A good translation agency client is one that pays on time. End of story?

For some, perhaps. But if that’s all it takes to be good, is good really enough? Shouldn’t all translation companies be striving to be great clients for their suppliers? And what separates the good from the great, anyhow?

For 20 years, STP has worked almost exclusively for other translation companies. Some of our regular freelance translators have been with us since the start, and many of them say lovely things about us. So we know what it’s like to work for great agency clients – as well as what it takes to be one.

We’ve distilled it into 10 essential traits. And it all starts with a little…

1. Respect

A great client never forgets that without its suppliers, it has no product to sell.

It pays, quite literally, to keep your freelancers and vendors on your side – and it’s as simple as treating them as you would want to be treated.

2. Empathy

Translators are people, with human feelings, flaws, needs and desires. They also have a life outside work, with all the ups and downs that go with it.

A great client knows that a little warmth and understanding goes a long way.

3. Brilliant PMs

If a translation company were a sports car, then its project managers would be its supercharged engine.

No, not because they’re noisy, high-maintenance and prone to breakdowns. But because without them, the business would go nowhere fast.

That’s why, for a great agency client, only the best PMs make the grade.

4. Collaboration

To a great client, translators aren’t just faceless drones who churn out work, get paid and slip back into the shadows. They are central to the business’s success.

A great agency client seeks ideas, builds relationships and gives suppliers the chance to grow with them. Because to them, collaboration is progress.

5. Integrity

Do what you said you would. Do it on time and as agreed. And if you can’t do it, be open and honest about it – or don’t promise it to begin with.

A great agency client knows that without honesty, there is no trust – and without trust, relationships don’t last.

6. Expertise from the top down

Translation is big business and, like it or not, the people at the top aren’t always there because of a burning passion for languages.

Even so, there are still agencies with translation experts in every single department. And it’s little wonder that those companies tend to make the greatest clients.

7. Technologenius

A good translation agency client embraces technology. A great one lives and breathes it, always seeking new ways to streamline the journey from project start to final delivery. And when things go wrong, their help and advice is always on tap.

8. Responsiveness

Payment issues. Project-critical queries. Technical meltdowns. Urgent job set-ups.

Suppliers need swift action on all of these. And a great client never keeps them waiting.

9. Communication

Nothing sinks a translation project faster than miscommunication. And in a profession conducted almost entirely by email, the threat of calamity is never far away. To a great client, clarity is everything.

10. Gratitude

Translation can feel like a thankless trade sometimes – but not when you work with the right people.

Great agency clients praise good work, keep mistakes in proportion and greet every delivery with gratitude. In return they get loyal, motivated suppliers who always go above and beyond.

Need a new supplier for translation and localisation work into Danish, English, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian or Swedish? We’re always delighted hear from LSPs who value quality, service and professionalism as much as we do – so please do get in touch if you’d like to try working with us.

Icebreaker, Icebreaker September 2015, Translation industry