6 Tips that will help you find the right language services provider
Your company is thriving and now you plan to introduce it to the international market? On the one hand you are excited and looking forward to new possibilities, on the other hand, however, you just can’t get rid of fears of a totally new country and culture. This is normal. You just have to find someone who will ensure that your prospects understand what you try to say to them. Someone thanks to whom your company will receive a warm welcome in a new country and you will breathe a sigh of relief when you see it finally generates profit. In other words, you need a professional translator or, in other words, language services provider (LSP).
72% of customers are more likely to buy goods online if the information is in their own language*
Although we live in a global village in which English is obviously an international language, it is still highly recommended to use local languages when selling abroad. Firstly, because the knowledge of foreign languages varies in different countries, secondly because it’s much faster and more effective way to earn your prospects’ trust and convince them to buy your product. Remember what the former German chancellor Willy Brandt once said:
If I am selling to you, I speak your language. If I am buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen.
This was never more true than today.
Today technologies as well as communication channels make our life much easier and faster at the same time. Information is transmitted actually in no time now which also affects translation services sector. Many companies set the challenges high and expect their language provider to deliver translations fast and at low prices. So they usually turn to translation agencies who thanks to a large number of translators and sometimes new technologies can fulfil both requirements. Of course, larger translation companies offer many advantages and if you have large volume of documents that need to be translated in multiple languages a translation company is certainly the right choice for you if you want to translate your documents into many languages at the same time. However, another solution could be searching for your own translators who will provide the same or even higher quality. There are many benefits of such a situation. The complex translation and management process provided by translation agencies generates hidden costs which means that the service alone could cost much less if a company hired an individual translator. Moreover, if you care about your brand voice it is vital to have continuous contact with someone who understands it and has a similar style to yours. Whereas in translation company the only contact you have is a project manager or sales person, which means that the time needed to complete the project will be longer because you don’t have a direct contact with the translator. And last but not least, don’t be tempted by the low price because you will have to deal either with amateurs or poor quality. This is why focusing on high language standards as well as expert knowledge should be the first thing to consider when choosing your language provider. Therefore, many companies that plan to go global turn to individual translators. Because only quality can guaranty your business best results and customer satisfaction.
“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do…”
— John Ruskin
Why is it so?
Nearly one half of 572 executives surveyed for the purpose of a 2012 report* produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit admitted that poor communication as well ineffective collaboration prevented their companies from making major international deals which resulted in financial loss. In addition, almost two-thirds (64%) of the respondents said that language and cultural barriers make it difficult for their businesses to go abroad.*
Low-quality translation can give a bad impression of your business too.
Ford wanted to emphasize on their cars excellent manufacturing to Belgium and launched an ad campaign with the slogan “Every car has a high-quality body.” However, when translated, it read, “Every car has a high-quality corpse”.
I know two languages. Why do I need a translator when I can do it myself?
Being bilingual is simply not enough. It takes writing and translation skills as well as a thorough knowledge about different cultures and subject matter to become a really good translator.
What about machine translation like Google Translate?
Whereas Google Translate may sometimes be a cheap solution to translate from English into Spanish or German it just can’t do the same with Polish simply because of many mistakes. Polish is from a Slavic language family whereas English and German, for example, have their roots in German language family. This is why it is simpler and faster to translate into those languages which cannot be said about Polish.
What should I do, then?
1. First of all, find a translator, who specialises in your field.
For example, if you work in IT industry you don’t want your translator to be an expert in medicine. Find out what they know, what they are interested in and what experience they have. Be careful, though, as many ‘professionals’ can have many specialisations, e.g. they state they are experts in law, medicine, IT, marketing etc. From my own experience: it takes time to know even one or two fields inside out. As a business and marketing translator I always say to my customers that I cannot accept medical documents simple because that’s not my area of expertise and I feel responsible for what I do.
2. Translation education and certificates
I can’t stress enough the importance of translation education. It is simply not enough to know two languages or more and start translating. Many bilinguals decide to take translation courses to learn all translation techniques and best practices. After such a course, they are also more language sensitive so they can spot any linguistic mistake faster.
3. Search for Experience
Experience is as important as translation education here. It is the time when a professional translator can implement their knowledge into practice and find out even more. The more experience you have, of course, the better you are. Translators learn all the time.
4. Invest in Quality
As a professional and experienced translator I can say that what you should focus on while searching for a good LSP is quality and high standards. If you think that you will find any for a low price you’re wrong. Most professional translators with many years of experience set their prices high because only this way they can guarantee you best results. Invest in their knowledge and skills and you will find out what a difference it makes to your company.
5. Acknowledge professional development
Translators who keep up-to-date with the industry news and further develop their skills are sure to be a good asset to your company. They know exactly what the current trends are meaning they will know what to do the very moment they receive the project from you. Also, they will understand your work and goals and what you try to achieve.
6. Professional memberships
They are not compulsory as you can find many great translators outside such organisations, however, it is highly recommended for language providers to become a member of such institutions because they provide them with proper courses, organise workshops and conferences where translators can network as well as share they knowledge and experience with each other.
First source: (*Sense Advisory Report Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: Why Language Matters on Global Websites), 2006)
Second source: *Competing Across Borders: How Cultural And Communication Barriers Affect Business, The Economist Intelligence Unit 2012
Hanna Gembus is a professional Polish English and Polish German translator and communication specialist based in the United Kingdom providing translation, content, interpreting and market research services to small, medium-sized and large companies and organisations. She specialises in business, marketing and e-commerce, using linguistic and cultural knowledge to help both start-ups and established companies improve their presence on the market and increase sales. http://langoa.eu