User feedback — direct information from those who use your product — is both the most important aspect of any good methodology and also key to any localization effort. Contrary to popular belief, the most relevant indicator of localization quality is rooted more in user experience than in any linguistic review.
Software-as-a-service providers were the first to notice that when users are satisfied with a specific product, they are likely to continue using it. Client retention is of utmost importance in Silicon Valley because renewals depend on it. The more customers trust a brand, the more loyal they become to it. If the aim is to provide customer satisfaction, why not cut out the middleman and ask the users themselves what they think about a product? If we want to mirror this concept in the language industry, why not ask users firsthand to truly gauge how they feel about our copy?
Similar to a marketing strategy, a user-feedback strategy should be carefully engineered to solicit feedback at the right time and be the least intrusive possible. Done correctly, it will indicate to the customer that you care about their satisfaction and want to continue to improve product and service.
Of course, there are many methods to collect data on customer satisfaction. It’s not always practical to send out detailed surveys, but it’s certainly a good idea to provide feedback functionality to report translation errors.
With an online product, user engagement can be another easy way to glimpse into the psyche of the customer. Page-visit frequency and time spent on a page can provide a better understanding of the amount of engagement a page is enjoying. If the results are significantly lower in one language vs a series of others, the first might have serious quality issues. Comparing conversion and bounce rates between languages can be very helpful as well. When in doubt about the preferred style in a language, why not run an A/B test to determine the style that fits the target market best?
While the “user feedback as QA” approach isn’t completely airtight, it does align with the agile product approach that many modern outfits are aspiring to. Traditional linguistic reviews are ultimately expensive and inherently subjective. To refocus review activities in the product UI rather than the localization tool makes for a more scalable solution that leverages the power of the end user.
Any localization effort is always going to support the higher goal of preventing customer churn. Creating a healthy relationship with customers is crucial for the growth of any client base. Calculating and analyzing customer satisfaction data can work wonders not only to improve user engagement but also to guarantee localization quality.
While academics might think they know better than your users linguistically, listening to customers’ opinions can play a vital role in validating the quality of your copy in any language. After all, the product exists to solve clients’ problems in the first place.