Thursday, September 28, 2017

Still Using the Same Old LSP for Your Call Center?

Man jumping with green letter "p" for Pros, woman smiling with letter "c" for Cons.

So you've decided to list the pros and cons of sticking with the same Language Service Provider (LSP) for your call center.

It's not a pretty topic, but as you know, when things go wrong in the call center, it's bad for the brand, for you, and for everyone else who calls expecting superior services.

As an LSP customer, you should occasionally shop around and research other vendors. The pace of development and technology is different than it was even 5 years ago. Some Language Service Providers have grown, some have been bought out, and some have misunderstood your value as a client and partner.

So here you go, a couple pros vs. cons with tools to ensure your current, or potentially new, LSP is a fit for your quality and response-time metrics.

Pro - You know and understand the relationship.

The service appears to work when needed and you know how and when to expect the bill.

Con - You don't know what you don't know. 

Without a comparison or a benchmark, it is hard to discern performance issues or missed opportunities when you have been using the same workflow and processes. Customer service, its approach, and resolution techniques are changing as fast as technology development. You should have an expectation in customer-resolution and answer metrics. For example, a 99% customer resolution streak and accessing a Spanish interpreter within 19 seconds should now be your standard.

Pro - You love their cheap per-minute rate. 

You’re using a low-price interpretation service because it keeps the fees low and since you don’t speak the second language, you are unaware of any problems that may exist.

Con - You're not figuring in the total cost of cheap interpretation.

You pay a low price but may incur high costs if the interpretation service your customers receive is of substandard quality. Which, over time, will cause measurable impact and damage to your customer’s engagement and credibility of your company. You can lower your overall costs by using an LSP that consistently delivers a measurable quality in service.

It's important to understand that your LSP choice has a direct impact on your risk management. When you decide to review other LSPs, here are additional questions you should be asking:

  • “Tell me about your recruitment efforts for potential projects.”
  • What’s the process you go through to staff assignments?”
  • How will my calls impact your total call capacity?
  • What is your implementation process for new accounts?
  • “How quickly can you implement?”
These questions are an excellent indicator of the quality you can expect from the LSP.

Finally, hiring an LSP is like any other service. Ask for references that are applicable to your business, e.g. financial services, medical, or legal.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Helping Healthcare Facilities Quickly Resolve ACA Requirements

Our goal at CTS LanguageLink is to educate entities such as yours on how and why you should be using multilingual services from a reputable language service provider.

Are you up-to-date on the Affordable Care Act’s Section 1557?

It addresses meaningful access for individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).

"The Section 1557 final rule applies to any health program or activity, any part of which receives funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), such as hospitals that accept Medicare or doctors who receive Medicaid payments; the Health Insurance Marketplaces and issuers that participate in those Marketplaces; and any health program that HHS itself administers."

Healthcare entities need multilingual services to support the ACA's accessibility requirements. Solving communication dilemmas caused by language barriers should not be handled by untrained individuals.

The following people should not serve as healthcare interpreters: patient's family or friends, children under 18 years old, other patients or visitors, or untrained volunteers.

While these individuals may be proficient in both the source and target languages needed in the interpretation session, they may not be able to separate the gravity of the information to be communicated from the feelings they may have for the patient. They are typically not trained in the profession, which can lead to poor patient care, missed information and details, or in extreme cases, even death. 

As a healthcare facility, it is vital to provide appropriate communication techniques that comply with the law and provide your LEP patients the best care possible.

Finally, having language interpretation materials on display and readily accessible to your office employees assists engagement with patients/clients/customers. Displaying language interpretation content and information in your patient's/client's/customer's language, presents a setting in their terms that overwhelmingly improves the relationship and communicates a path to success.

You know healthcare, we know languages. Learn more about how we can better assist you.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

7 Reasons Schools Partner with Language Service Providers

You are a Kindergarten teacher getting ready to start another year of the hardest and most fulfilling job anyone has on the face of the earth. You have been teaching Kindergarten for more than 15 years and can instantly adjust for the shy kids, the crazy kids, the attention-starved kids, the smart kids, and the kids who need extra help. Are you ready for the kids that do not speak English? Are you ready to work and talk with their parents?

Now, it is freshman orientation and a room full of parents and future students are crammed into the hot gym to listen to the principal, counselors, and senior student body talk about how great freshman year is going to be. You have this amazing presentation to excite the kids, alleviate parent concerns and make sure the kids know where to go on their first day. The faculty is pumped and just as nervous as the freshman for school to start. You walk out onto the gym floor with your slide show loaded, ready to start the year off with a bang. Looking around the room you are excited at the diversity of the various ethnic backgrounds. Will they be able to understand your English-only presentation?

Here are 7 reasons you should work with a language services provider for communication with parents and students who do not speak English fluently.

1. Legal Requirements

Any communication of information about programs, services or activities, provided by the school to English-speaking parents, must also be presented in a language that can be understood by parents with limited English proficiency.

