In our previous article, we discussed why – in many situations – it pays to have a professional interpreter available to help you better serve LEP (limited English proficiency) people , as opposed to allowing a family member or bilingual staff assist.
But, does that mean that your own bilingual staff should never assist these customers?
Of course not. In fact, especially when the interaction is informal and/or the risk of misunderstandings is minimal, it makes a lot of sense to have bilingual staff available to help out quickly and efficiently. Your staff knows your business inside and out, and he or she is right there, able to make eye contact with the customer and quickly assist, especially in urgent situations.
However, you still have some things to consider:
- How confident are you that your staff can expertly interpret your customer’s needs and wants?
- How certain are you that your staff won’t make any errors due to language issues?
After all, unless you – and your entire management team – are also fluent in every language your staff speaks, it’s unlikely you can monitor and analyze them effectively on your own.
There is an inherent risk in allowing bilingual staff to interpret for LEP customers. It comes down to providing inaccurate or incomplete information, misleading them unintentionally, or even opening the door to a lawsuit down the road.
Many multilingual employees will state that they’re capable of interpreting, especially if there is a financial incentive for doing so. But just how proficient are they, really? Are they skilled enough to let them handle every needed customer interaction without oversight?
A testing program to determine multilingual proficiency
For over 30 years, LanguageLine Solutions has offered convenient professional language proficiency testing through our LanguageLine Academy.
The value in testing is fourfold:
- Determine how proficient your staff is in both English and the B language.
- Test their ability to effectively interpret in an oral proficiency interview format that becomes progressively more challenging as the test continues.
- Tests are personalized to specific industry vocabulary and concepts as needed (for medical, legal, and financial environments.)
- Results are rated by professional interpreters who are native speakers of the target language.
But what if the tests indicate your bilingual staff have improvements to make?
A training program to improve language proficiency
LanguageLine Academy also offers a language proficiency training program via traditional and online modules that include lessons and role-playing exercises to improve the skills of your bilingual staff.
Taking advantage of training helps improve the language skills of staff, enhances the level of service and satisfaction your customers can expect, and improves your staff’s overall job proficiency as well. They are able to advance their careers, better assist your customers, and feel better about the work they’re doing.
If you’d like to see your bilingual staff tested or trained to improve their language proficiency, dive deeper into the LanguageLine Academy options today.