- Posted by Stephen Whiteley
- On 12/11/2014
The first thing all clients want to know when they need a professional translation is “How much will it cost?” It is obviously an important question, but one which loses importance as we start delving deeper into the nature of translation.
Basically, there are two approaches to translation in business: the “commodity” approach and the “service” approach.
Those who think that “translation is a commodity” believe that all translations are the same and the only differentiating element, therefore, is price. Just like with raw materials or low added-value products which can be easily substituted, if you´re cheaper than the next supplier, you´ll make the sale. Otherwise, you won´t. That´s just the way it goes.
On the other hand, those who think that “translation is a service” will bear in mind other factors, not just price. They will also take into account “Quality” and “Speed” (or Flexibility, at least) and will expect something more than just a low price.
(The relationship between these three elements in translation is particularly interesting, and has been analysed in another post: “What Clients want from their Translation supplier or Escher’s Impossible Triangle“)
In my opinion “service“, in the context of translation for business, means
- Delivering on time – nothing is more annoying than to not receive a document, however small, in time for a meeting, presentation or any other deadline.
- Having a linguistic expert available for quick consultation – being able to call/e-mail your supplier to make sure a particular term has not been misspelt is possibly the most confidence-inspiring bit of added value in the translation industry
- Reacting quickly to all linguistic needs – business today is often a question of speed. I don´t want this next week, I needed it yesterday!
- Being able to obtain related services – can I get it in Powerpoint? what about QuarkXpress?
Translation services in business are all about confidence, for many reasons. As a client of translation, I want to be absolutely certain not only that there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes, but also that the target version is totally adequate in my business context and appropriate for my target audience.
To summarise, if you´re not particulary interested in the result, just go for price. But if you have to work with what you get and defend it in front of your boss or (heaven forbid!) a client, make sure you have chosen a professional, top-quality service and not just the cheapest around…