Phone Interpreters: Remote Interpretation in the Time of Pandemics

March 25, 2020
Phone Interpreters: Remote Interpretation in the Time of Pandemics

Has your business had to flex its customer service and/or operational model in response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, you’re far from alone. When you employ staff who speak different languages, or communicate regularly with customers, partners and other stakeholders whose native tongues are different to your own, staying clear and on message is essential. This is particularly true in times of crisis. 

Over the phone interpretation is not a new concept, but it’s one that truly comes into its own during the time of pandemics. 

Our Crisis Communications Center is here for just that reason. You may need to move fast, pivoting your business in new directions at short notice. Being able to access skilled interpreters at a moment's notice could help you to maintain your workflow and keep operating smoothly at this critical time. 

Given the global nature of the current coronavirus pandemic, there’s plenty of call for interpretation services and particularly those delivered by a skilled medical interpreter. 

An online interpretation service can maintain fluid and accurate communication even in the most difficult of crises. It can deliver over the phone interpretation for a wide range of industries, providing a calm and consistent service for the public sector, healthcare sector, tech industry, other fields relying on innovation and a vast array of private businesses. 

Efficient Use of Telephone Interpretation Services for Various Industries

While the need for medical phone interpretation services (as opposed to face to face interpretation services) has been highlighted by the need for isolation that coronavirus has brought about, the concept is not one that requires a global pandemic to make it useful. 

Providing language interpretation online means that over the phone interpretation companies can serve customers around the world at fairly minimal cost. They need to cover the cost of the language expert concerned (a French interpreter, Chinese interpreter, Korean interpreter, Polish interpreter, etc.), but they don’t need to cover the expense of that individual’s travel. Nor do they waste time waiting for interpreters to get to the right location, as on-site interpretation services have to. As such, phone interpreting companies are able to provide a rapid and responsive means of communication for clients around the world. 

Phone interpretation has a wide range of business uses. From startups with global ambitions to international conglomerates with operations on every continent, a reliable telephone interpreter service can deliver smooth communications that allow the business to operate efficiently despite national borders and linguistic barriers. 

Medical Interpretation for Healthcare

At present, demand for medical interpretation services for healthcare is understandably high. In times of crisis – and the COVID-19 pandemic is certainly that – responsible interpretation can play a key role in transferring accurate, timely information between countries. 

Over the phone interpretation jobs are some of those that have face minimal disruption in locked down cities and countries, as they are already delivered remotely (aside from the disruption caused to those professional interpreters currently caring for children who would otherwise be in school or childcare). 

Certified interpreters who deliver phone interpretation for the medical sector can help to alleviate the need for non-essential personnel to go out. This is important at a time when we need to do all we can to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and to reduce pressure on the global healthcare system. You can discover more about how to become a certified medical interpreter by clicking the link below. 

Read more: How to Become a Certified Medical Interpreter 

This is an area of professional interpretation where networks are already well established. Companies already have the structures in place to deliver a telephone interpreter service to those parts of the healthcare system that need it. And where demand has increased significantly, companies are well positioned to quickly scale up by recruiting conference interpreters who are currently trapped at home and unable to perform their usual jobs. By switching from their usual simultaneous interpreting to consecutive interpretation, they can add to the ranks of those providing telephone interpreting in support of healthcare systems around the world. 

In practice, those in need of a French interpreter, Spanish interpreter or Italian interpreter (all of which are currently in high demand) can route their needs through a single telephone interpreter service that can deliver multiple languages. This means that healthcare providers can work with a sole point of contact, whether they want a Chinese interpreter, Korean interpreter, Spanish interpreter or any other interpreters. The result is a smooth, effective process in the midst of a global crisis. You can read more about the role of medical interpreters and translators by clicking the link below. 

Read more: The Coronavirus, Global Pandemics and the Role of the Medical Translator and Interpreter

Certified Over the Phone Interpretation for Businesses

When it comes to phone interpreting, it’s not just the healthcare sector that is pushing for additional resources. Many businesses are seeking certified oral interpretation to help them navigate the rapidly changing landscape that COVID-19 has created and to continue delivering customer services in this new world that we find ourselves in. With entire teams working from home, companies are turning to tech-based remote working solutions like never before. 

For companies employing staff teams who speak more than one native language, or operating across international borders, the changing business landscape is leading to both conference call interpretation and simultaneous interpretation requests. This has led to many businesses seeking a professional interpretation company to assist them with delivering ‘business as usual’ in a global landscape that is anything but. You can read more about the unique aspects of conducting business under the COVID-19 pandemic by clicking the link below. 

Take as an example a company that usually employs a Romanian translator to deliver key messages to part of the staff team. In a rapidly changing environment, it may be that the company wishes to provide updates by phone instead. Using interpreter services makes that possible. 

Read more: Doing Business Under COVID-19: Going Online to Weather the Storm

Technical Interpretation for Tech and Innovations

Strict quarantine measures are being applied globally, but that doesn’t stop companies from trying to innovate. Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic has created a need for innovation in many sectors. The medical and scientific communities are racing to produce testing kits and vaccines. 

