Why offer administrative support services rather than strictly translations?
We believe that conscientious translators should have their customers’ best interest at heart. The customers’ best interest is to receive the required assistance quickly, accurately and cost-effectively. Therefore, offering administrative support services may be more appropriate at times than a straightforward translation. If, for example, a quick phone call or the summary of a document’s salient points may help the client solving his problems here and now, translators should offer this option. However, it is the client’s prerogative to opt for the long-winded translation or series of correspondence.
Due to the personal contact between freelance translators and their clients, a translator is often told why a client needs a particular document translated. More often than not it is just one or two facts they need to know. Therefore, a meticulous, time-consuming translation of every detail of the text is not really what the client needs on these occasions. Offering alternative services can be very beneficial to clients. Providing bilingual business support gives the client what they need in these circumstances.
And yes, this modus operandi means that the translator will lose a bit of money in the short term. But, in the long term, he may gain a repeat client who trusts his translator and will consult him on future language problems. Because, when translators show that they can “think outside the box” and seek to offer good customer service, they are likely to gain their clients’ trust and thus increase their chance of repeat business.
First class service is indeed why we offer bilingual business support for UK clients and those that live in neigbouring countries. Please find below a few practical examples of how we can help.
Helping with cross-border administrative tasks
A business based in Germany has received a document by Spanish authorities with respect to VAT administration. The company informs the translator that it needs to know what deadline they are expected to meet. Let’s say the translator locates the required information in line 5 of the the text (e.g. within 30 days). What does the client gain, if the translator goes ahead and translates every single detail? Nothing.
So, for a value added service, we suggest translators give their clients the option of just passing on the important information. While the translator may earn slightly less on this occasion it saves a lot of time. What is more, the client is likely to appreciate having received the required information quickly and reliably – and at a lower rate than expected.
A company based in the UK hires out workers in Switzerland. Employment contracts are therefore subject to Swiss employment laws. The company receives communication from the Swiss authorities in German or French, apparently querying a British employment practice.
The translator renders an English translation of the Swiss document. However, the British company does not understand what exactly it is doing wrong even after receiving the translation. At this point the British company may embark in a series of letters until it knows precisely what the problem is. However, there is a quicker, more efficient way of dealing with this situation, such as employing a native speaker of German/French to contact the Swiss authorities by phone and ask the appropriate questions: What is the company not doing right? What needs to be done instead? This is also the more cost-effective solution, as a short telephone conversation can resolve more issues than a lengthy letter.
Buying and managing property abroad
An English client recently bought a property in France. The property owner receives a bill he doesn’t understand. Now the translator could painstakingly translate/copy out every single word, sum and reference number and charge appropriately.
But, is the client likely to need all this information? No. He’s looking for the reason for the invoice, which payment terms apply and the recipient’s bank details.
Customer serAt this point, translators should ask the client whether he would prefer an in-depth (time-consuming and therefore relatively expensive) translation or a summary of the details he needs (as specified by him). Given the option, most clients will opt for the more cost-effective, streamlined solution.