- THE MAGAZINE
Flying cars? Nope. Robot maids? Sorry, not yet.
The future that was promised to us so long ago in “The Jetsons” may not be materializing as fast as we may have hoped, but actual progress can be almost as exhilarating.
The most recent example happened when TELUS International teamed up with Ortsbo on a Customer Care Initiative and Partnership Program. Sound mundane? It isn’t.
Using Ortsbo, TELUS customer service agents will be able to chat in real time over the internet to almost anyone in their native tongue. That’s right: agents type in their native language and, instantly, customers receive a response in their own language.
It’s technology that would make George Jetson jealous.
Ortsbo only pioneered its real time chat in 2009, but any thoughts of a prolonged beta-test are over. CEO David Lucatch says the software solution is ready for prime time. “Ortsbo has gone head to head against native speaking agents in live customer care environments and the results were quite amazing,” he says. “Survey scores by end users actually rated Ortsbo as very good and even better than the experience provided by native speaking agents.”
Lucatch says the software, which can “speak” in 66 languages, levels the playing field for customer service reps, who can now work from wherever they want. Additionally, it offers immediate cost savings to companies, who typically pay a premium for multi-lingual agents.
Michael Ringman, CIO at TELUS International, says the solution puts the company on the leading edge of the race to deliver top-notch customer service.
“The ability to support multi-language client needs from locations that could traditionally only support one or two languages is a game changer for us,” he says. “...we are pleased to be moving forward with our first live client program using the Ortsbo technology platform.”
New data suggests that Ortsbo, which is a subsidiary of Toronto Venture exchange-listed Intertainment Media, may be hitting a sweet spot at exactly the right time.
A recent survey conducted by global research firm Echo Research for client American Express revealed that two-thirds of customers said they would spend more with a company they believe provides excellent customer service. And three out of four says they have spent more with a company because of “a history of positive customer service experiences.”
Another report, from the U.K.-based Institute for Customer Service (ICS) illustrates a clear link between customer satisfaction and business performance. The 2012 study showed that company with the best customer satisfaction rating, Amazon, also achieved the strongest sales growth.
Until now, Intertainment Media has rolled out Ortsbo in a methodical manner, but the adoption of the product has always run well ahead of the company’s seemingly humble intentions. The software, in fact, may be the best kept secret in all the world of tech, having already lured a whopping 212 million unique users in over 170 countries and territories, and attracting heavyweight partners such as Indy Car, Variety, Brooklyn’s new state-of-the-art Barclays Center and Kiss’s Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, who conducted a worldwide global chat with fans using Ortsbo.
Lucatch says breaking down language barriers isn’t just for rock fans, it is vital for businesses that operate in a world that is increasingly global.
“It’s not just about the technology; it’s about enabling people — both agents and customers with an innovative way to remove the language barrier,” he says. “That’s why we value our strategic partnership with TELUS International. They understand the value of customer experience and the deeper, cost-effective capabilities this will deliver to their global contact center clients.”
The history of machine translation dates back to the 1950s, when the famed Georgetown-IBM experiment translated sentences from Russian into English in real time. Researchers working on that project felt it would be just a few years before the technology became ubiquitous, but a working solution to real time voice translation proved much more difficult to realize.
Today, web-based services such as Google Translate and BabelFish provide a reliable, if static, sneak-peek into the world of instantaneous translation. But both services still feel somewhat stilted and toilsome, especially on a mobile device.
With Ortsbo, TELUS becomes an early adopter in a major technology movement that has taken the better part of sixty years to unfold.
Ortsbo, which is Swedish for “local”, may soon have TELUS customers across Canada asking “Que vont-ils penser de la prochaine?” (French) or “Ano ang mga ito sa tingin ng susunod” (Filipino), or even “Cosa penseranno di prossima” (Italian).
Translated, that means “What will they think of next?”