Quality as a differentiator in translation? Think again...

When asked what makes your company different from others in your industry, what do you tell people? What truly makes you stand out? If your answer is quality, think again. Everyone's selling quality these days. Sure, it's fine to point out that you utilize high-quality materials or services to deliver the final product to your clients, but that's not really what makes you different. At least, it shouldn't be. The same is true in the world of translation. We don't know of a single translation vendor who would say they don't sell quality services to their clients. If you find one, please let us know. If you're not selling a quality product, why sell anything at all? So rather than listening to a translation vendor brag about its quality and accuracy in translation, (which should be a given) find out what makes the vendor different than its competitors. What makes it unique within the Translation and Interpreting (T&I) industry and stand out among other vendors? What will make you choose one vendor over another when it comes time to purchase translation?

From our own clients at ATS, we've heard several things that help them in making a decision. Here are the top 3 we hear most often:

1. A Personal (and Personable) Experience: Clients want to feel that their project is important, no matter the size or scope. If they have to deal with a lot of red tape in order to receive the translation, they'll soon look elsewhere. Personal experiences don't always mean local ones. Many of our clients are all over the United States and world and have been referred by colleagues and other clients. Why don't they choose a more local vendor? Well, just like any shopping experience, they want to go with a service they've heard will serve them well.

We try to offer that experience to all of our clients. We want to know about our clients and what they do in order to better serve them by respecting their time and allow them to make their decisions based on the information we can make available to them. Even though we may never have the chance to meet them in person, we want our clients to know we value them and can add value to their business or organization by providing them with a seamless communication experience across languages.

2. Specializations: Our linguists specialize. What does this mean? It means we won't send a clinical trial consent form to a translator who specializes in automotive texts simply because her native language is the target* language for this client. We make sure our linguists are specialists in the area(s) they translate, as well as natives of the target language with the education and training necessary to complete the translation as though it were originally written in the target language.

Although specialized linguists might not be a huge differentiator in the T&I industry, it can be the difference between a professional service and language student or instructor from a local language department. Consider your industry's terminology and the complications that arise when complex topics are discussed with those outside the industry. Now, consider the complications that could arise from having the document translated by someone who does not specialize or has little knowledge in the area.

3. Thoroughness: One very special point in which our team at ATS takes great pride is thoroughness. In providing our clients with specialized linguists who work on their texts, we know that our work is thorough. To add to this, we make sure to ask our clients questions about the text itself before we ever touch it. To name a few: Who will be reading the text? What might be confusing to them or has possibly been confusing to those who have read the English text in the past? What industry-specific terms should be maintained in English? Will our clients have in-country reviewers working alongside our team to develop the text for readership in other countries and markets? In what format do our clients prefer to receive the translated documents or materials?

Thoroughness is a broad differentiator. So, if your potential vendor expresses that you'll receive a thorough or accurate translation, ask them to break down what they mean by "thorough" and "accurate". We often have new buyers ask us, "How will I know it's an accurate translation? I don't speak Spanish." That's where we come in. And we further explain how we are able ensure the thorough, accurate and yes, top quality job they seek. But we don't do it just like our competitors. We have other differentiators that add incredible value for our clients, and quality is just a given.

*target language: The language into which the text will be translated. For example, if a client requests that a document be translated from American English into Canadian French, the source language is American English and the target is Canadian French.