Translation and Interpreting: How to Best Communicate with Foreign Language-Speaking Customers

Willy Brandt, the former West German Chancellor, once famously said: “If I am selling to Asian interpretationyou, I speak your language. If I am buying, dann müssen sie Deutsch sprechen (then you must speak German).”
The quote underscores a point we continue to emphasize more broadly to businesses and organizations today: the most effective way to communicate with clients, consumers and your own employees is in their own language.

In the growing global marketplace, effective cross-cultural communication with clients and consumers is a necessity that no successful business can ignore. Remember these stats from a survey of consumers in eight countries conducted by Common Sense Advisory:

  • 1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language.
  • 4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language.
  • 2% of consumers said that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price.

The key to successfully communicating with your foreign language-speaking customers is to partner with a firm that offers professional translation, Web and software localization and interpreting, as well as language and cultural training.
What to look for in a professional translation service

  • Language proficiency
    For business and technical translations, it is essential that expert, native translation be available from and to any language, on virtually any subject. Translations must also be rendered in the specific regional variety of the target language, by trained, professional linguists who are fully cognizant of any vocabulary and usage issues. (For example, Spanish translations targeted for Mexico often require significant changes for Spain or South America.)
  • Reputation
    Before signing the contract, do your homework. Check their website. Do they offer comprehensive services, beyond simple text translation (for example, page layout, interactive media or video)? Can requests for any world language be handled? How long has the company been in business, and who are their clients?
  • Quality Control
    Even the best writers don’t try to proof their own work—nor should a single translator. Additional editing/proofreading steps are required, as well as a rigorous check of the final product by a quality-control professional.
  • Customer Service
    Does the translation company have dedicated Account Managers with a track record of meeting deadlines and providing regular progress updates? Do they ask questions when there’s any doubt about the English original? Are they available for quick turnarounds, and have sufficient resources to handle large projects in multiple languages?

The Translation Process
Translations provided by ASIST have been perfected through a 4-step process to ensure accuracy. Our translators are trained professionals, not only native speakers of the target language, but also with expertise in the subject matter. An editor is a second linguist who reviews grammar, checks accuracy, makes suggestions to further complement the style of the translation, and verifies that field-specific terms have been interpreted correctly. Yet another linguist, the proofreader, then reviews the document for consistency and completeness, ensuring that the translation is as accurate, culturally sensitive, and polished as possible. Finally, our quality control department reviews the document from the client’s point of view, verifying that all formatting, graphics, typefaces, and other layout details are faithful to the original.
Page Layouts and Translation
A professional translation agency can create the foreign-language versions of your page layouts, using your source documents. For example, ASIST can format in all major page-layout and design programs for both Mac and Windows. If instead you use our supplied translation to do a layout in-house, it is absolutely critical to have the final version reviewed by our professional linguists before going to print. We won’t go into the details here, but often the conventions for capitalization, punctuation, spacing and so on are decidedly different from English.
Websites, Software and Content Management Localization
Many of our clients manage work forces around the globe, providing newsletters, HR information, training and safety materials in multiple languages. It’s important that your translation provider have the technical depth to ensure your content is rendered correctly for website pages (including HTML, PHP, JavaScript or any other requested programming language) and in server-ready electronic files. You also need professional native-speaking experts who will ensure translations are faithful to the intent of your original message and respect the cultural aspects and customs of the audience you are trying to reach.
When meeting with non-English speaking clients or associates, it is important to work with professional interpreters—either onsite or by telephone or Video Remote Interpreting (VRI). ASIST interpreters undergo thorough testing and training, are acutely aware of their role as cross-cultural facilitators, and are committed to prompt, professional service.
With the diversity of today’s workplace and the opportunities in the global market, it is important to think of your translation provider as a strategic partner. If you need help or further guidance, give us a call. We’re ready to assist.
For more than 30 years, ASIST Translation Services, Inc. has worked with business, government, educational and non-profit clients around the world. We improve foreign language communications through a full menu of translation and interpreting services, including content localization, studio voice recording & audio-visual production, transcreation, proofreading, website content, page layout & design, cultural training, and other specialized language support. To learn more about how we can assist you, visit our LinkedInTwitter or Facebook pages or our Website!