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ULG’s Language Solutions Blog

4 Red Flags to Look Out for in Interpretation Services

Interpretation services vary in scope and audience. However, the ultimate objective remains the same: to bridge any linguistic gaps in verbal communication so that all customers receive the same level of care and service. When paired correctly, the interpreter will pay special attention to cultural and geographic factors that inform accurate interpretation. Whether over-the-phone or on-site, both simultaneous and consecutive interpretation models provide a range of benefits to companies and consumers.

When choosing an interpretation service for your organization, the question becomes, how can I match a customer with the proper interpretation services? You’ll want to partner with a language solutions provider that understands the ins and outs of your industry and can provide accurate, localized, and timely interpretation services. 

In this article, we discuss the four most common red flags to look out for so you can find a solution that creates the very best user experience for all of your customers. 

1. Failure to Rely on Subject Matter Experts

Does your current interpretation service provider ask about your unique industry needs? This is an essential first step. Without content awareness, interpreters may misrepresent critical information. Niche industries require the expertise of interpreters with relevant experience in the field to interpret jargon and phraseology. 

For example, interpreters in the legal or insurance industry must understand technical language specific to contractual terms and agreements. Failure to do so could place the consumers with limited English proficiency in a precarious position. Other industries are constantly evolving, such as in the technology space. Interpreters must meet with subject matter experts or demonstrate their own level of industry expertise related to new technologies, integrations, and thought leadership to provide consumers with quality customer service at every stage.

ULG has highly-trained interpreters with industry knowledge and relevant experience in fields such as healthcare, government, education, insurance, entertainment, manufacturing, legal, and more. Our interpreters learn to speak your company’s language so you can offer customers seamless interpretation services every time. Find out more about the industries ULG serves

2. Inadequate Cultural Competence

In addition to specific industry knowledge, you’ll also want to partner with a language service provider whose interpreters take cultural nuance into account. High-quality interpretation services must be competent in the following areas:

  • Dialects, accents, and localized language: You’ll need to have a detailed breakdown in the linguistic populations your organization serves so you can provide interpretation solutions specific to the target language and dialect.
  • Colloquial language including idioms, expressions, and slang: Limited English proficiency (LEP) customers may use informal language that the interpreter must be familiar with in order to interpret from the source language into the target language. 
  • Cultural awareness as it relates to traditions, customs, gestures and facial expressions: Cultural context is critical to providing accurate and complete linguistic interpretation. 

Interpreters must sometimes relay the meaning or spirit of a conversation, rather than a literal translation. When it comes to interpretation services in the healthcare industry, for instance, accurately conveying the advice of a medical professional to a patient is paramount. Misinterpretation in the healthcare field causes major problems. At the very least, it can cause confusion, but can also lead to more devastating effects, such as a patient not understanding their treatment plan or even their medical diagnosis. 

Beyond the language interpretation itself, interpreters must be mindful of external—albeit associated—cultural considerations such as body language, hand gestures, and eye contact. Even the age or gender of the interpreters themselves can have cultural implications that interpreters should be aware of. For example, some female patients may prefer an interpreter of the same gender, especially when discussing sensitive healthcare matters. 

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3.  Lack of Technical Equipment and Resourcing

Some interpreters work in an in-office environment, while others may work remotely. As you begin to partner with a language service provider, you’ll want to make sure that their interpreters have proper equipment at their disposal to provide high-quality interpretation. 

Interpretation services must provide easy-to-use audio and recording equipment that is compatible with a variety of devices. Before conducting simultaneous or consecutive interpreting, interpreters must test their microphones and headphones to make sure the audio quality is clear. A lack of technical equipment compromises the quality of any interpretation service. Check with your language provider to get familiar with the type of equipment interpreters will be using on a regular basis. 

Without the proper audio equipment, interpreters could mishear the source language. The same goes for customers in the target language. Language service providers need to make sure their interpreters have the right tech at their disposal, most importantly a headset and microphone. Proper staff resourcing and robust interpretation technology guarantee the best user experience possible for you as the customer.

4. Inability to Scale 

Most organizations request interpretation based on the current linguistic demographics. However, linguistic demographics of any customer base are constantly shifting and language service providers must be able to adapt accordingly. A sudden influx in speakers of a particular language requires an equally swift response on the part of language partners. And linguistic demographics are always changing. In Wisconsin, where an estimated 400 Afghan refugees will resettle following the 2021 Taliban takeover, a shortage of interpreters is contributing to a complicated transition

At ULG, linguistic liaisons monitor dashboards to determine which languages are in highest demand at any given time. In response, they can direct more interpreters to those languages with the most need in real time. 

Language service providers must be flexible with the interpretation solutions they offer so they can accommodate a diverse range of languages that accurately reflect the needs of the local community, even as those needs change. The same goes for regional dialects and language localization efforts. Scalability is key. As linguistic populations shrink and grow, a language provider’s solutions must adapt accordingly. 

Serve Your Customers with the Right Interpretation Service

ULG offers interpretation in more than 200 languages to meet the needs of your organization’s customers. ULG offers industry-specific interpretation services in the target language, from healthcare and manufacturing to government, finance, and everything in between. Clear communication with your clients should always come first, and we’re here to ensure that accessibility. 

Interested in learning more about the interpretation solutions ULG provides? Contact us today.

Let’s discuss how we can help with your translation and interpretation needs. Contact us today. >>

Topics: Interpreting