Say goodbye to legacy call-centre configurations. Four new capabilities exist that can increase limited-English customer satisfaction, increase productivity, and reduce costs.

Technology has brought incredible changes to the contact centre landscape. Cloud communications, artificial intelligence, and a more intentional use of social media are among the most pronounced shifts in recent years.

When it comes to language access, however, contact centres still tend to rely on legacy configurations that were put in place when over-the-phone interpreting (OPI) was less sophisticated. The handling of non-English calls can be time-intensive as a result, with a maze of options and numerous steps that tend to confuse multicultural callers. Limited-English customers frequently leave these interactions frustrated, while back-end expenses escalate.

Fortunately, OPI has evolved to the degree that there are now affordable, easy-to-implement customizations that streamline the availability of language access, which in turn delights your multilingual customers, saves time, and reduces costs. These flexible configurations equalize the customer experience of English speakers and non-English speakers.

Four Customizations

Here are four contact-centre customizations that can improve the efficiency of your organisation’s access to language support:

Skip the Line

With a legacy configuration, providing language access has typically involved an agent putting a caller on hold, then dialling out through a series of manual steps that ultimately result in a connection with a professional interpreter service. These steps can include a conversation with an operator at a language service provider. Alternatively, your agent may be required to navigate an interactive-voice-response (IVR) process on their own, identifying the required language, and keying in any needed information along the way. This process adds a significant amount of time to a call. The IVR alone averages 30 seconds.

LanguageLine UK has a new capability that allows non-English speakers to “skip the line” and sidestep this 30-second wait. Contact centres are able to streamline interpreter access by maximizing the power of customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This enables your agents to access interpreters directly.

With this “skip the line” capability, your agent simply clicks a button in their CRM indicating the language needed. The call bypasses any IVR or data-collection steps and is routed directly into the interpreter queue for the target language. Your customers save valuable time in connecting to an interpreter; meanwhile, your call-handle times are reduced, productivity is enhanced, and cost-savings are realized.

The ability to implement this capability is dependent upon your platform. Any organisation that has a contact centre with support for outbound session initiation protocol (SIP) capabilities can implement “skip the line.” The amount of technical support will vary depending on the platform. Those that have older, premise-based PBX contact centre platforms may be able to implement this solution, as well.

Channel your bilingual overflow

Many call centres are staffed with bilingual agents. But what happens if the volume of inbound calls exceeds the number of agents able to answer? The limited-English caller often remains on hold for several minutes. Sometimes they are sent to voicemail; other times their call rolls over to an English-speaking agent, who assures them that a bilingual agent is en route.

Fortunately, a new overflow solution exists that makes it possible for these calls to be handled consistently, with 100 percent of the experience taking place in your customer’s desired language.

In this model, the non-English speaker begins the call as they always have, either by dialing an 800 number or selecting their preferred language from a menu. If a bilingual call agent is not available, the call is promptly connected to the LanguageLine platform. The caller is greeted with an in-language message. Within seconds, the call is answered by a live interpreter in the appropriate language. An available English-speaking agent is then brought into the call, which is completed with the non-English speaker, interpreter, and English-speaking agent all on the line.

Create a Custom Language Menu

There are two sides of the coin when it comes to reaching an interpreter, and each is vitally important. The first is the experience your customers have in reaching a contact-centre agent. The second is the experience your agent has in reaching an interpreter. With a legacy system, your agents might need to sift through a long menu of options in order to arrive at the desired language.

Now there is a way to simplify this process so that your agents can access an interpreter more quickly. LanguageLine UK is able to assist contact centres in setting up custom language menus that prioritize the top languages you encounter; for example, “Press 1 for Spanish. Press 2 for Mandarin,” and so on.

As with the previous options, this reduces costs by shortening call-handle times, which also has the effect of delighting customers by connecting them more quickly with an interpreter.

Design a Toll-Free Number for Call Agents

This option takes the custom language menu and does it one better. Both options help streamline access to an interpreter by reducing the amount of effort your agent must expend to connect with language support.

In a traditional model, your contact-centre agent fields a call from a limited-English caller, dials a phone number to reach a language-access provider, enters a client ID, and then navigates a language menu. This takes time, and the need for the agent to manually enter data increases the possibility for error.

In this new configuration, a toll-free number is customized specifically to you. Your assigned client ID is passed through automatically and does not need to be entered by the agent. The agent can then go straight to a custom language menu if one has been implemented. Ultimately this shaves seconds off of each interaction, which improves customer satisfaction and reduces costs.

LanguageLine Can Help

The common theme running through these four options is that they streamline access to an interpreter. By decreasing handle times by as much as 30 seconds per call, your organisation will delight customers while managing costs. Ultimately, the implementation of these innovative solutions makes your English-speaking and non-English-speaking customer experiences mirror one another.

LanguageLine believes that being understood is empowering. For nearly four decades, we have worked with contact centres to overcome language and cultural hurdles. Please contact us so that we can learn more about your organisation.