How to Know When to Hire a LangOps Team for Your Business

May 18, 2021

Today, nearly any organization can serve a global customer base. As businesses grow internationally, many consider their options when it comes to multilingual operations. For example, many companies go with outdated localization practices. It’s a popular option but does not quite meet because it focuses on translating and regionalizing software and websites piece by piece. Localization also tends to be siloed by department, tends to be difficult to scale, and doesn’t leverage the developments of artificial intelligence in the last decade.

Language Operations (LangOps) takes localization to the next level by connecting the dots between translation and its operationalization. A LangOps team uses both technology and language skills to unite departments so that a business can communicate with its audience and stakeholders no matter what language they speak. This is the best approach to modernizing localization and making multilingual operations much more manageable. Let’s cover a bit more about what LangOps is and how teams are structured.

When do you need to hire a LangOps team for your business?

LangOps is a cross-disciplinary function that helps global businesses communicate effectively with their customers and other stakeholders. With LangOps, language as a discipline is handled by a single team, which uses technology (such as AI and human-machine translation) to scale throughout the entire organization. A LangOps team would be responsible for providing both technical and linguistic support across teams — ensuring quality and consistency across the organization. 

In the last decade, many other operations functions have emerged, most of which use technology to collaborate across teams — from DevOps to marketing ops, to RevOps. Each of these roles uses technology to drive efficiency, scale faster, and leverage data to make decisions. LangOps is no different.

How do you know when your organization is ready to break language out of its departmental silos and evolve to a LangOps approach? Here are a few inflection points to look for.

You’ve expanded into new countries

In the past, expanding into a new country meant hiring a new team of native speakers. While that might still be the case for some roles, COVID-19 proved to many organizations that you can do business from anywhere in the world.

While language may have been a barrier to international growth in the past, a LangOps team would help make decisions around the people and technology needed to serve customers and build the business in these new markets. For example, an English-speaking team in the UK could use human-machine translation to speak to customers in 10 different languages for presales and post-sales chat or email conversations. This is a far more cost-effective option than outsourcing localization services or hiring native speakers to handle customer service operations. 

Your customers speak more than one language

One of the most proven areas for LangOps is multilingual customer service. Global organizations serve customers from all over the world and often rely on human-machine translation to enable their agents to answer customers’ questions from anywhere in the world. Even for languages that are more complex to translate, such as Japanese, relying on human-in-the-loop AI translation can ensure that the cultural nuances of each language are taken into account. 

A LangOps team would equip the customer service organization (along with other departments throughout the business) to be successful with AI. That would mean the LangOps team has the following responsibilities, just to name a few: 

  • Defining and delivering the operational strategy for language

  • Streamlining business processes to increase efficiency

  • Ensuring that the multilingual machine translation models are trained with the organization’s data, so they can “understand” the unique terminology

  • Equipping agents and other employees to be effective with the technology

  • Measuring results, such as machine translation effectiveness, along with the impact of AI on other customer service KPIs.

Perhaps most importantly, the LangOps team can carry forward their lessons learned to others in the organization, so no one team is operating in a silo.

Multiple departments are hiring native speakers 

Many organizations think that hiring native speakers is the best approach to international expansion. In reality, your top performers can scale their ability to serve new markets with a LangOps team in their corner, regardless of where in the world they are located. 

For example, popular game developer Wargaming uses skill-based routing to auto-direct their customer support tickets to the most qualified agents, who are gamers themselves. Incoming tickets are quickly machine-translated (passing through a human editor when needed to assure quality) via an AI-powered language operations solution and then handled by Wargaming’s support team. Agent responses pass through the same language operations solution and arrive at the customer in their native language via chat or email. That way, the customer is never aware of a language barrier. 

This means support agents can be hired based on their knowledge and passion for gaming, rather than linguistic fluency or versatility. Combined with skill-based routing, players with concerns are connected with the best-suited agent and get their issues resolved in record time. This leads to higher game player satisfaction and increased loyalty to the Wargaming brand. 

This approach doesn’t just work for customer service. It can also help teams scale in departments such as marketing, sales, HR, and more. That way, you can hire for expertise, not language.

Learn more about Language Operations

We’ve only scratched the surface on what it takes to set your organization up for success with a LangOps approach. To learn more about organizations that embrace LangOps, explore our case studies.

About the Author

Profile Photo of Vasco Pedro
Vasco Pedro

Vasco Pedro is a co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Unbabel. He founded Unbabel and its new category creation, LangOps, in 2013, alongside João Graça, Sofia Pessanha, Bruno Silva, Hugo Silva during a surfing trip in Arrifana, Portugal. Under this leadership, Unbabel has since expanded globally with offices in San Francisco, California, and additional US hubs in New York and Pittsburgh, and a subsidiary office in Portugal. Leading brands like Pinterest, Skyscanner, Under Armour, Trello, and Oculus use Unbabel to make their customers happier and their support operations vastly more efficient. Vasco developed his love of both languages and technology during his time at Carnegie Mellon University, where he earned both his Master’s and doctorate in Language Technologies. Vasco then worked at both Siemens and Google, where he helped develop technologies to further understand data computation and language.