Ben is at the start of a business trip, and he is nervous. In his hands is an inflight magazine with an article on the wonderful attractions of Hong Kong – dragon boat races, eat-all-you-can dim sum, and world renowned tailors. He should be looking forward to having a great time in this exotic city. But, instead, he is thinking about the different things that could go wrong.
Ben’s concerns are not completely unfounded. He has only been with his present company for two years, but he has already committed several cultural faux pas on similar business trips. In Iran, he gave the president of a partner company the thumbs up, an insult that almost cost his company the contract, and in Thailand he caused offence by patting a child on the head. How was he supposed to know that they believed that the soul resided on top of the head?
And all this before they even got to the tricky business of localization and the translation of documents and other assets. Only last month they put out an instruction manual for a gantry that told engineers to insert one pin instead of pin one. The result? An injured employee, three tons of damaged Norwegian Salmon, and a factory that smelled very fishy. Fishy. That was how he starting to regard his current localization service provider. They had promised him a cheap localization consulting solution, but so far they had cost him far more than his company had paid for their services.
A localization service provider should be capable of consistent, accurate translation.
He didn’t expect them to warn him that in Brazil the OK sign was the same as the middle finger, or that in Russia an even number of flowers would be translated as “I hope you die.” But it would be nice if they could spare him the expense and humiliation caused by mistranslated documents. Ben wished that he had someone who could reduce the risk of misunderstanding. Someone with real experience in translation and the regions into which his company wanted to expand. Someone who has the cultural sensitivity to manage the nuances so important in intercultural communication. He wished he could outsource to reliable localization consultants.
His current LSP was definitely not that someone. Before the problem with the gantry assembly instructions, there was the issue with their German website, where ‘logistics services’ somehow got translated into the German words for ‘ballistics services.’ And before that there was the Chinese TV ad in which a Western businessman referred to a Chinese businesswoman as “Miss”, a word which by itself means prostitute. His company’s relationship with the LSP had been fraught with several other such snafus.
Effective localization depends on a solid relationship between an LSP and its client.
And therein lay the root of the problem: it had not been much of a relationship. Localization consulting depends on open and honest communication between an LSP and its client, and their communication had been anything but that. Their localization service provider had made no attempt to understand the company’s needs and had done nothing to guide them in their localization efforts. If the LSP had been more concerned about the success of his company, they would have done a better job of ensuring that their documents were designed to get the right response in the countries where they were released.
A quality localization service provider doesn’t only ensure that documents are accurately translated.
It should also offer end-to-end project management to ensure absolute consistency, and employs strategies to keep costs down. It knows that no two clients are the same and that these strategies need to be tailored for every business. We at Rubric do just this. We take every aspect of our clients’ needs into consideration when offering localization consulting and make sure that assets are translated with their goals in mind. We offer a level of translation accuracy that is only possible when you employ translators and software developers native to your target regions, and offer the kind of valuable advice that can be given only by those who have global reach. Learn more about our localization consulting services, here
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