What does the client want? About translations and priorities …

client's expectations

Since I’m currently working on the design of my new website, I thought, “I need to listen to my friends’ opinions.”

And so I asked my non-translator friends on Facebook and Twitter this question: “What if you need a translation, for example, because you have a machine at work and that a manual should be translated for it. Or you have an article from a trade magazine that you would like to distribute within your company. Suppose you didn’t know me, and you had to arrange it anyway. How do you decide which translation company to choose? On the basis of which factors do you then determine who will perform the translation? 

From this question it soon became clear that Google is still the most commonly used search method to find a Chinese translator. So I followed up on my question with a new one:”What do you pay attention to in the process? How do you then assess the website of such a Chinese translator or Chinese translation agency?

The answers were interesting for us as language specialists. What is apparent is that many potential customers have different priorities than we expect. Fast delivery & good availability are almost always paramount. Then one would think that quality would certainly be the second most important aspect, but when I asked whether the price was more important than quality, there were surprising answers: that perfection was not necessary if the price was interesting, and that comprehensible text was good enough, in many cases. That sounds strange to us, the language professionals, because we are often go almost hyperventilating for a misplaced comma…. But people for whom language is not bread and butter care much less about it than we think.

Then came the question what potential customers look at once they have arrived on your website (often only the first ten hits are viewed at Google, people are lazy and just want a quick answer). People want to find information quickly to guide them on what they can do. So they see at a glance whether they’ve arrived at the right site: Is it a translation company? Does it do the languages I need? Are their translators certified?

Surprisingly enough, potential customers are not looking for specialisations. In general, they care little about how a site looks, but they think speed is especially important: a site that has to load first and then you have to click countless times before you get to the desired information, they can’t do anything with it. Information must be found within a few mouse clicks, otherwise they will be deleted.

Another point is pricing. People want to see what it will cost right away. Well, in my case, that is not so easy. I use different rates for different services, so setting a standard price is simply not possible. Translation is tailor-made, so the quotation for a translation is tailor-made. But this information must also be able to seen by a potential customer quickly.

When selecting a Chinese translator, people also rely on references: what do others think of this translator? I think it is therefore wise to also put references of your work on the first page in a clearly visible way, as a lure. Look, other people like me too….”.

All in all, it was an instructive afternoon on Facebook, with all the feedback I got and which I now have to incorporate in my new website. I’m excited, it feels like I’ve given myself a gift, a new toy that will allow me to present my work even better in the future, which will enable me to attract even more customers.