The battle between humans and artificial intelligence has been portrayed as pitched warfare in the media—an “either/or” battle for which there can be only one victor.
The reality is much more nuanced when it comes to interpretation and translation. If we were asked to predict who the winner will be between man and machine when it comes to language services, we would answer, “Both.”
We do not have our heads buried on this topic, nor are we running in fear. The truth is that we see machine learning augmenting—but not replacing—human linguists. In fact, we project that artificial intelligence will make live interpreters more valuable, not less.
LanguageLine sees a future in which machine interpretation and translation is perfectly acceptable for routine tasks; for example, registration at the doctor’s office. But as the undertaking becomes more complex—for example, the rendering of a diagnosis—the need for and desire to have a human interpreter will increase, as well.
We see this same logic applied to the financial industry in this article about how banking complaints in the United Kingdom are at a five-year high. This trend coincides with the closure of bank branches in favor of online, mobile, and telephone banking.
Aditya Arora, managing director of the International Business Unit at Teleperformance Digital Integrated Business Services, told The Herald that customers continue to need human contact, despite the increase in software robots being used to handle phone queues: “Traditional banks are increasingly depending solely on automated responses by chatbots to solve customer problems … however, there are times when customers need something beyond an automated helpline. That is when a human empowered with unique sentiments is able to sort out a complex situation, leading to increased customer satisfaction."
All of us take our finances seriously (or at least we should). If the absence of human interaction with a bank, lender, or other financial institution is frustrating for English speakers, imagine how pronounced this feeling must be when there is a language barrier. It’s no surprise that so many foreign-born people living in North America have faltering financial health. According to the FDIC, 51 percent of this population is unbanked or underbanked.
One in five of our North American neighbors speaks a language other than English at home. One in nine U.S. residents is considered limited-English proficient—that’s 25 million people. A failure to embrace this group leaves a massive audience with its collective nose pressed up against the window of your business, with no means of entry. Considering that the forecast for America is “majority minority,” any financial institution aspiring to be a “bank of the future” may want to consider ways to incorporate language access, with human interpreters playing an increased role as complexity escalates.
LanguageLine Can Help
LanguageLine is proud to serve as a language access partner to eight of the continent’s top 10 commercial banks.
Our new e-book, The Future of Finance: Banking on the Massive Potential of Multicultural Consumers, explains the imperative that banks adapt to offer multilingual customer support. It details the barriers multicultural consumers often face when seeking banking and financial services and explains the ways in which banks and lenders can welcome and retain more of these consumers.