Welcome to Client Talk, where we chat with people who buy (or should buy) language services. When is professional translation worth it? And if a client doesn’t buy, why not? How do they handle language needs instead?
By chatting with current and prospective clients outside of a sales environment, we hope our industry will be able to better identify the true motivation behind buyer decisions. And who knows? Maybe we’ll expose common misconceptions about our industry as we go along.
Nenad Ćuk, cofounder and CEO at CroatiaTech, a technology development shop. CroatiaTech has offices in Split, Croatia, and Salt Lake City, Utah. “We are a premium solution when it comes to outsourcing technology work by US, Canadian, French, Irish, Italian, German, Australian and UK companies,” says Ćuk. “With solutions in software development, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, engineering, virtual reality (VR), custom web development, digital marketing and graphic design, we attract partnerships from companies that want to achieve more with their budget.”
“Our company’s language is English,” Ćuk says — but Croatian, German and Italian are commonly needed: 20-30% of company communications (both sent and received) are not in English. “Croatian documents are one-third of that figure.” In most cases, these files consist of emails and proposals. Every once in a while, a contract is needed for the final client negotiation step. For languages other than English, “Initial emails usually set the basis that we can be trusted with the different languages, and then we try to switch to English whenever possible.”
What is the budget?
“Counting last year and this year, we spent below $10,000.”
How important does the client say professional language services areon a scale of 1-5?
Ćuk says it’s a 5: “We deal with all levels of business, but with most of them you get one chance to impress and to close the sale, so it’s very important to us when dealing with companies outside of our immediate territory or language familiarity. This is especially true when it comes to legal, as one mistake can be costly.”
The client’s solution
“We don’t generally buy translations, as we have staff that is bilingual in one or more of those languages, both stateside as well as in Europe. There are a couple of companies in Salt Lake City that do great translations, but sooner or later we knew we’d need people who can handle it themselves.” The client has therefore dropped back from outsourcing to a language service provider and is relying more on in-house staff.
The main reason the company stopped working with agencies, according to Ćuk, is that “we needed things faster than they were able to deliver sometimes, and since we realized that there will be a need for this long term, it just made sense to start looking for a more permanent internal solution.”
The company hasn’t ruled out working with translators entirely: “I would continue using agencies if it [were] one-off cases here and there, but if a business is going to have a long-term translation need, it’s better to start looking for an individual who also speaks that language.” Additionally, the “bilingual members of our team were needed for other duties; their knowledge of a second or third language just helped make our decision easier. We don’t need to pay by the document or the word any longer; we’re now able to have someone in-house.”
When professional translators are still needed
“Our main criteria is the importance of a document. If it’s early stage correspondence or proposal work that is sent over, we trust our team; same would be for most project work that is not client-facing, as the end client usually double checks that. However, when it comes to high importance documents, where no mistakes or errors can be afforded, then we go the certified translation route as it gives us more protection and minimizes risk.”