Changing language service providers

The bad news is your language service provider isn’t right for you anymore.

Now the good news: You have an opportunity to start fresh with a new provider. And, if you do it right, you can make the switch seamlessly, without impacting the individuals you serve or inconveniencing your staff. Before making the switch, here are five steps you should take to ensure you select and transition to the right provider.

1. Explore the Solutions and Services

When it comes to choosing language service providers, there are seemingly endless options and many factors to consider. Price is important, for instance, but a simple quote isn’t always the best indicator of service. Quality, technology and support are other key factors. Delineate your language needs and issues so the LSP can let you know how they can help your organization address them. For example, do you struggle to provide easy access to your organization’s services to limited English proficient individuals? Ask language service providers if they have a way to provide direct access to your organization through a user-friendly format, such as a mobile app. Do you struggle to get the message to your organization on how to access language services? Ask language service providers if they can assist with staff communication and training.  

2. Understand Quality Measures

The quality of service your LSP provides will have a direct impact on your organization’s image, so it will be important to have a thorough understanding of the quality measures the LSP has in place for their systems and staff. Ask questions about quality measures, such as:

  • The type of platforms they use to manage and route calls
  • What systems they use to collect data and how the data is kept secure
  • What is their process for hiring and training interpreters
  • How they monitor quality
  • How they address complaints or concerns
  • A reputable language service provider should be able  to provide evidence of these quality measures, such as interpreter training records and records of compliance audits that demonstrate information security.

3. Understand Compliance Measures

If you are in a highly regulated industry like health care, government, or financial services, you already know the company you choose must be able to support you in meeting strict legal requirements. Failing to do so could damage your relationship with those you serve and may even lead to fines or lawsuits. That’s why it’s important to understand the compliance measures your language service provider has in place before you make the decision. Make a list of all the legal requirements that govern your industry so you can ensure the provider you choose meets these standards. In healthcare for example, if your new provider offers video remote interpreting, does the video quality comply with Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act? Is the audio clear and free of delays? Is the connection meeting the security requirements to ensure compliance with HIPAA? Is the video interpreter qualified? By the same token, are your important documents translated by qualified translators?

Your new provider should be well-versed in the regulations for your industry and be able to share proof of compliance with any applicable laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulations, HIPAA, and others.  Providers should also be able to demonstrate the language qualifications of their interpreters by sharing their testing and training records.

4. Assess the Technology

Technological capabilities are a critical factor to consider when choosing a language service provider.  For instance, call routing technology will determine how quickly your staff is able to connect with an interpreter, for instance, and how secure that connection is. Be sure to outline your security requirements and how you want your staff to access services.  For example, if you are in a government office and you want staff to directly send their request for translation to your language service provider, you need to be sure they have a secure platform to support these requests.

5. Determine Level of Support Offered

The last key factor in choosing a language service provider is the level of support they can provide, not only for the initial transition but also going forward. It’s important that all staff learn about the transition, understand how to access the services and receive ongoing training and support. It’s also important to assess which tools and equipment your organization needs to access the services. A good language service provider should be able to conduct an assessment and provide you with recommendations. They should be able to provide implementation support and assistance long after you’ve made the transition.

If you’ve chosen the right language service provider, they will be a true partner invested in your success for years to come. They’ll show it by working with you to assess your needs and offer recommendations and ongoing support.

Switching language service providers can seem intimidating at first, but don’t let fear of the unknown keep you stuck in a relationship that isn’t working. Check out this helpful guide to selecting a language service provider for evaluation criteria, questions and more.

Lulu Sanchez is the director of implementation for LanguageLine Solutions.

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