As a global whistleblowing service provider, we receive reports from all over the world.

Here at Expolink, our hotline operators speak a variety of languages. This often makes it easier for our operators to establish an immediate connection with the caller and build trust, leading to a more detailed report.

But with our services being made available to millions of people worldwide, speaking any one of more than 200 languages, it isn’t possible (or financially viable) to have a hotline operator fluent in each language 24/7.

That’s where in-call live translation comes in.

What is live translation?

Live translation introduces a third party (the translator) to the call.

At Expolink this works in one of two ways:

  1. Using their keypad, the caller selects their preferred reporting language. In most cases a translator will already be on the line when the hotline operator answers the call.
  2. The caller requests a translator when connected to our hotline operator.

The report is then made in the caller’s chosen language with the translator participating in the call.

Benefits of live translation

Live translation enables a dialogue to take place between the caller and the hotline operator in real time. This encourages a structured but natural conversation – an approach we believe generates more detailed reports for our clients.

Live translation also offers several other practical benefits, including:

  • Cost – Engaging with translators on a ‘pay as you go’ basis is more cost-effective than employing language specialists in-house. These savings mean clients can access our services at an affordable price.
  • Reliability – Live translation gives us a wider pool of native-speaking translators to choose from. We continually measure the performance of our translation partners to ensure callers experience a high-quality service.
  • Speed – Using translators means callers don’t have to wait for a multilingual operator to become available. We can usually connect to a translator within seconds for the most commonly-spoken languages.

Drawbacks of live translation

You might not hear other hotline providers tell you this, but live translation doesn’t always make for a great caller experience.

Put yourself in the shoes of the brave individual that has taken the decision to speak up, and has chosen to make that report by telephone.

Where a live translator is required, the caller might experience:

  • An initial delay, depending on the language required, while a translator is connected to the call.
  • An awkward dynamic in the conversation. Each statement made must be relayed by the translator to the hotline operator. Each question asked by the hotline operator must be translated for the caller.
  • A longer call. Calls involving live translation can last up to three times longer.
  • Misinterpretation of responses or questions. The hotline operator is entirely dependent on the translator’s interpretation of information and words used by the caller. As such there could be a risk of mistranslation which could degrade the overall quality of the hotline report.

Improving the live translation process

While the live translation process may have inherent drawbacks, we’ve implemented a number of measures to try and negate its negative effects and improve the experience for the caller.

Intelligent Call Routing

We use technology to speed up the time it takes to connect a translator on to the call.

Operator Training

A successful three-way conversation demands clarity and control. Our in-house operators receive regular training to keep their questions clear and brief, while carefully managing the structure of the report conversation.

Supplier Capability

We work closely with our carefully selected partners. We jointly monitor call metrics such as translation quality, connection time per language and overall connection time.

What are the alternatives to live translation?

Web Reporting

The most common alternative to telephone reporting is web reporting. This allows the reporter to make their report in their chosen language and in their own time.

Web reporting offers those who speak up the opportunity to report their concerns in their own language using a structured question set.

Multilingual Operators

This option is likely to provide the best caller experience, allowing the caller to report their concern in their own language.

While the Expolink hotline team includes multilingual operators, a truly multilingual service is difficult to fully resource without external translation support or enlisting multiple in-country service providers.

Intelligent Call Routing + Voice Messaging

Intelligent call routing allows the caller to choose their interpretation and reporting options upfront. It can also be used to play back information (such as legal disclosures) to the caller in their chosen language before the conversation begins. This approach can speed up the sourcing of a translator and reduce overall call time.

This option can be enhanced by adding a voice messaging option, enabling service users to report their concern by recording a message in their native or chosen language. It allows a high-quality translation to take place after the message has been recorded – often superior to a real-time translation.

The message is available in both English and the original language, making handling of the case in the country of origin much easier.

Mobile App

A reporting app that can be used on a smartphone offers convenience and security. It can also make it easier for those who have submitted a report to check back for feedback or track any updates, much like web reporting.

A mobile app is essential reporting channel for employees who either lack access to a computer or a reliable telephone connection.

Expolink’s Speaking Up app is currently available in English, with more languages to be added during 2017.

Reporting choice recognises the needs of the end user

In an ideal world, a fully resourced native language telephone reporting service would be offered. The enormous overhead associated with resourcing all languages might explain why such a service remains absent from the market.

Artificial intelligence, automated message prompting and machine learning will surely play a greater role in the disclosure and reporting process in the years ahead. But there’s undoubtedly some way to go before they can handle sensitive disclosure reports.

Until then, it remains essential that hotline service providers continue to offer the widest possible range of reporting options.

An unexpected wi-fi outage, low phone battery, a lack of privacy – each could affect the reporting channel chosen by a reporter on any given day. Each could also be the difference between an issue being reported, or someone remaining silent.

Alongside a full range of reporting channels, the use of smart technology is a must for any hotline service provider. This will improve the whistleblower’s experience when reporting their issue (particularly where foreign languages are concerned), and ultimately increase the chances of a report being submitted.

In-house operators, a rapport-building approach and the widest range of reporting channels.

Discover what else makes us different.