Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Howard’s Inner Circle, No. 1: Polyglot Your Business Instantaneously

I bet most don’t know that everyone working in the pharmacy departments of the many CVS drugstores in New York City can understand Arabic, Armenian, Cantonese, French, German, Hindi, Hmong, Italian, Japanese, Khmer (Cambodian), Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.

Unfortunately because of not sufficiently publicizing this fact, my guess is that most current and potential CVS customers aren’t aware of this. The primary way they would know is by seeing an 8-1/2” X 11” laminated paper posted on the cubicles where prescription consultations are conducted.

That paper reads at the top “Interpretation Service Available.” Below that title are 20 boxes for each of the above languages each with a hand with a pointed finger directed at 20 different foreign languages translations of “Point to your language. An interpreter will be called.” The Web site for the company, LanguageLine Services, which CVS utilizes is www.languageline.com. At this site you can see the many more languages available for translation and that an interpretation can be purchased on an as-needed basis. There are many other companies (e.g.,TransPerfect, www.transperfect.com/) out there that offer similar services.

Think of the marketing and business development advantages in offering this type of interpretation service. I have already spoken to someone at Staples and a number of managing partners of New York City accounting firms of the obvious advantages. Can you imagine if contractors and do-it-yourselfers knew at their Home Depot or Lowe’s they could converse via a third party with the expert staff at these stores in their own languages? Not-for-profits can benefit too. Although many hospitals have interpreters on staff, there usually are a limited number of languages available. Think of how many more citizens could utilize government services if they could converse in their language with government officials.

Most importantly, offering and publicizing this type of service promotes community among the various cultures that are part and parcel and make up our nation. With globalization’s continuing increasing impact, it is an imperative to be able to communicate in as many languages as possible. The belief that one language should be supreme to the exclusion of others really makes little economic sense. Hopefully, the expanded availability of reasonably-priced translation services will mean more companies, not-for-profits, and governments will understand and recognize it pays for these entities and their employees to become instant polyglots.
© 2009

The above is from the first issue of my newsletter, Howard’s Inner Circle, which periodically appears on my blog, “Instigator” at http://howardwolosky.blogspot.com/. It may be reproduced in full if that fact is stated and Howard Wolosky is given credit as the author.

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