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Monica Basting photoDid you know that the cost of acquiring a new client is five to seven times greater than the cost of retaining an existing one? While it clearly makes good commercial sense to look after clients well, sales activities are more often focused on winning new business and client care is not always given the attention that it deserves.

However, research on client care and client satisfaction within the professional services sector reveals that translation companies should never forget that ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’.

Keeping them happy

Even if you are a small business with limited resources, you should have a rudimentary client care programme in place. The baseline for this will be rigorous client service standards aimed at giving clients a responsive, reliable, efficient and courteous service at all times. The next priority is to enable and encourage regular client feedback. Your programme should also include client activities such as seminars, newsletters and white papers to provide useful and relevant business information.

Good client care should make it easier for you to sell additional services at little opportunity cost to your business and encourage clients to become your advocates in the marketplace. It will also help to identify at an early stage any clients who are silently unhappy with your services so that you can take pre-emptive or remedial action.

Did you know?
  • Only four per cent of clients with problems actually complain
  • Clients with a problem will eventually tell nine other people
  • Very satisfied clients tell five other people about their good experience
  • It's not good enough to be ‘good’ - clients who rate their suppliers with a 'good' score are six times more likely to change than clients who rate them as ‘excellent’

Surveys and audits

Each year we undertake a number of satisfaction surveys and quality audits. These include client satisfaction surveys for both our 'commissioning' clients and local approval contacts; creativity and quality audits of a wide selection of translations; and even linguistic supplier surveys to monitor what our translator network think of us as clients. Together these help to give us a 360° perspective of our performance as well as demonstrating our genuine commitment to providing high standards of translations and service. We always use independent consultants and assessors to undertake the research and the techniques include a mix of face- to-face and telephone interviews that allow the interviewer to probe into the underlying reasons behind answers and give the interviewee the opportunity to discuss any difficult issues with an impartial third party.

We also use email questionnaires and automated online surveys for larger scale research where we are seeking quantitative evidence of improvement. For the creativity and quality audits, the independent assessors undertake detailed scrutiny of completed translations in around 40 languages.

Adding value to our client relationships

As localization can be a complex process - particularly when it involves file engineering, multiple language typesetting, and interactive and online media such as DVDs and websites - we try to keep our clients up to date with relevant technical and strategic developments. These include new content management technologies, translation and workflow tools, design and internationalization guidelines, market trends, and strategies for developing global websites and other multilingual communications collateral.

We invite our clients to attend web seminars (webinars) from the comfort of their own desk and we send them white papers on topical issues and newsletters with client stories and service developments to aid their understanding of how to achieve effective multicultural communication.

We never forget that, while we are only ever as good as our last project, our goal is to build long-term relationships with our clients that are rooted in trust, respect and understanding of each other's business.

This article was originally published in Communicate - the Association of Translation Companies' newsletter -

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