Telephone vs. face-to-face interpreting: which is the right choice for your business?

Companies engaging internationally need a variety of tools at their disposal to overcome the language barrier. Luckily, Alexika is adding telephone interpreting to its portfolio of services.

We’ve got some useful information to help you decide whether telephone interpreting is your key to the foreign language chest of riches. When is it more appropriate than face-to-face interpreting, what are the benefits of each, and what do I need to get started?

It’s perfect for smaller interpretation needs.

By taking advantage of phone interpretation, you save the cost and time associated with hiring a face-to-face interpreter. This makes it ideal for smaller business meetings or appointments, but also for short business or information exchange.

With telephone interpreting, you only pay for the minutes you use - doing away with the minimum interpreting time often demanded from face-to-face interpreters. If you don’t need the interpreter’s services for a lengthy period, opting for the telephone allows you to avoid incurring additional expenses. Again, perfect for those smaller-scale needs - appointments, information exchange or customer support queries.


But you’re breaking up!

A face-to-face interpreter guarantees the highest level of accuracy and comprehension between both parties. Facial expressions and body language are sacrificed over a phone call; bad audio quality can also sometimes compromise a message. In many instances, a slight bit of fuzziness isn’t a problem, but if the information being communicated needs to be accurate, face-to-face interpretation will always give you the best chance of nothing being lost in translation.

Face-to-face interpreting will always have an irreplaceable role.

For important business meetings and conferences, it’s well worth your time investing in a face-to-face interpreter. Sometimes there’s no replacement for having someone in the flesh to facilitate the communication between all parties. An in-person interpreter can build relationships between both clients and can pick up facial and body language and confusion - crucial for making both parties more comfortable, ensuring they are on the same wavelength.

Face-to-face is more personable, and the lack of a visual channel can sometimes make telephone interpreting inappropriate, or simply an unwise business decision. Some situations, such as having to build rapport, share good or bad news, or personally sensitive information, are more suited to a face-to-face interpretation.


Everything considered, telephone interpreting sounds great! How to do I get started?

What kind of special technology am I going to be burdened with purchasing, you may ask? The answer - most of the time, nothing out of the ordinary; telephone interpreting between two people in the same location works with just a standard phone with a loudspeaker. A two-way connection with an interpreter allows the process to go ahead.

If two parties require interpretation and want to talk over the phone, you’ll need your own conference enabled telephone system. A reputable language service partner will be able to give detailed instructions here, using its technology to provide a simultaneous interpreting service on all well-known meeting and presenting platforms. This highly sophisticated technology allows savings to be passed on to customers.

So, which one is most appropriate for me - face-to-face or telephone?

The telephone will never replace face-to-face interpretation - both should be considered crucial tools - but it’s about knowing which is the most suitable for a certain purpose. If you’re hoping to secure a new business deal, face-to-face interpreting will allow you to have the best chance of building that rapport between two parties who don’t share a common language. If your needs are more urgent and smaller-scale, telephone interpreting will save you time and a lot of money.

Alexika offers telephone and face-to-face interpretation between English and a huge range of business languages. Get in touch to see how we could help you dial up international business success.