“Where the inability to speak and understand the English language excludes national origin minority group children from effective participation in the educational program offered by a school district, the district must take affirmative steps to rectify the language deficiency in order to open its instructional program to these students."

2. Immediate Access

All great language service providers are able to connect you to a phone interpreter in 30 seconds or less. We know schools move fast and accidents occur at any moment, so timing and access should never be compromised. This requires access 24x7x365, which allows you to cover sporting events, after-school activities, and teachers who work tirelessly into the evening.

3. Language Availability

An individual school or district is rarely able to cover all languages on their own. Even the top eleven most commonly reported languages (according to the US Dept. of Education) is an exciting list of diverse languages. Often, schools struggle to service languages of lesser diffusion, such as Hmong, Arabic, Tagalog, or Haitian Creole. Knowing your student body’s language demography is important, so you can effectively review a potential language service provider’s list of supported languages.
Table 1. Eleven most commonly reported home languages of English language learner (ELL) students: School year 2014–15

4. Pay as You Go

Budgets are mulled over across districts and schools. One of the great advantages of Over-the-Phone interpretation (OPI) services is that you are only charged for the services you use. Also, many language service providers have usage portals and should be able to separate the invoice by departments/schools in the district for billing purposes. You can leverage the usage information from the portal to assist in budget allocation for the next quarter, and then roll it up for end-of-year totals.

5. Prevent Miscommunication

Some schools suggest enlisting “older” children to interpret. You can understand how unprofessional this decision is. Since it’s also illegal, it can pose a huge legal risk to the school and its administration.

Using qualified interpreters ensures professionalism is maintained, providing unbiased communication between the school and non-English speaking students and parents.
Batman pun for batmobile

6. Student Success

Reaching out to parents in their native language will not only generate their support, but will likely increase academic achievement. For example, in certain families, field trips to the zoo are seen as an extravagance and not a necessity. When teachers or school officials send home (translated) permission slips, it may help to include a flyer that explains the inherent value of the trip, translated into the language of the family.
Smiling young Asian boy in baseball hat holding school project

7. Trusted Partnership  

Language Services Providers work with the schools to provide services that make sense. CTS LanguageLink knows that education is not only YOUR job, but it’s also OURS! You are encouraged to create your own program and we will use our 25+ years of experience to work with you to augment your program with proven, time-tested services.

Fast forward to today, the valedictorian, unable to speak English when starting Kindergarten and now graduating with straight As, is preparing to give the speech of a lifetime. His or Her entire family is there to watch and listen to the speech. But you have no worries about any of the non-English speaking family members attending. You are prepared. You have secured CTS LanguageLink’s services, and you are confident that all will be able to understand the speech in their native language.

Schools can take advantage of NASPO contract prices, for over-the-phone interpretation by signing up.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

How to create Translation-Ready Materials

Your time and cost can be saved by creating documents that are developed with translation in mind – from the beginning. Minor issues in small files like instructions manuals or catalogs can quickly become time consuming and require hours of formatting before translation can even begin. Consider how your catalogs, manuals, or documents are assembled. There are several areas where a file and its content can be optimized for translation.

1. Table of Contents
A correctly set up table of contents will be automatically recreated in the translated version, potentially saving hours of costly and manual post-translation formatting work. Keep this in mind, your goal is to minimize the need for desktop publishing. Please note, that languages grow and/or shrink as they are translated.

2. Non-editable elements
Do you have headings in your file? Are these editable text, or converted to outline text (stylized)? A common detail of design agency-created content is outline text headings, which need to be manually recreated in order to edit the text. It is advisable to avoid using outline text unless your goal is to prevent the text from being edited.

The 'f.y.i.' and company logo graphics are examples of non-editable elements
You can used outline text effectively for any content which should not be localized, such as product names, company divisions or industry-specific regulation names.

3. Graphics

Text in graphics is another common feature in many types of documents. Whenever possible, avoid the use of text in graphics and choose editable keys instead. Again this is because translated text grows and/or shrinks. If your graphic does fit the new translation, your layout and graphic could appear skewed. This includes numbers in the image, and text under graphics.

Also, plan for what you don’t want to translate, as well as what you do. Placing all non-translatable content in a separate InDesign layer, for example, ensures that requirements are clear and saves on manual preparation time. Your InDesign layer, the one with non-translatable content, can simply be hidden. With your content hidden, the translation team will focus on everything else, text, layout, and formatting.

Our translation team fields best practice questions regularly, we are happy to answer any of yours, feel free to give us a call.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Translated Languages Grow and Shrink

One of the dynamics in translating languages is the increase or decrease in word counts, which can increase or decrease pagination.  So, what is word count?  Word count is the total number of words counted in a particular piece of content needing translation. Let's use this phrase as an example of word count, "Make content development accessible to all team members" has a total of 8 words. Now let's translate the same phrase into Spanish "Haga que el desarrollo del contenido sea accesible para todos los miembros del equipo". Whoa, that's quite a bit more words then the original. Let's review the Chinese translation, "讓團隊的所有成員都能參與內容開發". Well, that certainly makes a difference in word count, too. 

