time of the day.
Key Differences Between Over-the-Phone Interpretation and Onsite Interpretation
While having an interpreter in person may sound like an attractive option at first thought, there are many benefits that Over-the-Phone Interpretation has over Onsite Interpretation. A huge bonus is that OPI is readily available no matter when and where you are calling from. Another attractive feature of OPI is that you pay for your interpreter by the minute, so you are only paying for the time that you use the service. There are typically not any minimum charges and no cancellation fees to worry about when using an over-the-phone interpreter.
How Does Over-the-Phone Interpretation Work?
The finer details of Over-the-Phone Interpretation lie in the method of conversation the client chooses to use to carry out the call. OPI can be executed in a few different ways in order to accommodate specific needs and preferences. There is no need to invest in any special equipment or preschedule over-the-phone interpretation services. Simply passing the phone receiver back and forth between the English speaker and the non-English speaker works well for most people. Other times clients can choose to place the call on speaker phone, so the passing back and forth of the receiver is eliminated. Other people use headsets for both the English speaker and non-English speaker. It is really a matter of preference. While each method is a little different, there is no impact on the quality or final outcome of the service.
The benefits of Having a Language Service Provider on Standby to Assist with Your Interpretation Needs
Once connected with an interpreter, the conversation carries on just as though you were talking directly to your customer, with pauses to allow for interpretation. Imagine this scenario: you’re at work and a customer calls or walks in, and when you go to assist them you find that there is a language barrier and you both are having trouble communicating with each other. Instead of fumbling through a broken conversation, where each party only understands a bit of what is going on, you can pick up your phone and call your language service provider. You will not only be solving a problem, but providing excellent service to your customer! Once you call in, an English speaking customer service representative will answer your call and connect you with an interpreter. Our company services over 240 languages and dialects, so give us a call. Even if you are looking for a language you have never heard of, chances are that we have an interpreter waiting to assist you! If all of that sounds cumbersome, I’d like to put it in perspective: this entire process that I have outlined can be completed in less than two minutes! It’s really pretty amazing how quickly an issue that is as big as communication can be solved.
Final thoughts on Over-the-Phone Interpretation
Over-the-Phone Interpretation is quick, inexpensive, and an effective way to communicate with some people that you may not otherwise be able to. With access to so many languages right at your fingertips, it is a clear path to opening new doors, creating new business, and assisting people that may otherwise go without your help.
Jennifer Wolff, Call Center Manager
Jennifer has been with Language Link since 2009. She started in the call center as a Customer Service Representative, then was promoted to supervisor position, which she held for three years. She then managed Language Link’s Vendor Management Office before stepping into her current role as Call Center Manager in January, 2018. She is responsible for the 24/7 oversight of call center operations and staff.
About Language Link
At Language Link, we excel at helping our customers grow their brands through our translation and interpretation services. Headquartered in Vancouver, Washington and incorporated in 1991, Language Link has more than 27 years of experience as a full-service multilingual communication agency. We have highly qualified linguists working in over 240 languages and dialects. We also offer a comprehensive suite of translation options, including audio visual services and eLearning and website localization, as well as Over-the-Phone and Video Remote Interpretation.