Customer loyalty in the translation industry: keeping customers and keeping them happy

06,Feb,2017

Have you ever seen an offer for new customers only and wondered why you, as a long-standing, loyal customer, don’t get the same benefits? Aggressive sales tactics and growth strategies often leave customer loyalty at the back of businesses’ minds, much to the annoyance of existing customers. But as companies take a step back to look at the bigger picture, striking the balance between growth and retention has become key. As part of the customer retention movement I’ve come to understand the foundations that underpin the goal of genuine customer loyalty in the translation industry and here, I take a look at some of them.

Photo credit: Lisa Stevens, Flickr

Price isn’t a standalone factor

Current economic climates have driven customers to be ever more price-conscious in their buying decisions and it can often seem that pricing always wins hands down over time and quality. As judicious as translation buyers are in the thought they give to pricing, however, they also pay great mind to the benefits gained from established relationships, existing translations and the know-how that both Account Managers and linguists have accrued on their work. Fortunately for Language Service Providers (LSPs), most customers are not so fickle as to focus solely on price and instead appreciate the value of consolidated, continuous work with an LSP, including the cost and quality benefits that an existing relationship can offer thanks to Translation Memory technology. If translation industry employees can demonstrate this value to customers who don’t recognise it themselves, they will be one step closer to ensuring genuine customer loyalty.

Trust is built upon promises which are kept and delivered

There is no better currency than honesty and this rings true in all sectors in that nobody appreciates broken promises or unfulfilled SLAs. In the translation industry it is no different, and LSPs ought to be realistic in their endeavours: don’t promise your customer the Earth if you simply can’t deliver it. Not only will this avoid disappointment and disruption at the customer’s end, but it provides a platform on which you can potentially go above and beyond their expectations. Here at The Translation People we acknowledge that striving for the best quality, price, and turnaround times is key, but we aim to encourage customer loyalty by being honest with our clients about what we can realistically deliver: if we quote a turnaround time of 4 – 5 working days, you can rest assured that we’ll meet that lead time, delivering early without compromising quality when we can. Anything above and beyond what has been agreed will come as a welcome surprise, allowing LPSs to establish themselves as a rational, reliable supplier and ultimately one that customers will want to hang on to.

Personalisation is key

Categorisation, automation, segmentation: in an age when efforts are being made to streamline processes to the nth degree, a one-size-fits-all approach just won’t cut it in the translation industry. The unchartered territory of translation alone is enough to make customers hope for a personalised service, and direct communications such as phone calls and meetings can avoid potential pitfalls during the translation process. If we at The Translation People have a request to translate a manual, it wouldn’t be unusual for us to strike up a conversation about whether the company has in-country offices or native salespeople, if it’s going to print, whether they need a formatted version and whether this is the first translation of their manual. Only through genuine dialogue and a real interest in the customer can you give them the best result for their needs, creating loyal customers who come back time and time again.

There are countless other points to consider when trying to encourage customer loyalty – from patience to precision to being personable – but we’re interested in hearing what you think. What experiences have you had, either as an employee in the translation industry, or as someone who uses translation services?