Top 10 Things to Know about Over-the-Phone Interpreting

Over the Phone Interpretation

During the pandemic, as social distancing became the norm, there was a drastic increase in the popularity of over-the-phone interpreting (OPI). Facilitating easy access to multiple languages without face-to-face interactions, telephone interpreting is the perfect solution for situations where in-person interpretation is not possible.

Although OPI lacks the visual support present in in-person interpreting, it does have many advantages. With over-the-phone interpreting, you can overcome language barriers and ensure that business communications are as effective as possible across various international locations.

In this post, we take a look at 10 things everyone should know about OPI!

Over-the-Phone Interpreting Facts

1. OPI is not as Accurate as In-Person Interpreting

This is arguably the most important thing to remember about telephone interpreting. But it has nothing to do with the actual interpretation of spoken communication. It’s about the language you can’t see during an OPI session. Body language! Body language actually plays a very important role in communication, and without being able to see the conversation, there’s no way the interpreter can pick up on subtle gestures that might be expressed in a stance of facial expression. This is why many linguists argue that OPI is less accurate than in-person interpreting.

2. Telephone Interpreting Can be Used in Any Industry

Businesses can manage multinational teams much more effectively with the help of over-the-phone interpreting services. OPI is also a highly effective tool for customer service functions that can help maintain “business as usual” regardless of what languages your customers speak or where in the world they are based.

3. OPI Saves Thousands of Lives in the Healthcare Sector

Telephone interpreters often work with professionals in the medical field to deliver interpreting services for doctors and their patients. This service helps streamline doctor-patient communication and helps alleviate some of the pressure that the system regularly faces. OPI is available anywhere in the world, which means doctors don’t have to wait for an interpreter to show up to ensure the patient has a clear understanding of their medical condition or treatment options.

4. It’s Cost-Effective

Compared to VRI and in-person interpreting, over-the-phone interpreting is the most affordable interpreting option when it comes to breaking the language barrier. Since there is no need for an interpreter to travel to and from the site, there’s no charge for traveling fees. Interpreters can also help more people daily since they can work from anywhere in the world.

5. Telephonic Interpreting is Available 24/7

Many language services providers that offer OPI services facilitate these services 24/7, thanks to their global teams of remote interpreters. This ensures that their clients can gain instant access to an interpreter when and where they need it most. Unlike in-person interpreting, which must be scheduled well in advance, OPI is an on-demand language solution.

6. You Don’t Need Advanced Tech to Set Up OPI

Let’s suppose you want to have an interpreter present at your business conference. For that to happen, you’d need to have the proper infrastructure in place to ensure the interpreter can do their job. However, with OPI, you just need a phone line. If, for example, you need to use phone interpreter services in your customer service department, your language services provider can help you get set up with the right equipment to help you save money and time as well as improve the quality of the connection.

7. Over-the-Phone Interpreting Can be Used for Any Language

A benefit of OPI is that it provides access to languages that are much less commonly spoken. This can be the difference between good and great service when you’ve got a customer that speaks a language like Xhosa, for which many organizations don’t generally have on-hand interpreters.

8. You Can Easily Gain Access to Professional Interpreters and Translation Services

Translation services providers do not employ interpreters without vetting their qualifications and experience, which means you always gain access to qualified and professional interpreters when you use OPI. Telephone interpreters are also tested and trained in many different fields of expertise, and you will always be assigned to a linguist that specializes in your field, whether it is insurance, legal, or medical.

9. There’s no Geographical Limitation at Play with Telephone Interpretation Services

Regardless of where in the world you live, you can connect to an interpreter over the phone when you work with a language service provider. This is just another way technology enables us to stay connected irrespective of geographical location. OPI is beneficial for closing international deals over the phone and it is perfect for ensuring healthcare professionals can connect with patients in underdeveloped countries and rural areas.

10. OPI is a Way to Gain Access to Confidential and Impartial Language Services

Sometimes a situation might arise that can be embarrassing, such as a medical exam or police interrogation. And in cases like these, a remote telephone interpreter can act as the communication link without being viewed as an intruder. In a medical examination, for example, the gender of the interpreter and the patient might be an issue for on-site interpreting, but it matters far less when the interpreter is not physically present.

Wrapping Up

Over-the-phone interpreting has changed and evolved a lot over the years, and today, it’s one of the most practical interpreting solutions in the world. Now that you know more about its benefits and how effectively it can be used to overcome language barriers, perhaps you might want to consider using this method of interpretation within your own business.


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