Online Interpretation Services for Businesses – Everything you Need to Know

Is your business contemplating using interpretation services for the first time? Then this article is for you. We take a look at what these services are and why they are so valuable to businesses, as well as how you can ensure you find the right company.

What are interpretation services?

In its simplest terms, an interpretation service converts a speaker’s words to another language. As such, it enables the speaker to converse with someone who speaks another language without having to speak that language himself.

What is the difference between translation and interpretation? The former refers to the conversion of language in written documents (or sometimes audio or video files), while the latter refers to the conversion of spoken language.

What are the different types of interpretation? There are several services that businesses can use, depending on their needs. For business meetings, consecutive interpretation is the type of service that’s usually required. This is where the interpreter translates the speaker’s words every couple of sentences, while the speaker waits for him to do so. By translating after each participant speaks, the interpreter enables a flow of conversation between those present.

Some companies also call on simultaneous interpreters to support them with their language needs. What does simultaneous interpretation mean? It is the kind of verbal translation that takes place at conferences, where interpreters are located in booths around the main hall, delivering the speaker’s words in other languages, so that participants can listen in their native tongues via headsets. The ‘simultaneous’ element refers to the fact that the speaker doesn’t pause for the interpreter to speak – he/she must keep pace with the speaker, translating one sentence aloud even as the speaker moves on to the next.

Whispered interpreting, relay interpreting, liaison interpreting, and travel interpreting all provide businesses with further language options; you can check over here for more details of these types of interpretation. Of all the different types, consecutive and simultaneous tend to be the most commonly used, particularly when it comes to online services.

What are the business benefits of using an interpretation agency?

Businesses use interpreters for a wide range of reasons; after all, there is a range of business benefits associated with being able to communicate in multiple languages.

For some companies, it is a global expansion that drives their need to hire professional linguists. By reaching out through webinars, they can connect with a wide audience. By giving viewers the option to listen and participate in more than one language, they can expand that potential audience even more. The multilingual element means that the same webinar can reach far more people. Not only does this make the webinar better value for money in terms of how much it cost to produce, but it turns it from a relatively local marketing tool to one with international reach.

As well as supporting companies to build up a broader customer base, by enabling them to connect with wider audiences, online interpretation services allow businesses to deliver enhanced customer services. Quite simply, they enable two-way dialogue between the business and its clientele, even if the two speak different languages. This is a key offering for many international businesses, which is why many decent interpreting agencies offer multilingual, 24/7 customer support as a standalone service that clients can buy.

Another business benefit of multilingual communication is a much greater range of options regarding manufacturing and/or the supply of parts. A businessperson who speaks one language may find themselves restricted in terms of the parts that they can buy in or the cost of manufacturing their items. Those who use video interpreting, meanwhile, have the world at their fingertips when it comes to supply chain and manufacturing arrangements.

How to find the right business interpretation company

When it comes to interpreting, not all language service providers (LSPs) are equal. As such, businesses need to be careful to ensure that they hire a firm not just with the required language skills but also with a proven track record that clearly demonstrates their knowledge of the client’s industry. After all, an agency that is used to working in the medical or legal sector, for example, will be better positioned to handle the specialist terms that jobs in such industries tend to encompass.

It’s also important to opt for a company that provides complimentary language services. Does your business need translation? How about localization? Or multilingual content writing? It might not now, but how about further down the line? If the LSP you’re already using provides this as well, it will save you having to find a new agency and commit time and expense to the on boarding process all over again.

Demand for interpretation services is large, sustained, and global. The USA Social Security Administration, for example, delivered telephone interpretation in 44 Asian and Pacific Islander languages during the January to March 2024 quarter, with interpreters handling over 42,000 calls.

The comprehensive infrastructure that exists to deliver interpreting by telephone and video means that businesses can find it easy to access such services, but it’s important not to jump at the first advert that pops up as a result of a Google search. Instead, businesses should shortlist agencies and undertake due diligence and interview process, just as they would with suppliers of other services.

Points to pay particular attention to are the length of time for which the agency has been around (as only those that are genuinely good at what they do will stand the test of time), the breadth of its offering (in terms of services and specializations, as well as languages) and of course its online reputation.

Online interpreting services are easy to use and can deliver a wide range of business benefits to companies around the world. If your company is planning to try one in the near future, follow the guidance above to ensure that you get a service that meets your needs and will allow you to progress your company plans swiftly and effectively, no matter which languages you may require.