Translation services: How do you benchmark quality?

17/09/2020 | Rebecca Twose

Translation services are a key requirement for a wide range of industries who need to connect with their audience on a global scale. Therefore it’s essential that businesses receive translations that are accurate and reflective of the original content, but how do you benchmark the quality of the translations you receive?

When you decide to purchase an item it’s often easier to determine quality vs. value for money for some products over others. Why? Because some products are tangible – you can compare them, try them out and see what you’re getting.  If you’re buying a sofa, you can see if you like the design, you can sit on it before buying, and you can compare it to others before making a decision. It’s easier to justify paying £300 more for one sofa over another.

Compare this to commissioning a translation project. Let’s say you need a brochure translating into eight languages, so you go to two companies to get a quote – and there’s a £300 difference between the two. Unlike a sofa, translation isn’t a tangible product – chances are, you don’t speak eight languages and you can’t have both agencies carry out the job for you so that you can pick the best one.

How do you decide whether it’s worth paying the higher rate? You could look at reviews – however, it’s rare to find bad reviews on a company website. You can ask for a breakdown of costs – but again, if translation isn’t your specialist area, it’s difficult to judge whether additional services are worth it.

Quality

Should you choose to pay more?

As with any service, it is essential to explore whether the cheapest solution is also the best one and vice versa. If a translation company is offering its services at a much lower price than the rest of its competitors, you should ask yourself why that is. It could be that their translation process is not as thorough as other companies or they aren’t using native linguists, in which case how good is the quality of the end product going to be?

Translated content is just as important as the original. Brochures are there to increase sales, and the wording is chosen carefully to appeal to the reader. It’s not enough for a person to just be able to read the content in their own language – it needs to read as well in the target language as it does in the source.  So when selecting a translation provider, you need to ask yourself if the provider in question is mindful of your business’ brand and its values. A high-quality translation provider will localise your translations to your target market whilst ensuring the style is consistent and reflects your brand and business goals.

It’s also crucial that translations are right the first time – is the extra £300 worth paying if the translations are guaranteed to be accurate and delivered by the deadline? Fixing translations after the fact results in delays, increased costs and unnecessary stress, whereas receiving high-quality translations the first time round avoids unnecessary costs and saves time.

What should you look for in a translation provider?

You should always look for a provider who holds accreditations such as ISO 9001, ISO 27001 and ISO 17100 to assure you that a) the company follows certain quality processes and holds specific quality standards and b) your data is protected and conforms to GDPR regulations, for example. Considerable investment goes into applying and retaining these accreditations so whilst you may pay more, you are dealing with a company that has strict quality and security policies, which should give you confidence in that provider.

Professional companies also invest in their project management teams. They spend money hiring experienced staff who are responsive, friendly and knowledgeable. Customer service is just as important as the product itself, especially in an industry such as translation when you’re working to strict deadlines.

So when considering which translation company to choose for your language needs, remember that price is not the only contributing factor. In the words of Red Adair “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur”.

If your business is looking for professional translation & language services that you can depend on, take a look at our industry-specific services or get a free quote.

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