Branching out to new markets is exciting. It means reaching new potential customers, clients, and partners you may not have been able to target in the past. However, it also comes with immense challenges, especially if you’re crossing new linguistic and cultural barriers.
People want you to meet them where they are—communicate in their mother tongue. And, too often, businesses take this step lightly. They assume a low-stakes option, like tasking translation to a multilingual employee or outsourcing to a contractor on an as-needed basis, will suffice.
At LinguaLinx, we know firsthand that working with a quality Language Services Provider (LSP) like us is the better approach. But we also know that many companies have their doubts. So, in this article, we’ll take a look at two of the biggest pros of hiring an LSP. We’ll also consider two of the potential cons—and why they might not be as much of a hindrance as they seem.
Pro: Unmatched Experience and Quality Assurance
The best language service providers are large organizations staffed with language experts offering years of experience translating, interpreting, localizing, and otherwise communicating across and between countless languages. Expertise is more than fluency in a given language, written or spoken. It requires a deep, intimate knowledge of multiple languages’ nuances.
When you’re working with an LSP, you can be certain that the translation or interpretation you receive is 100% accurate. Professionals never run the risk of common translation mistakes, like passing word-for-word transliteration off as localization or missing (or misusing) connotations.
LSPs are staffed with professionals whose training goes far beyond conversational fluency.
This means they—we—understand how to get both your literal message and the underlying meaning across in a way that untrained or less experienced translators simply cannot.
Spotlight: Worry-Free Communication, Across Languages
When working with a contractor or other non-LSP translation solution, guarantees can be hard to come by. If you’re not already fluent in the languages you want to communicate in, how can you be sure your translator, interpreter, or localizer is transmitting your message accurately?
The best LSPs ensure that confidence by complying with international standards.
Namely, the International Organization for Standardization’s Technical Committee’s ISO 17100 governs qualifications and process requirements to ensure effective translation. ISO 17100 compliance means that every individual working at or for an LSP is vetted and certified.
It also means you’re 100% in the clear of applicable regulations, legislation, and industry codes.
The bottom line: working with a quality LSP means having access to a dynamic team of qualified professionals with experience working with businesses of every size and across every industry.
However, that same dynamism could also be a potential concern…
Con: Inconsistency Across Multiple Inputs
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of consistency in brand voice and messaging. So, it might seem prudent to have one person in charge of translating or interpreting content rather than a whole team. Working with an LSP might seem like putting too many cooks in the kitchen.
The argument goes: trusting an individual vendor or multilingual employee with translating your company’s messaging would help to ensure that all communications are consistent.
However, this is simply not true. Consider the following downsides of using a single translator:
- Depending on how much needs to be translated, they might not have the bandwidth
- An employee may leave the company, or a contractor could cease your engagement
- Expanding into additional languages may require another individual, or multiple
In any of these cases, any consistency you are able to achieve could be overridden overnight by an immediate need to replace or supplement the work of an individual translator or interpreter.
Counterpoint: Bigger Projects Require Bigger Teams
Even if using an individual translator or interpreter did provide consistency, it stands to reason that their capacity would fall short of what a larger agency can handle, often by quite a bit. Consider the following examples where the scope of work far exceeds what an individual translator could do:
- Translating 94,000 words of highly technical material from one language into another—in five days—for a Danish computer science and IT service provider.
- Translating 2.4 million words from 2000 individual documents into three target languages—in just 20 days (120 thousand per day)—for a cloud services provider.
When a project scales up quickly, or is massive to begin with, you’ll need a quality LSP. On a closely related note, working with an LSP also covers a greater range of language needs.
Pro: Comprehensiveness of Language Services
There are over 7,000 languages spoken across the world today, per Ethnologue. You might not need to communicate in all of them, but working with an LSP gives you access to a larger share.
And in some cases, you do need to account for the largest possible number of languages.
Organizations in the public sector, and any that work closely with it, often need to account for a wider range of languages and cultures than businesses reaching out to new markets. Every stakeholder matters, and all practiced languages need to be accounted for in good faith.
Take, for example, the public school district of Salt Lake City, which caters to families representing over 100 unique language traditions. In 2017, the local Board of Education was at a crossroads, struggling to account for all of this diversity with individual translators and interpreters. Working with an LSP—with LinguaLinx—has empowered 23,000 students’ access to quality education.
On another level altogether, working with a quality LSP also means you have greater access to a wider variety of language services. Often, translation is just the beginning of what you’ll need.
Spotlight: Greater Flexibility Across All Communications
A major difference between LSPs and individual translators is that translation is often where the latter’s services end, but they are just where an LSP’s begins.
Beyond translation, quality LSPs also offer other crucial services, such as:
- Localization – Optimizing a message to the cultural context of a new language or location—including history, social norms, and interests of the target population.
- Interpretation – Translating spoken language into another (including Sign Language), either simultaneously or consecutively, and in real-time or from pre-recorded audio.
And even within translation, LSPs offer a greater range of practical solutions. For example, many LSPs offer tiers of translation that include varying degrees of Machine Translation (MT) and human editing. There are also considerations for different mediums—translating websites, for example, requires a different skill set and greater sensitivity to localization than other translation projects.
With an LSP, you’ll have coverage for any language need, in just about any language.
Con: Potentially Higher Up-Front Costs
At LinguaLinx, we believe wholeheartedly that working with a quality LSP will provide you with better translations, localizations, interpretations, and other intra-linguistic needs. However, there’s no getting around the fact that, on balance, it will tend to be more expensive than options like DIY translation or working with a smaller-scale language service contractor.
How much do LSP providers’ services cost? The price depends on a few key considerations:
- The type, depth, and complexity of translation needed
- The languages and cultures you’re translating between
- The turnaround time required—or project duration
- The per-word or hourly rate charged for services
Across all of these factors, a larger LSP is going to charge you more than a smaller contractor will. And outsourcing at all is going to be more expensive than adding translation to an existing employee’s responsibilities (if you even can) or using a free service such as Google translate (setting quality aside).
But here’s the thing—a lot of this is sticker shock related to the immediately apparent up-front costs. You might find that pursuing a seemingly low-cost option winds up being more expensive.
Counterpoint: The Hidden costs of DIY Translation
Translation, localization, and interpretation are hard work. They’re expensive services because getting communication right the first time can save your organization from lost business due to customer misunderstanding. It can also prevent reputational damage from a poor localization that misses contextual or connotative meanings from seemingly innocuous words or phrases.
These kinds of mistakes are easy to make; some of the biggest companies in the world have lost their message (and profits) in translation. Consider HSBC’s “Assume Nothing” campaign, which was poorly translated as “Do Nothing”—and triggered a $10 million rebrand back in 2009.
Ultimately, it can wind up being far more expensive to opt for low-cost and likely low-quality translation, localization, or interpretation solutions. An LSP is more cost-effective long-term.
Get a Quote for Language Services
As you can see, there are definitely valid reasons to seek out alternatives to using an LSP for translation, interpretation, and localization. But in the long run, any potential concerns you have (cost or working with a larger team) are outweighed by the benefits of LSPs’ professionalism.
Here at LinguaLinx, we’re an LSP that’s worked hand-in-hand with over 1500 unique clients in our 20+ years of existence. Working with us, you won’t ever have to worry about how your message is getting across, no matter which language(s) you’re translating to or from.
And, with our ISO 17100 compliance, you know you’re in good hands.
Get in touch today to see how we can meet your language needs!
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