Meanwhile, the healthcare sector is being tested like never before. This has led many companies in the manufacturing sector to pivot their services in entirely unexpected ways. Businesses like Ford are working on making ventilators and face masks, while Louis Vuitton has turned its attention to hand sanitiser. 

Then there’s the tech sector. Companies are under pressure to enable remote working on a scale that we’ve never witnessed. Communication is crucial for the necessary innovation to occur and phone interpretation plays a key role in that. Phone interpreter jobs can deliver technical interpretation expertise to those who need it most, focusing on enabling accurate voice call communication at the time when it’s needed most. 

The strict quarantine measures that are currently in place around the world are not likely to be short-lived. At the time of writing, President Trump is addressing the US and speaking of a hope that businesses can open again at Easter. Yet the World Health Organization is cautioning that the US could become the next centre of the coronavirus pandemic. The situation is changing incredibly fast on a global scale and over the phone interpreting, for the tech sector and other industries, needs to respond accordingly. 

Remote Simultaneous Interpreting for the Public Sector

The public sector is also reliant on the calm, accurate communication that a decent telephone interpreter can deliver. Countries are implementing measures to protect their citizens financially as well as medically, which is putting huge pressure on the public sector around the world. Rarely, if ever, has such rapid innovation been seen in peacetime. 

Public services that deliver bilingual or multilingual output range from housing departments and services for the unemployed to social care services. While many staff have been urged or indeed forced to work from home, the work itself has not gone away. 

This means that both simultaneous interpretation and conference call interpretation services are being sought by public sector bodies who require clear and efficient language communication. Simultaneous interpretation (often also referred to as ‘conference interpretation’) is where the interpreter provides a real-time verbal translation. It’s a skill that’s not just suited to international conferences but also to a variety of online events, from webinars to remote conferences. 

Had enough to read for today? Then here’s a short video that sums everything up!


How to Get Hold of Phone Interpreting Companies when COVID-19 is Rampant

Whether you need an interpreter, translator or other language professional, it’s time to investigate phone translation and interpretation services. Available to clients around the world, such services are used to responding swiftly to new requests for a telephone interpreter, no matter which language is required. 

If your business needs an interpretation service, look online to discover your options. Technology has come a long way in the last couple of years, so if you have preconceptions about the efficacy of remote telephone interpreting, drop them now. 

You’re unlikely to find a free interpreter service to meet your needs but bear in mind that prices can vary hugely between companies. As such, you should be able to find an over the phone interpretation service that meets your budget as well as your needs. Just remember to read plenty of testimonials before signing up with a particular company – and that not all reviews are what they seem on the internet! 

It’s definitely worth asking your peers for recommendations too. These don’t have to be recommendations that fit the precise needs of your business, as most phone interpretation companies cover a multitude of languages and business sectors. Suffice it to say, therefore, that if a colleague recommends a particular company then they are worthy of your attention, at least initially. Even if a colleague can recommend a court interpreting service (for example) at least you know that the company has impressed one of your contacts sufficiently for them to make the recommendation to you in the first place. 

Reliability of Professional Interpreting Agencies

When it comes to professional interpreting agencies, reliability is everything. Companies need to know that the linguists they are using are going to deliver accurate interpretation services each and every time. No matter the sector, there is no scope for error when it comes to telephone interpretation. 

Of course, companies don’t have to rely on professional interpreting agencies. There are plenty of freelance over the phone interpreters out there who provide superb services. Freelancer phone interpreters can be a cost-effective choice. After all, they don’t come with the overheads that interpretation companies do, even when those companies keep their costs low through a remote-first structure. 

However, relying on a single, freelance interpreter can quickly unravel if that interpreter becomes unwell or is unavailable for any other reason. For companies that need interpretation services for more than one language, setting up a network for freelancers, while perfectly feasible, also quickly becomes quite labour-intensive. By comparison, using an agency that does all the legwork when it comes to finding the right linguists and ensuring they are available at the right times holds plenty of appeal. 

Final Word

Phone interpretation has a huge range of uses. It can connect company bosses with their employees and brands with their customers. It can also deliver much-needed information in an accurate and timely manner. 

This latter service is a core focus right now for many over the phone interpretation agencies. Countries across the globe are calling for their citizens to pull together and take extraordinary measures in order to stem the spread of COVID-19. While there are early but promising signs that this is being achieved in China and South Korea, other countries are only just beginning to tackle the virus in earnest. 

This means that the sharing of medical information, whether between healthcare providers or between those providing and receiving medical services, is exceptionally important. The better the process of communication, the more lives we have the potential to save, with each country being able to implement policy decisions based on the latest information. 

COVID-19 has changed life in ways that we could not have imagined just a few months ago. While there is a necessary emphasis on isolating from each other, we nonetheless need to work together in order to overcome the devastating social and financial impact of the coronavirus. 

Telephone interpretation services can help with this. There are well-respected services with established networks of professional interpreters in place all over the world. Businesses that rely on these services can know that, whatever else happens, they will at least be able to communicate clearly and effectively, irrespective of language barriers. 

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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