In an industry like ours, the soldiers on the frontline are the interpreters. They are the most important face of our customer service and, even if most of them are independent contractors, we expect them to excel while flying our colors. And to excel not only as interpreters, for they happen to also personify the service itself, but also as problem solvers and real customer service representatives; for that is what they do many times over when a problem arises in the field.
In interpreting, the first person the client turns to when something is not right is the interpreter himself/herself. In this respect, we are not any different than other industries, where the frontlines are also filled with professionals performing their assignments at the same time they solve problems and address doubts on the spot to the full satisfaction of their company’s clients.
Yes, there will come a time when the problem or doubt or question by far exceeds the capabilities of the soldiers and someone higher in the chain of command must resolve them – and that is also customer service – but to me, as a client, it’s as simple as this: if the soldier can’t solve my problem and I have to call it in, there better be at least a sergeant major on the other side of that line. And since I am making the call and know the problem source, I may or may not expect to be redirected even higher, depending on the complexity of the issue at hand. But that is fodder for another post.
Today’s point is, when one of our clients looks at one of our interpreters and he introduces himself/herself, the interpreter becomes the company he represents and should perform well above and beyond his role as the link between two parties speaking different idioms. In many ways he/she is also the link between the company he/she represents and the client. And that is where customer service starts… and, in all honesty, where it should stop.