The London Borough of Lambeth is a thriving district of inner-London that is home to more than 303,000 people.

Lying at the heart of one of the biggest cities in the world, the council has to provide a wealth of services for a hugely-diverse population while also contending with an influx of millions of visitors from around the globe each year.

Customer service is at the heart of the organisation and, as it faces an unprecedented era of funding cuts and new legislation, the council has had to work hard to minimise the impact on the service it offers while also driving through far-reaching efficiencies.


The Challenge

Each month, Lambeth London Borough Council has to provide advice, support and guidance to hundreds of people in different languages across their service range. Each appointment needed the presence of an interpreter and each individual case had to be billed separately.

The need for individual linguists not only had significant cost complications, but also placed a huge burden on the council’s accounts team who had to deal with around 4,000 invoices a year for face-to-face interpretation services.

With a new climate of austerity, the council urgently needed to find ways to cut costs and improve efficiency.

The Solution

thebigword has been working with Lambeth London Borough Council since 2011, providing all of their interpretation needs and ensuring they can deliver a high quality service to everyone in the borough.

With individual cost codes for every face-to-face interpretation appointment, the paperwork involved was a major burden on council resources and staff turned to thebigword for help in streamlining the process and cutting costs.

thebigword first worked closely with the council to understand their systems and then developed a new invoicing system that meant all interpretation services could be grouped under three accounts. The result was that the council would now get three invoices from thebigword a month instead of more than 300.

Secondly, thebigword looked at how it could help the council to cut costs through the interpretation solutions it was accessing. thebigword introduced the council to its cutting edge Telephone Interpreting System which enables staff to get language support over the phone rather than through face-to-face meetings.

Under thebigword Telephone Interpreting System, council staff can instantly access expert linguists in more than 250 languages and dialects over the phone. The service is fully automated and guides users to the most suitable translator, ensuring service users always receive the support they need.

thebigword worked closely with the council to drive through the changes and demonstrate the benefits of the service. Today, more than half of all interpretation needs are met through the Telephone Interpreting service and the council has saved £100,000.

The strength of the relationship with the council and the innovation provided by thebigword has had a far-reaching impact across the council, with a spokesperson saying: “thebigword unwavering dedication to providing innovation and fresh thinking aligns with our core values and we are very proud to be supported by them.”


Making major savings through new, more efficient, processes.

“thebigword unwavering dedication to providing innovation and fresh thinking aligns with our core values and we are very proud to be supported by them.”


Spokesperson. London Borough of Lambeth