Language provision is a service industry, and like many other services, the quality of delivery is dependent on multiple factors, be they objective or subjective in nature.

We could boil it down to the following key ingredients on most translation buyers’ shopping lists:

  • high quality translations;
  • prompt turnaround times;
  • efficient and polite communication;
  • competitive pricing;
  • technical compatibility.

The provision of a perfect service will exceed expectations in all such elements, but the precise definition of each of these ingredients is unique to the business context and expectations of individual clients.

As a service provider, our inherent aim is to build the most effective and efficient solutions tailored for each client. How does that translate (excuse the pun) into real terms? We encourage open two-way dialogue between teams from our respective companies across the board – mutual collaboration at all levels allows us to find the right synergies.

So, what do our people talk about?

Client services, sales and management teams

  • The rates the client needs and the volume of work they would send at those levels; rates discounts and rebate schemes may be offered in return for committed volumes.
  • Their service level agreements and expectations, such as special security or data requirements; we can share our own security processes to confirm our sound set-up.

Technology teams

  • The systems used for project management, file processing, translation, vendor management and invoicing; our respective teams can discuss how to streamline processes for handing off and delivering work, using automation to save human hours in routine processing tasks.

Key Account Managers, Project Managers and Vendor Managers

  • The client’s typical turnaround expectations and volumes on a granular basis and how many linguists they would like in their pool; the client benefits from having the continuity of translators experienced in their projects reserved for their daily drops.
  • The client’s translator qualification criteria; this allows us to select appropriate linguists and provide reassurance in the quality of the supply chain.
  • The life-cycle of a client’s typical project, including quality and review processes, so we can prepare to respond in an appropriate manner.

Language and cultural experts – our translators and client reviewers/product experts

  • The style and tone the client is looking for, as experts in the field of their target market.
  • How to share regular and constructive feedback; this could be a monthly report, or a regular conference call where both parties share their professional viewpoints on linguistic matters.

So, we have finalised our agreement, the work starts to roll in and the collaboration matures. The client is receiving translation services according to their requirements, and we are receiving our sales volumes with our invoices being paid on time. Have we created the perfect recipe?

Delivering quality service is an evolving art. The industry’s technology, expectations, systems and processes are always moving forward. Therefore, the final ingredient in successful, long-term collaboration is for both partners to embrace a relationship where they continue talking and listening to each other, responding and adapting accordingly.

It is arguably a simplistic notion, but such continued open dialogue really can be the icing on the cake.

Susan Hoare is STP’s Operations Manager.

Icebreaker, Icebreaker December 2018, Industry issues, Translation industry