The following is a guest post by the Microsoft Translator Partner, Lionbridge Technologies, who developed GeoFluent as solution to address the challenge of real-time translation of user generated content leveraging the Microsoft Translator automatic translation service and customization capabilities of the Translator Hub.
It’s the middle of the night in China, and you are still at the office, working on a complex installation that needs to be up and running by the time the boss comes in the next day. There is no room for error, and the pressure is on.
All of the sudden, a server malfunctions, and you realize your big project has stalled, and progress has come to a halt. What do you do?
Your first lifeline is the vendor’s “Contact Us” button on their website. A chat window opens up immediately with customer support on the other end. An agent works through the issue with you online, and suddenly the project is back underway. You breathe a deep sigh of relief.
What you don’t know is that the customer support agent only speaks English and was seamlessly interacting with you, even though your native language is Chinese. The communication was so seamless you weren’t even aware that a language gap existed. Somehow, it just worked. What you did know, however, is that, had immediate assistance from customer support not been available, you would likely be looking for a new vendor for future business.
The lesson learned is simple. Today’s business demands that companies of all types need to be able to respond and support their global customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. That means that customer service personnel must be able to provide that support to customers regardless of their native language and time zone.
The challenge with that type of customer service and support is that neither native speakers or human translation are viable solution, both from a cost, response-time and scalability standpoint. Can machine translation solve this problem effectively?
As experts in translation and localization services, we at Lionbridge understood that while automatic translation provided the immediacy necessary to keep up with the translation demands of user-generated content, business clients demanded more. Translations had to at least be actionable and understandable even if they weren’t perfect.
The list of challenges that needed to be addressed to make automatic translation valid for these customer support scenarios were numerous. Some of the biggest hurdles included:
- Typos and Slang - With user-generated content, people tend to take shortcuts and write in a less formal and more conversational manner resulting in typos, slang, shorthand and industry-centric language. While this is common, it is problematic for translation systems to identify and fix appropriately.
- Chat Client - Each customer had a customized version of the chat client that implies any translation solution needed to integrate into their existing workflow and products.
- Global Search– Monolingual search in forum and community sites is much different than multilingual search from both a search criteria and results perspective. Finding an approach that is intuitive for the end user had to be a primary focus.
For this reason, we developed GeoFluent, a real-time automated translation solution designed to meet the needs of business clients in a scalable and cost effective manner. Building on Microsoft Translator as the underlying automatic translation service, GeoFluent provides an additional configuration layer that enables real-time conversations and content sharing with users who speak, read and write different languages. It is easily integrated into customer’s existing
chat and community applications.
We took these above mentioned challenges into account when developing GeoFluent. This SaaS-based application delivers the features that businesses require, including:
- Masking personally identifiable information during the translation process.
- Protecting company, brand and product names so that the right corporate image is delivered in any language.
- Building company glossaries and systems to provide preferred translations to accommodate corporate, industry and locale-specific terminology through use of the Translator Hub.
- Adding layers of linguistic processing to remove slang, typos, grammatical and punctuation errors from source material and provide support for regional variants of languages.
A successful machine translation experience must be seamless, actionable, and timely. GeoFluent makes this makes this possible for the demanding needs of customer service organizations to support a global customer base.
To learn more about how GeoFluent solutions are leveraging Microsoft Translator, go to:
By Greg Belkin
Director, Product Marketing