During the recent pandemic and its associated restrictions, businesses all over the world have been forced to rethink the way they operate. For LanguageLoop, Australia’s leading language service provider of interpreting and translation services, COVID-19 has affected their company in a variety of different ways; from reduced revenue in their main service stream, to creation of new services, to keeping their own staff and all 3,000+ of their remote workforce of interpreters and translators positive and engaged.
Although they have experienced revenue challenges, the company has still managed to maintain a strong cash flow position by diversifying and turning their focus to other areas. We spoke to CEO, Elizabeth Compton, and asked her to share her insights and strategies on how LanguageLoop has continued to thrive and grow during this unprecedented time.
Transitioning your service channels
Throughout the pandemic, LanguageLoop’s strategy has been to actively engage with their clients, reaching out through multiple channels, not only informing clients they were open and operating as normal, but highlighting alternative services for clients to utillise during this period.
“We’ve been working with clients to drive use of digital channels. There’s been a lot of resistance over the years to using digital solutions, even though technology such as video conferencing is very well established. COVID has dramatically accelerated digital take up, which has actually meant we’ve been able to grow a part of the business we’ve been pushing for a long time. For example, VideoLoop, our video interpreting solution, has made up for significant reductions in traditional on-site interpreting services. In health settings, practitioners and Doctors have been slow to use video technology but now we have the window to drive this service. It is more efficient, with good patient outcomes and rapid take-up will accelerate further innovation in this space, allowing non-English speaking patients to receive excellent care remotely.”
“Further, in the corporate space, we are seeing clients in financial services, insurance and utilities more interested now in self-service digital options, such as multilingual live chat, chatbots, translated web content and other integrated services to lower cost-to-serve, but still provide a great service to customers where English is their second language.”
Engaging staff during a crisis
In addition to operational changes, LanguageLoop has also made a concentrated effort to keep staff feeling valued and engaged. Recognising that this has been a time of high stress, Ms Compton has been reaching out to staff to ensure they are aware of the importance of the role they are playing.
“Since March, we’ve made great strides in engaging staff to keep motivation and engagement levels as high as possible. All managers have regular check-ins with their teams and we’ve also held bi-weekly all-staff video ‘town halls’. We’ve sent handwritten cards, had various Whatsapp groups, wellness and movement sessions and remote drinks and team activities. I’ve also called every single employee personally, to touch base to see how they’re going during lockdown. Interestingly we’re getting to know people better as we’re in each other’s home environments and meeting partners, children and much loved pets!
Three things all businesses leaders should remember
It is clear that LanguageLoop has taken great strides in ensuring the wellbeing of both their clients and employees, focusing on authentic and genuine interactions. This sense of compassion and humanity has been invaluable during a time of crisis, and has given the team the opportunity to innovate in other areas, knowing that all stakeholders are being taken care of.
“If I had to summarise the most crucial areas of business to focus on, I’d tell other leaders three things; firstly, do what you can to stabilise your business and make sure you’re still in business. It’s all about riding this wave and weathering the storm. So ensuring you’re going to make it through is a first priority. For us, that involved looking at every area of our business and where we needed to pivot, cut costs, focus our energy and where we needed to stop, keep, or accelerate, investment.’
“Secondly, although it may be tempting, don’t get caught up in the tailspin of the crisis. Instead, identify the opportunities and see what you can take advantage of during this period. For example, we undertook a major piece of research into the buying habits of multilingual consumers. This has given us something new to talk with our clients about and we can offer ideas, based on hard research, about ways they can drive revenue by better engaging with their multilingual customers. With the economic outlook looking quite bleak, leveraging language is one clear strategy businesses can use to drive revenue as a part of their post-COVID recovery strategy. The resulting Language Matters Whitepaper has given our clients the ammunition they needed to get all parts of their business on-board.
“And finally, think about how you can come out stronger than your competitors during this time. It’s different for every sector but now is the time to think strategically and drive harder to deliver innovation. For example, we critically thought about what projects we could bring forward to put us at a competitive advantage, so we have accelerated projects around data analytics and we have increased our IT development team to bring to market new products earlier than planned.
“It’s been a little scary accelerating deployment of capital during this period, as we don’t know how long this will last, but it seems to be working so far. Our aim is to use this time to get ahead of the pack, be front of mind for our customers, and be in a position to own the market on the other side of this. There’s been a lot of sleepless nights but we need to be comfortable with long term uncertainty and that’s something I’ve come to terms with. Being strategic and disciplined, methodical in our review of the business and moving ahead with clear goals, has helped us feel we are on the right track. I didn’t think I would say this at the beginning, but this crisis has actually made us a stronger team and business.”
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