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Peer to peer: managing agency clients

Surrey Translation Bureau (STB) has been offering high-quality translation services to a wide variety of clients, including corporations, public organisations, other translation agencies and individuals, for over 35 years. Even though the basic process remains the same in each case – providing a quote, producing the translation and delivering the translated text – there are also some significant differences when it comes to discussions about the project, the services offered and the end purpose of the translation.

We’ve previously looked at the process of translating for individual clients, and in this blog we will give an insight into managing agency clients.

Translated text types for agency clients

Text translated for agency clients

Unlike corporate clients, agencies represent a number of their own end-clients (corporations, public organisations and professional bodies) whose language service needs have grown too complex to handle in-house.

Depending on the business model and setup, agency clients can either specialise, say, in medicine or manufacturing, or work across a range of subject areas. They will likewise either focus on a narrow set of languages, such as Nordic languages, or strive to incorporate as many tongues into their repertoire as possible.

The projects they work on vary day to day ranging from run-of-the-mill translations of a few pages into a single language, to volumes upon volumes of intricate documentation being translated into a dozen languages or more with ongoing updates, partial deliveries, quality checks, revisions, etc.

Communication with agency clients

Above all, agencies are themselves language service providers which makes our dialogue quite distinct.

For one, they are very well aware of the industry and know first-hand what goes into producing quality translation. Furthermore, like STB, they have their own Quality Assurance (QA) procedures in place and work to strict quality standards to ensure their clients’ satisfaction and continued business.

This puts us on an equal footing and facilitates communication, cooperation, and mutual understanding.

Unlike other types of clients, agencies tend to be quite consistent with their workload and we are in touch with project managers (PMs) from our main client agencies almost daily. This helps in building a rapport that is hard to sustain with more sporadic contacts. The fact that we share concerns and work towards similar goals only reinforces that bond.

Culture of cooperation

Cooperation with agency clients

“Our partnership with Surrey Translation Bureau has been very successful in that we can rely on them for small and big projects alike. They provide excellent service, and their flexibility has allowed our workflows such as this one to become a success.”

Luckily, STB has been working with agencies for more than three decades and in doing so has garnered extensive experience and an excellent culture of cooperation with language providers of all imaginable scales, from small teams formed by translators outsourcing their excess workloads to global giants representing some of the biggest names in international business.

This isn’t to say that all is hugs and high-fives when it comes to working with agencies. A good deal of stress is often part of the game, particularly for those workload spikes that are characteristic of bigger end-clients who have enough clout to push for unreasonable turnarounds with confusing instructions and materials poorly suited for linguistic work.

Of course, the project managers on the client agencies’ side are the first line of defence against this and take the brunt of it, but there’s only so much they can mitigate before they get overwhelmed and things start spilling over to their suppliers.

This is where our experience working with agencies and larger clients comes in, allowing us to take reasonable care of even the trickiest of requests and produce quality work on time and to project specification.

Efficient project management

One of the key strengths of STB when it comes to scenarios like this is the way our project management team work: every project manager can rely on members of their immediate team to step in and provide assistance when things start getting out of hand. This makes for a better workload distribution, which in turn enables our PMs to handle complicated tasks in a more level-headed and consistent fashion.

Under normal circumstances, however, work progresses in an efficient manner along well-defined lines, which is again the product of consistent cooperation between language industry professionals.

Some of the most interesting and complex projects we work on come from our agency partners, and we are always happy to offer our services to agencies large and small.

Written by Gregory Koltashev

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