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The 5 best practices of top translation agencies…and 5 worst

There are plenty of translation agencies out there, you can’t deny that. But you also can’t deny the fact that it is fairly easy to tell a really good agency from a merely satisfactory one (not to mention one that you’ll never work with again). So, what makes the difference?

1. Working only with expert translators

Any translation agency can find a pack of random translators with no relevant education or experience, willing to work shutterstock_176647556for peanuts. But top translation agencies work only with highly specialised, expert translators who can deliver the best quality products.

2. Keeping translators satisfied

Sure, translation agencies can treat their translators like a cheap workforce, delaying payments ad infinitum, unreasonably cutting their invoices, losing cheques and making spelling mistakes in their names. All that will produce is an extraordinary amount of disappointment and disgust among translators. And it’s certainly not what the best translation agencies are doing. Happy translators are dedicated, passionate and loyal, and that leads to better results, less problems and limited mistakes.

3. Editing translations

Some of the bad translation agencies pay their translators poor rates and still trust that they proofread and edit their translations with a scrutinising eye, and therefore assume that the agency doesn’t have to bother with reading the text. (Why would they? The T&Cs clearly state that it’s the translator who is responsible for that!) Well, even the best agencies working with the most experienced and accurate translators do edit translations. And that’s one of the reasons why they are the best.

4. Having dedicated project managers

There’s nothing worse than a bored, indifferent project manager, who could happily change their job to anything else, if only given a chance to get out. Good agencies know that the key to the best quality of service is having dedicated in-house and management staff. In the end, project managers make jobs run smoothly, take care of timely delivery and keep customers happy.

5. Delivering the best customer service

Translation agencies aspiring to the title of ‘worst ever’ should aim for the following: miss deadlines; don’t reply to emails; never pick up the phone; never call back; mix files; lose texts; and always blame the customer. Customer service is probably the biggest difference between bad and good translation agencies. Top agencies know that delivering on time, replying to emails, picking up the phone, calling back, taking care of documents and being responsible is ethical, professional and profitable.

Marta Stelmaszak

Marta Stelmaszak is a Polish-English translator and interpreter with Project Management experience. She’s also a translation and communications consultant, a professional speaker and an author, helping freelance translators kick off their careers and grow their businesses. You can find her on Want Words, LinkedIn and Twitter @mstelmaszak.

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