Universal translator Featured

9:51am EDT July 22, 2002

You’ve just found a client that would be perfect for your product. The only drawback is, the client is in Brazil and only speaks Portuguese. Where are going to find an interpreter? The local university? Maybe.

A more convenient option may be Cyracom’s interpretation services. With a single phone call, you have access to a network of more than 5,000 interpreters who provide services in more than 120 languages, 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

Hospitals are using the service to translate doctor instructions to patients, even during events such as child birth, and some companies have used it on the floor of trade shows to talk to international prospects.

If you use interpreters on a regular basis, you can even purchase a special phone that has two handsets — one for you and one for your international client —to connect to the interpreter.

Prices start at $100 to activate an account, with charges of less than $3 per minute depending on language and usage patterns.

These types of services are available because of the advancements in technology that allow small companies such as Cyracom to eliminate a lot of the costs involved. Traditionally, translation companies had to rely on expensive operator-based service bureaus to take calls and match them with interpreters, many of whom work from home, and keep track of billable hours. A caller interested in an interpreter would hold, sometimes for extended periods, as the human operator checked to see who was available in a particular language.

Cyracom teamed with Selectron, a telecommunications company that helped it design and construct an Interactive Voice Response system that would automate these functions. The end result is a system that eliminates operators, and allows callers to activate an account and enter a language code to select the service they need. The computer then checks the network of interpreters to find out who is available, and automatically connects to the customer. In case of problems, a person can connect to an operator for assistance, but the system isn’t as labor intensive.

“The system has the same functionality as a live operator, it just does it more cost effectively,” says David Fay, vice president of IVR Services at Selectron. “It’s a natural evolution. If we can get the live operator cost out of the equation, the service is much cheaper. More organizations are taking advantage of this technology.”

Companies have been using some forms of IVR for some time, but with costs decreasing, it’s getting more within the reach of smaller firms. Customers can use IVR systems to check on the status of orders without the need for human assistance, or employees can use it to check payroll information .

“There’s a wide range of business applications available with IVR, what made Cyracom different was we added in the conferencing function,” says Fay. “It gives your customers 24 hour, seven day capabilities to get the information they need.”

How to reach: Cyracom, (800) 713-4950, www.kevmark.com; Selectron, www.selectron.com

Todd Shryock (tshryock@sbnnet.com) is SBN’s special reports editor.