Last week, a potential customer told me they prefer to translate their marketing texts themselves. They’re not interested in ordering translations from a translation agency. They had once ordered a professional translation from an agency and, as a result of the experiment, their relaxed marketing style had been turned into what the customer felt was something more like a scientific research report.
We discussed what might have caused the failure in the translation service. This customer, like many others, seemed to have a somewhat incomplete understanding of what a translation agency does and doesn’t do. The biggest surprise for customers is usually how technical translation services are today.
So, I will try to summarise below what we as a translation agency do to make life easier for our customers.
1. We offer translation services in different languages
Naturally, a translation agency can provide you with translations into different languages. The language selections of agencies vary. As a rule, the larger the translation agency, the wider the range of languages. Customers contact a translation agency especially when they need translations into languages that they don’t master themselves.
If the customer maintains several language versions of their documentation, software or website, ordering translations from one place is absolutely the reasonable approach.
2. Efficient translation service process
Ordering translations is not just about individual translations. Translation agencies sell a service that covers the entire process, from workflow to project management and advanced technology. We maintain tools that handle different file formats, optimise the order process and speed up translation work.
At the translation agency, the customer relationship is supervised by an account manager, who knows how to propose solutions and smart practices that benefit the customer. Individual translation projects are coordinated by a project manager, who can keep several balls up in the air in even the most complex assignments consisting of numerous files. They don’t know your needs and style requirements in advance but, as professionals, once they hear about them, they can suggest a solution.
3. Cooperation between people and technology speeds up the translation process
Ordering translations from a translation agency and the translation work itself become faster when the translation is done by a professional translator with the aid of language technology. Language technology refers, first and foremost, to translation tools that speed up the translator’s work and help them maintain the correct style and terminological consistency in the translation.
If the customer company doesn’t have a dedicated translation department, it will rarely have any translation tools either. Without such tools, translation can be painfully slow and, in the worst case, the same text could be translated from scratch several times, wasting valuable time and resources.
4. The translator learns your style and terminology
Although many translators specialise in a certain field, few automatically know the style and terminology of all customers. It’s not reasonable for you to send your text to be translated without giving any other information and expect the result to be perfect. Of course, you could but why would you? You wouldn’t order a new visual corporate image from a graphic designer or a new advertisement from a communications agency without telling them about your target audience and style preferences.
A translation agency uses translation memory and terminology tools, reference materials and style guides as an aid in translation work. The more effort you put into the terminology and reference materials used, the smoother the ordering of translations from the translation agency becomes.
5. Easy to reach, with reliable deliveries
Customers who have their texts translated by one of their own employees or a single familiar translator usually start to sweat if this person is suddenly unavailable to do an urgent translation assignment. Where on earth could they now get the translation done within the given timeframe?
One of the strengths of translation agencies is they are easy to reach. If the translator reserved for the customer’s translations happens to fall ill, the project manager can arrange for a replacement or an entire team of translators to complete the translation. We’re not dependent on a single translator, and we don’t throw the towel in, even in challenging situations. For many, trustworthiness and delivery reliability are the most important factors when ordering urgent translations.
6. Save time through system integration
To an increasing extent, a customer’s translatable materials come in formats other than traditional Word files. Often, translations are required for materials in the customer’s own content or product information management systems (CMS and PIM systems).
In such cases, the smartest approach is not to copy texts to and from Word files but to integrate the systems so that the files move smoothly from the customer’s system to the translation agency’s translation management system and then back to the customer’s system after translation.
7. All language services under one roof
In addition to translations, translation agencies usually provide other language services, too. In addition to review by a native speaker and interpretation services, there is an increasing demand for subtitling and transcription of videos since the Accessibility Directive entered into force, for example. A translation agency can also provide customers with search engine optimisation of foreign-language texts, software localisation or secure machine translation of large volumes of text, among other services.
A good translation agency is a strategic partner for the company in all language-related issues. A partner who is easy to turn to and who knows how to suggest just the right language service solution.
The purpose of a translation agency is to make your life easier. This happens when your time is freed up to do things other than waste time on random searches for translators or monotonous copying and pasting. You don’t need to translate yourself if that’s not part of your core competence. Instead, a professional can perform the task quickly and cost-efficiently, provided they get all the information they need for the job.
If you feel your translation service provider just creates additional stress for you and the service doesn’t meet your expectations, it’s time to change the agency.