The increase or decrease in word count affects the layout of content, which can affect the contents pagination. So what is pagination? Pagination is the process of dividing (content) into pages, either electronic pages or printed pages. Meaning after your company’s manual has been translated into Spanish or Chinese, the page count and format may not maintain the same pagination as the original English version. Due to each languages' word count, your company’s manual may need reformatting to ensure the same information is displayed and maintained in a similar format when compared to the English version.  An example of a typical page(s) that frequently requires reformatting following the contents translation is the table of contents.  The table of contents may need updating and often times reformatting due to the increase or decrease in page counts of your newly translated content. 

Most language companies quote translation projects based around 2 variables, word count and formatting.

TL; DR: Translations cause content to grow or shrink in size due to the nature of languages. This, in turn, requires content to be reformatted for layout, readability, and continuity.

Visit us at and learn how your content will increase or decrease in any target language. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Top Interpretation and Translation Language Provider In North America

At CTS LanguageLink we believe in and support the saying, “Managers are appointed and leaders emerge.” This mentality led us into the top 10 of Language Service Providers in North America. A 2013 Common Sense Advisory (CSA) report ranks us 8th out of the 30 largest translation and interpreting suppliers in North America. CSA is an independent, Massachusetts-based, globalization industry research company.

We’re thrilled to be included in this report. We are working hard in scaling our interpretation platform and cultivating our list of linguists,” says Kimila Johnson, VP of Sales and Marketing.

Our Translation and Interpretation divisions continue to experience growth year over year. Our Washington Health Care Authority (HCA) contract needs are evolving, pushing and optimizing our back-end system. This is great news for all of our customers. Our Client Portal displays customer metrics and activities that no other Interpretation and Translation company can provide. We are seeing an organic increase in demand for localization in all types of markets, in community organizations, in video-game development, and for board games. Meaning, the world is shrinking every day. Our own Interpretation and Translation usage metrics mirror industry trends. These trends show strong and steady growth, as language needs continue to rise both for the domestic market and globally.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Top Five Questions For Your Localization Vendor

It's better to localize your software/app during development vs after development. Because during development you can include extra line breaks, space, and other engineering buffering in preparation of your vendor's localization actions and requirements. 

Fortunately, you can apply the same questions and follow up in post-development. It is important to note that localization in post development takes a bit more planning and review. That does not mean it is not worth your investment, actually it is quite the opposite. Localizing your app/software can help you make a sale or teach a skill to an entirely new user base.

We like to encourage proper planning because it makes the localization process smoother if it occurs during your development. Now it's time to ask your localization vendor the hard questions:

1. Do they have experience in working with software and apps?
If yes, do they have any examples and references to share with you? We know print and software are worlds apart; typically print is served in a single format which a vendor can plan for. However, software and apps are served across multiple platforms and browsers which can lead to a multitude of issues. 

2. Has your potential vendor localized anything similar to your software/app? 
Again just because a vendor has "localized" an XML document does not mean they understand and/or are ready for a project like that of a roleplaying game on the Android or iOS platform. Get a couple quotes - shop around, comparison shopping empowers you and will assist you in whom to proceed with and whom to ask follow up questions to.  Such as, how long it will take, why does your process take longer compared to other potential vendors?

From our perspective as localization specialists, we believe providing quality engineering in a reasonable timeline should be one in the same, instead of settling for just one of these two features.

3. What are the vendor's QA (Quality Assurance) processes?
We have a very extensive QA process. We are personally huge sticklers when it comes to QA-ing a client's project. One of the necessary tools for our QA process is a sandbox environment. A sandbox is a testing environment that isolates untested code changes and outright experimentation from the production environment or repository. Does your vendor provide a sandbox environment? 

Localization experts review and test the app/software for proper localization flow, line breaks, and a whole host of additional details.  Our linguists localize content in 2 places. The first, in an isolated environment, giving the linguist the ability to read and localize copy by itself. The second place is the software's Sandbox environment where they review the content once it has been placed. These necessary steps ensure your content has proper flow and its context is maintained. Be aware that quality comes at a cost beyond price.

4. Does your vendor have processes in place for your upgrades and Add-ons?
Such as text updates/changes, new or additional images. Will the updates be done by the vendor or by you the developer/user.

5. What are the vendor’s rates for updates and changes to text? 
Sometimes you're not the Project Manager but you are handed the project, will your vendor provide training on how to make changes and updates?

Proper localization engineering is important because it directly impacts your users and their experience with your product which can have long term implications. Localizing your app/software can be a large task, but these initial vendor questions you will have off on the right foot.