In this article I am considering reputation in the translations industry. These aspects are often intrinsically linked with customer services. But customer service is only a part of what makes a reputation.
I would argue that your personal reputation is one of the most valuable things that we will own regardless of where we are of what we do. It is something that is with you always, affects parts of your daily life and is very difficult to change.
Unfortunately nothing sticks to a reputation quicker or longer then mud (negative’s). So it is important to avoid such potential instance as much as possible and if possible quash any such occurrences irrevocably.
Reputation of a Translation Agency with its Clients
Like all businesses, without your clients you don’t have a business. A translation agency must ensure it creates a good reputation with its clients. This can be achieved by:
1) Quality of Translation – Using only qualified and experienced translators working into their mother-tongue. Proofreading of the translation. Testing translators and auditing of their translation work. Sticking with the tried and tested translation professionals
One way quality is sometimes lost is through subcontracting. The translation agency has lost control of the translation and is therefore not in control of the quality.
2) Quality of Service – Quick response and general customer care.
3) Management of the Clients Expectations – A translation professional cannot always expect someone who is not working in the industry to understand what is required. This particularly applies to deadlines.
In such cases it is better to offer options with the translation quotation rather then promises that you cannot keep. For instance: The options might be ‘later delivery v no proofreading’
The general rule has to be that you only commit to what you can achieve.
Reputation of a Translation Agency with Freelance Translators
Most agencies use a mixture of both employed and freelance translators. The freelancer only assists as and when required against won projects. A good freelance translator is pretty much like a good translation agency:
‘They provide good quality of work and they work to mutually agreed deadlines’.
Having freelancers that you can rely on is part of being a good translation company and an integral part therefore of keeping the reputation of the agency with its clients.
You can most easily manage your translations agencies reputation with freelancers by:
1) Prompt Payment – It seems that the translation industry is a minefield full of late paying translation agencies that need chasing repeatedly. Its completely bizarre to me as this takes additional resources of the agency to manage the late payments. After all, if payments of $50 make a difference to your business, you may wish to address this matter through other means.
Paying your translator early or on time can therefore standout. They will feel good about the agency and be more willing to go that extra mile in quality and working hours to look after the translation agencies interests.
2) Agreement before commencement – It is best that as many variables as possible are agreed in writing before the project commences. Ensure that in writing the translators has been informed of: i) Language Combination and Direction ii) Types of translation – Is it medical for instance iii) Type of source document e.g. PDF iv) Format the translation is to be returned in. e.g. MS Word v) Translation Deadline vi) Fee or rate to be applied vii) Wordcount. (In some cases it is possible and necessary to send a copy of the translation in advance to the translators. But this is often restricted as prior to having a full agreement with the translator this could be deemed a breach of your clients confidentiality).
At this point the translation agency should require feedback from the translator. A written confirmation that they are capable of fulfilling the requirements set-out.
C) Reputation as a Freelance Translator – The saying goes ‘a salesman is only as good as his last sale’. A similar saying could also be applied to translators ‘A translator is only as good as their last translation’. In both circumstances there is the detail to consider.
A freelance translator generally seeks a situation where they have a regular client base who consider them first. Ideally, if they are too busy the client will still come to them first for the next project and the next project.
Reputation for a freelancer allows them to earn better rates even though there will always be someone else offering to do the same job for less money. It allows the freelance translator to discuss the issues of a project openly with the client or translation project manager and have them work with them to complete their service.
The reputation of a freelance translator can be most easily maintained by:
1) Staying within their capabilities. It is not advisable to take on highly complicated specialised texts that you have no experience with unless you have discussed this with your client and have a clear plan how you will complete the project. Otherwise you might perform below what is reasonable.
2) Work to deadlines. Ensure that you assess the deadline and only agree to what is achievable. If you are upfront and say when the translation can be achievable this may well turnout fine and avoid loss of your personal standards for quality.
3) Check your work. It is advisable to take a short break and then review your translation before you send. You may have made some simple error or missed something that this last scan can pick up. This will also avoid you sending the wrong file. Checking you own work is not proofreading. Proofreading in my opinion involves a 2nd independent translator.
4) Problems – If you have a problem or require extra time it is important to tell the client ASAP. This allows the issue to be addressed as soon as possible and a solution found. The problem might be legibility of part of the source text or you might be delayed due to a personal problem. If possible, the more warning notice the better for everybody.
I guess when reading this we must be reminded that with extra care and communication we should all be able to benefit from less problems and more stability from our lives in the translations industry. This care will guard our reputations.