As of 2022, more than 25 million U.S. residents spoke a language other than English at home, according to the US Census Bureau. Utility companies provide essential services, and it’s vital to ensure that all populations have equal access to the services they offer, regardless of language. But language services don’t just benefit customers—the organizations themselves stand to benefit as well. For example, utility companies that optimize their interpreting services reap measurable rewards and improve their standing in today’s rapidly changing business and regulatory environment. With that in mind, here are 7 competitive advantages over-the-phone interpreting (OPI) services provide to utility companies, and how to make the most of them.
Corporate Responsibility and Equity for LEP Customers
The option to connect to a skilled interpreter levels the playing field for customers with limited English proficiency (LEP), ensuring they have equal access to the services your organization provides. Your customers have a lot riding on those services: comfort, communication, access to information, sometimes even physical well-being. Meanwhile, consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with issues related to equity and corporate responsibility, as are government entities at all levels.
Providing quality language access for LEP consumers is one step you can take to answer these concerns.
Utility companies are subject to various federal and state regulations, depending on the type of services offered and the locality. The specifics vary, but enabling LEP customers to access information and services in their preferred language is a baseline for compliance no matter where you are.
Over-the-phone interpreting services are the easiest and most efficient way to ensure that all of your customers can get the assistance they need when they call in.
Improved Customer Experience/Overall Reputation
Making it easy for customers to get the information they need in their preferred language isn’t simply a nice thing to do, it’s also smart business. Trying to communicate in a language you don’t speak well is bound to create a poor customer experience.
For example, if your customer calls in about a bill and doesn’t understand the explanation given due to a language barrier, they may eventually give up and leave the call in frustration. But they won’t be happy. And in a natural disaster, the stakes (and the level of frustration) are even higher.
Poor customer experience leads to a poor overall reputation, especially these days. If your organization is on Google Maps, then your customers can leave a review. Make sure it’s a good one: focus on the customer experience and don’t let your LEP customers fall through the cracks.
Improved Call Center Metrics and KPIs
Want to improve your call center metrics? Improving your capacity to help LEP customers is one step you can take. Well-run contact centers require a careful balancing act to minimize average handling time and maximize customer satisfaction. Language barriers drive up handling times, as information often has to be repeated more than once. Long connection times to reach an interpreter and inefficient call flows can exacerbate the impact.
Your language services provider should be able to offer solutions that minimize the effect on average handling time and enable you to resolve more customer issues the first time around. In fact, according to a survey of contact center employees by ICMI, 58% of respondents said: “their internal agent productivity and efficiency improved once they partnered with a language interpretation service.”
At ULG, we understand how important it is to handle all calls efficiently the first time. That’s why we offer a complimentary call flow analysis to maximize these gains.
As the frequency of severe weather events and outages is increasing in many places across the country, your company needs to be able to answer inquiries from culturally and linguistically diverse customers quickly and efficiently. Choosing an over-the-phone interpretation provider with the ability to scale services up when demand for different languages skyrockets will improve your ability to support your customers during outages or other surge times.
Additionally, as utility providers modernize their services (for example with smart meters and a smart grid), they must be ready to handle the additional questions that these changes will generate.
Improved Bottom Line
There’s no doubt about it: more efficient workflows, improved metrics, improved customer service and the ability to more easily implement new services improve your bottom line. And if you have competitors, agility and efficiency are key to out-competing them. At ULG, we offer a complimentary cost-benefit analysis. On average, this service saves our clients between 5% and 10%.
Want to see how much we could save your business? Contact us for details.
How United Language Group Can Help
United Language Group has the experience and capacity to help utilities of all sizes improve their multilingual customer service. To start, we offer disaster-proof OPI services with an in-depth business continuity plan and redundancy measures of our own. We have six Global Service Product sites in different geographic locations to ensure that even if there’s a natural disaster in one area, we will still have interpreters available to assist you. In the event of an emergency or service outage in your area, we can quickly scale up our interpreting services to handle the increased call volume.
Additionally, our Direct Connect and Community Connect options reduce administrative time and ensure a better customer experience. With Direct Connect, LEP customers get direct access to an interpreter who speaks their native language and assists them with their call inquiry from start to finish. This reduces frustration, incomplete calls, call handling time and overall costs. With Community Connect, your representative can team up with one of our interpreters for up to an hour, to take up to 6 additional calls in the same language. This innovation reduces overall connection time to an interpreter and reduces call handling time by 14%!
We also offer a customizable IVR, a flexible dashboard to track the metrics important to your business, and responsive customer care, available 24/7.
Our Over-the-Phone Interpreting Services in Action
We have a proven track record of offering flexible and efficient OPI services to content centers of all sizes. For example, as the sole provider of over-the-phone interpreting services for the country’s largest social welfare provider, we seamlessly handled high call volumes and spikes in usage with vetted interpreters meeting the highest standards in over 200 languages.
If you’re ready to level up the OPI services you offer your customers, we’re here to help. Contact us to see how we can streamline and disaster-proof the way you offer customer service to your LEP customers!