Virtually everything in our lives has gotten more expensive over the years such as housing, cars, postage stamps, food and energy and yet telecommunications and broadband service costs continue to plummet. This state of affairs is in-part due to Moore’s Law and a side benefit of the declining connectivity costs has been bringing the world closer together. In the nineties you could bankrupt yourself quite easily if you direct-dialed from one country to another yet today IP communications has lowered the price of such calls to zero or a few pennies a minute depending on your location and device.
In 1982 a company called LanguageLine Solutions was founded to focus on helping translate conversations via telephone and since then, the company has grown to 6,000 interpreters who speak 98.6% of the 6,809 languages spoken in the world today. In this same year, TMC launched a magazine focusing on the call center market (now called Customer) and wrote about this company frequently in the subsequent decades.
I recently caught up with LanguageLine representative Linda Treffry who walked me through many of the new services the company offers such as Language Line University which measures the proficiency of multilingual agents. LanguageLine Direct Response is a service which allows your customer who speaks limited English to hear your message when they call in. From there, they first speak with an interpreter who greets them and then changes from being the greeter to an interpreter again. The company also offers a localization and translation service which helps companies keep their websites and documents accurate in other other countries and languages.
Perhaps the most exciting service is Language UC which is a video chat solution which runs on Macs, PCs and tablets. I had a chance to see a demonstration of sign language via an iPad and it was quite fascinating. What I learned was the sign for coffee which is an arm churning looks more to me like butter. But I digress. With this service you could be a traveling salesperson who could go to any country and communicate effectively in meetings by connecting to LanguageLine UC as needed.
Some of the benefits of LanguageLine’s services are you don’t have to hire full-time people on staff and can instead pay as you go. It is worth noting the video service has a license fee as well.
There aren’t too many companies still focusing on the same core business for over 30 years but LanguageLine is certainly one of them. With their new app/video service, they have certainly elevated their offerings and brought themselves current with the times and made their solutions something the mainstream market can use. You might even say the company is now a bit ahead of the times.