How is your interpreter scheduling system working for you? If you find that your organization is plagued by missed appointments, communication overload, or general scheduling confusion, you’re not alone.
Scheduling is a tough task for any organization or busy individual. It can be even harder when your schedule includes keeping track of service providers you need often but don’t hire into your company. The good news is that with the right approach, you can accomplish all your interpreter scheduling tasks efficiently and effectively.
Interpreter Scheduling Challenges
Any organization that uses interpreters, whether it’s a hospital, court, or private business, has its own unique challenges. One of the greatest challenges is getting the interpreters you need when and where you need them without a hitch. That big challenge can be divided up into several scheduling functions.
Calendars are extremely useful for tracking interpreter appointments. The problem is that everyone involved has to have the same information on their calendars. Miscommunication or simple human error in marking down the service date can cause interpreters to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. That can result in court delays, added costs, or patients struggling to make life-or-death decisions without adequate information.
Keeping Track of Interpreter Availability
The need for interpreters has grown tremendously in recent years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18% more interpreters and translators will be needed in the next 10 years. Since interpretation services often depend on individuals who set their own schedules, one of the greatest challenges is to find an interpreter who can be there when the customer needs them.
Managing Customers’ Requests
Interpreters have scheduling challenges of their own. They need to be able to get the service requests from their customers. For both individual interpreters and companies that offer interpretation services, it’s crucial to have all the details needed to do the job correctly.
Connecting with Busy Interpreters
Interpreters are typically very busy people. They must travel from one job to another, often taking on several jobs in one day. What’s more, they’re unavailable for communications during the times they’re interpreting. You need to be able to connect with them even when they’re at their busiest.
Dealing with Missed Events
Even if the organization and the interpreter have the same information, so many circumstances can cause either one to miss important events, including anything from submitting timesheets to the job itself. Missed events may not be preventable in cases like sudden illnesses or car wrecks. Most often, though, people miss appointments because they don’t have time to check their calendar or they simply forget. Once the time for the appointment has passed, the organization has more work to do to reschedule the activity they needed the interpreter for as well as the interpreter services.
Why Common Solutions to Scheduling Interpreters Don’t Work
The days of writing down appointments with pencil and paper are nearly over, although some people still do things that way. With the advent of computer technology, though, a wide variety of solutions has been presented for dealing with scheduling issues. Each solution may or may not do what it does adequately. Yet, each solution is just one small piece of the scheduling pie. Somehow, they haven’t come together to solve all the problems inherent in scheduling for interpreter work.
Doing Scheduling Tasks Individually
Organizations use legacy phone systems, automated reminder calls, mobile phones, spreadsheets, email, Outlook, or all of those. Many of these solutions are helpful for the task they were designed to do but not so helpful in coordinating all the scheduling tasks together.
Using so many different systems for scheduling tasks can be daunting. Imagine using all these different solutions to schedule one appointment with an interpreter:
You open Excel to check your spreadsheet for an interpreter for the language you need, who works during the right hours and days. You open Outlook to find out their contact information. Then, you use your phone to call them to find out if they’re available for you. Now, you have to open a calendar to mark down their name and appointment time. Finally, you open another program to set up a reminder call. It’s an exhausting and inefficient process, to say the least!
Talking and Emailing to Communicate Needs
Communications are vital to any organization, but particularly so for interpreters and the organizations that use them. Sometimes having a phone conversation is the only way to work out important details of a job. The problem with talking on the phone is that it can take a lot of time to connect and speak with each interpreter or customer. Besides, a phone conversation isn’t always necessary.
Enter email. Now, you don’t have to talk in real time. You can send a message quickly, and they can get it at their leisure. The problem here is that their leisure might be long after you need to relay your message. They may only check their email once or twice a day. That’s not helpful if you need to make a request for someone to interpret right away. Your interpreter needs an easy way to manage their schedule, even when they’re on the go.
Trying to Avoid Missed Appointments
The most common way of preventing missed appointments is sending a confirmation email after the appointment has been made. That’s great but the interpreter still has to remember to mark it on their calendar and check that calendar constantly to make sure they don’t miss any appointments. Automated calls aren’t much better, because the interpreter might not be available to take the call when it comes in. What would work better is a solution that gets the notification through promptly without disturbing the interpreter while they’re working.
Is There a Better Approach?
A better approach to interpreter scheduling is to have all the scheduling tasks on one platform. When everything can be handled together as a seamless process, the organization can run more smoothly, and the interpreters can do their jobs. This better solution would include:
- A centralized calendar
- A system for finding out about interpreter availability
- A way to make requests for interpreter services more efficiently
- Automatic notifications for confirmations and reminders
- A mobile app for interpreters
Fortunately, this better approach already exists. Your organization can eliminate all the inefficiencies of individual solutions by using a platform that combines them all in one package. If you’d like to learn more about how to improve your interpreter schedule management, contact Interpreter Intelligence for all the details.