Or What Makes the Difference in the Quality of Translation Services


Have you ever heard a service company praising itself for having hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of clients? Have you ever dealt with a company like that? How did it make you feel?

Too big to care?

Calling the office and being put on hold for what seems like an eternity only to be transferred to someone else, having to explain the same thing over and over to different people, then maybe being promised that they will get back to you “as soon as possible…” then not hearing back from them for days or even weeks, or ever… then dealing with yet another person when you take the time to call them again, explaining everything all over again… If you are brave enough to trust the office with your business after that ordeal, you might end up dealing with people who apologize for their lack of knowledge, as they have just joined the company, or whatever other excuse for poor service they might have.

Sounds familiar?

If you are like me and are tired of this type of service, there is a good chance that you’ve given up dealing with big companies altogether and have decided to hire a small, local company for the service you need. I like going to a local butcher to buy meat and a local bakery to get a cake for my dinner party. In places like these, unlike impersonal large chain grocery stores, I am personally greeted and it feels good to have that small talk with a shop owner, to be treated as an old friend, but what is even more important is that I know I am getting quality: I know that the baker has put all his craft and soul into making that loaf, he carefully wraps and packages it for me, I know that he actually cares if my family will like it and I will make sure to let him know how it was next time I see him.

Sales-driven mass production

The translation industry is no exception. Big translation companies get business not because the quality of their services is exceptional, but simply due to huge sales and the marketing force they have. Once they get your business, you become just another one of their many clients. In fact, they have so many clients that it won’t hurt them too much to lose one, or even a few, — their sales team will work hard to bring them 10 times more.

Their translation process is mass production and their success depends on volume. They compile huge databases of qualified contractors which is great, isn’t it? Well, it is to a certain degree. In order to become their vendor, the translators usually take a standardized test. Having a lot of translators is crucial as everybody should be replaceable. How it works in reality is this: you send the company your project, let’s say the GUI for your software to be translated, and they assign it to someone who presumably does a great job translating the strings. They might even have them proofread by another linguist (for which they will charge you extra) and follow other QA procedures to deliver a quality translation to you, their client.

In a while, you have a new set of strings requiring translation and send them to the translation company again. The company tries to assign the project to the same translator but for whatever reason, that person is not available (because they recruit freelancers just like smaller companies). The project manager pulls up the database and assigns the project to the next person on the list to get it going as soon as possible. Oh, and the project manager could be different this time around. This scenario can repeat itself over time and eventually you end up with inconsistent translations in your software, as in my car’s navigation system, which sometimes says “Would you like to start the route guidance?” while at other times I hear: “The navigation is cancelled.” Wonder why? Because different translators worked on the same project, and each one of them used their own preferred words. Not too big of a deal in my case, perhaps, but it might be crucial for, say, a medical device, or a law enforcement software localization.

Impersonal vendor management

Big translation companies are either too busy with their hundreds of clients to properly update and manage their Glossaries and Translation Memories, or you get what you pay for, and updating Translation Memories and Glossaries would cost you extra. Their relationship with their vendors is often impersonal, from assigning the translators for the project via online check-out systems and having several PMs involved to having the vendors wait for months to get paid for their services. It is not unusual for large, “well-established” translation companies to be involved in lawsuits for constantly delaying payments to their vendors, or not paying at all. We hear about stories like this in the media all the time.

How much do you think the vendors care about the projects they work on? They might be well qualified and even produce high-quality translations, but will they care about the bigger picture? I don’t think so.

Is there an alternative?

We are not a big company by any definition, – we don’t have a fancy office, don’t print numerous copies of glossy brochures and definitely don’t employ an aggressive sales crew…

The most powerful endorsement is a satisfied client

We are a boutique translation company with a comfortable number of clients, and we thrive by using word of mouth to build our clientele. Many of our clients have worked with us for over a decade and they keep coming back and praising our services. They are also confident enough to recommend us to others. Does this mean that we are perfect? Of course not! We work with human translators, and humans occasionally make mistakes.

Client-centred personable project management

What makes us different is that we work hard to establish close and trusting relationships with our clients; we see ourselves not as contractors or outsourcers but rather as partners who work closely together with our clients on our shared projects.

This means that we listen very attentively to you as we identify your specific requirements, since we know very well that no two clients are ever the same. We are here to help at every step of the way and want to make you feel welcome and cared for. You will have one point of contact available to you at any time, attentive to details and responsive. We are transparent and we work with you, not for you to build that trusting relationship so you feel comfortable voicing any concerns during our collaboration so that together we can refine our work. And if there is an issue, we will make it our priority to resolve it the best way possible.

Personalized teams of hand-picked translators for each client

We build our working teams specifically for your company and we are continuously learning more and more about your product, eventually becoming experts in your industry just like you are. Because we see ourselves as your strategic partner and valuable contributors to the success of your organization, our translators not only are attentive to detail but also see the big picture and larger purpose of their work. Our hand-picked translators know that they are valued here at Art One and they are in for the long haul.

Absolutely no shortcuts when it comes to quality!

We are not after quantity and don’t aim for a large number of clients; in fact, we will probably never have hundreds of clients, but we are proud of being boutique, approachable, and on personable terms with our clients, including a few high-profile ones. At Art One we don’t take shortcuts when it comes to quality, and our amazing team of talented translators, interpreters, DTP specialists, transcribers, voice artists and media engineers, along with caring and responsive project managers, have worked very hard over the years to earn our trusted reputation.

We welcome companies who value such partnership to join our exclusive clientele. Our promise to you is that at Art One you will be getting personalized attention, no matter how big or small your project is because it will be our very own project each time, all the time.

Art One Translations specializes in technical translations and software localization and is an expert in high-calibre, complex, multilingual projects.

To learn more, or to request a free quote, please contact us.

We look forward to learning about your specific needs and discussing how we can add value to your work.

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