Telltale Signs of an Excellent Translation Service Provider

If you are looking for a translation or language service provider (LSP), you may find yourself searching across websites originating anywhere in the world, from the UK to Pakistan. They all make similar claims of professional translation, a thorough quality process and competitive pricing. So how do you decide which translation service to hire?

As someone who has been involved in the translation service  industry for over ten years, I have seen it all. I understand the business from  both sides of the fence and I understand what clients value in a translation  service. To help you, I have compiled a short guideline designed to steer you  in the right direction when choosing the translation service that’s right for  you.

DON’T think price first

If you base your decision on pricing alone, you could rapidly find yourself in deep water. Although cheap translation is not always indicative of low quality, chances are, the linguists who will work on your documents won’t be paid for a thorough job, including research, glossary compilation and an excellent rendition of your text. Worse yet, you may find that the translation service used automated translation and then hired a human translator to conduct a basic review. The results may not make sense, or even sound silly or rude, and consequently tarnish your company’s image. Moreover, you may find yourself back in square one: once again looking for a good translation service provider to fix the problem.

DO think Quality first

If you are looking for more than Google Translation, and want to impress your target readership with some great content in a foreign language, you need a translation service which makes quality their main concern. Your future provider must be willing to give you a detailed description of their process, and that quality process must include:

Glossary and reference compilation
Use of translation memories
Translation by a translator and a separate proofreading by a proofreader
Quality assurance check prior to delivery
Follow-up to ensure satisfaction

With these elements, you are likely to end up with great results that will speak well of your company and even boost your reputation. Don’t settle for anything less.

Multi-step Translator Recruitment Process

Most translation agencies work with freelancers. Some language service providers will select a translator on the basis of their availability alone without checking their references or qualifications for the job at hand. Not good!

You need to make sure that they take recruitment seriously and invest time into selecting the   right translator for you. That means they have to check their resume, references, conduct sample tests, and hold a telephone interview with the prospective translator. Part of what you are paying a translation service for is the selection of the right person for your documents.

The Translation Service Provider Wants Your Input

That’s a great sign! If you submit a document for translation, you are likely to be familiar with it and its context. The translation service provider won’t be, however. So if instead of blindly delving into a job, the provider is asking you for references, existing glossaries, previously done translations (if you had  another provider in the past), or your preferences in terms of style and terminology, that means that they want to do a great job.

 Think Strategically About the Time Zone the Provider is in

Before you dismiss hiring a company in another time zone, think about it again. Sometimes, having a provider in another time zone may put you at an advantage. For example, if you close shop at 5, and the service provider is open for another 2 hours, it may mean that something that landed on your desk right before you clock off, can be given a head start in translation.

 You Need a Response Fast

Last, but certainly not least, your needs are important and you want them treated as such. If you contact a language service provider within their time zone, you should not have to wait longer than 2 to 3 hours for a reply. It will be a sign of how quickly they will respond as they collaborate with you, whether it’s to accept a new order, confirm a deadline, or fix a problem.

Don’t settle on a service which does not make you a priority!

Viena Wroblewska, Linguist and President of APlus
Translations in Vancouver, Canada





6 thoughts on “How to Select a Translation Service

    1. Interesting topic – I am surprised oethrs have not commented.When I started translating 10 years ago I sent out a few CVs and got zero response. On ProZ I responded to some job offers, and got one or two jobs – a very low bit rate.Then I expanded my ProZ profile, and after a very slow start that brought in a growing volume of work mainly thanks to translation companies trawling through ProZ looking for translators. I also signed up with other translation websites and got some work. In short, I am persuaded that registering on translation websites, and playing an active part, is the best marketing. As for social networks (I am on LinkedIn), they are some way from challenging the likes of ProZ.

  1. Multi-step Translator Recruitment Process ?

    Indeed this article provide insight information which one has to consider before doing translation business from a company, but how can a company come to know that this translation agency really hiring professional and experts translators ?

    1. Great question. And the answer is, “with great difficulty”. Of course the results will speak for themselves, but before the translation is completed, the client has to trust the agency’s recruitment process. As in any industry, there is no way to guarantee that an employee will perform up to expectations. However, if an agency has a thorough recruitment process, the chances will be much higher that the person working on a document is truly qualified. How we select translators will be the topic of our next newsletter, which will also be posted here. Check back to have a read.

  2. He estado en internet en busca de información de Madrid por una presentación de la universidad y os he visto de casualidad. No hay nada que ver con lo que estaba buscando pero me gusta mucho cómo contáis las cosas. Os pongo en favoritos porque prometo volver!

    1. Right now I’m taking a look at the book Get Clients Now!, which was rmecmeonded by a fellow translator. The book is about creating and implementing a marketing plan for a small service business, and there are worksheets that you can download from the author’s website.I thought I’d try this and see if it improves my marketing efforts, which could use a bit of discipline. However I’m not entire sure that everything in the book is 100% applicable to translators, since the top method rmecmeonded is direct contacts (cold or warm calling), followed only afterward by networking and referrals. I’ve seen quite a few comments by translators lately that they get most of their business by *being found* by clients who are looking for translators, through venues such as Peter mentions above, through referrals, and so on.

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