Guest post: Adapting to our new reality

Welcome back to our guest post series!

Today, please welcome Virginia Katsimpiri, Greek translator, who will talk about how to turn your translation business into an online model.

Welcome, Virginia!

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

How to turn our translation business model into a virtual one so as to adapt to the new reality

When I was creating the slides for my presentation for the BP20 Conference on client-retention strategies and how to turn your existing clients into loyal promoters of your business previously this year, I could not have predicted the coronavirus crisis that would hit us all. As a result, I had to adapt the content of my speech to the current situation, which inspired me to think of methods of turning the strategies I was going to teach into online ones. And eventually our business model into a virtual one. 

Before getting into this article’s topic, I would like to mention that we, as translators and language professionals, are lucky enough to be able to practice our profession even the current situation or in the event of such a coronavirus crisis.

And I know you might be thinking, “What about us who work in-house, who are interpreters, or who are even legal translators that cannot go to the court under such circumstances?” Well, I repeat: We are lucky enough to be able to turn our business model into a virtual one, work as freelancers with clients from all over the world, or even as employees with teleworking.

I know that too many translators put all their efforts towards optimizing their sales funnels and forget about what comes after a customer makes a purchase. 

Did you know that gaining new clients is 25% more expensive than retaining your existing ones?

Here are some excellent strategies you can use not only to make loyal promoters out of your clients BUT also to turn your translation business model into a virtual one:

Engage with Your Clients Online

When you interact with clients online and show them that you value their opinion, your customers will think positively about your brand. 

This has become easier than ever especially nowadays that the whole world is connected online.

Online presence
With your website and your online presence through your social media accounts, you can interact with customers anytimeanywhere.

Direct contact
Reach customers by directly engaging with them. 
Use social media to publish posts that start a conversation, or questions that encourage customers to share their opinion. 

I totally recommend you respond directly to your customers’ comments, posts, questions, and even tweets.

High-quality content
It is very important to create high-quality content that is useful and informative for your ideal clients. They’ll appreciate your publishing content they can use, leading them to share it with their own network.

Diverse content
In order to get the best possible results, you can publish different forms of content, such as articles, videos, gifs, infographics. That way you can reach different audiences no matter what type of content they look for.

Interactive website
Set up an interactive website where your ideal clients can interact with you. How can you create an interactive website? It is simpler than you think: You can add a review section, a Q&A page, why not a live chat? All of these ways are effective when it comes to boosting your interactivity.

Hold Online Events 

One of the best ways to spread word of mouth about your business is by setting up events. Many colleagues among us know that very well and have been practicing that method for many years.

They can give you a chance to connect one-on-one with your potential customers.

The best way to have better results is to keep in mind your target market. 

Tip 1: Your clients will enjoy an event even more if it has content that fits their own unique needs and interests.

Tip 2: Your clients can help your brand reach a larger audience more effectively than you could on your own. 

Tip 3: In order to spur more participation, you can offer small giveaways for anyone who posts or tweets about the event. It can be a discount in project, or a printed calendar with your logo, for example.

Many of you have been asking me what those events could be. I always encourage my mentees to be creative and resourceful. For example, I started hosting lives on my translation business Facebook account every Monday to discuss issues my clients would be interested in.

Provide First-Class Customer Service Online

Customer service horror stories can spread in no time. It has been shown that complaints about a company’s customer service have twice as much reach as positive stories, on average. Can you imagine that?

Sometimes you cannot avoid complaints, but you can handle them the right way so each and every one of your clients feels like a priority. 

Personalised communication
Start by genuinely talking with your customers and addressing them by name. A personalized message is much more effective at engaging the recipient and building brand loyalty.

If there is a problem with one of your clients and/or projects, be respectful as you take steps to solve it. 

Valuable feedback
The more comfortable you make the customer feel, the more likely they are to appreciate your customer service and provide valuable feedback that helps you improve your business.

Always aim to go above and beyond in terms of service. Instead of learning about issues when customers complain, follow up with every customer to make sure they’re satisfied with their purchase. How you can do this? 

A very common and simple way is to use a free app/software/tool to create a survey online asking your clients to give you feedback about your work. You can send it as soon as you deliver a project. It’s an online process that builds trust between you and your clients, creating a long-lasting relationship with them. That is also a great way to ask for a testimonial that you can share later on your website or social media accounts.

Offer Freebies and Special Deals also Online 

As a great tactic, you can consider sending occasional gifts to your clients. It doesn’t have to be anything major – most of people will perceive it as a nice gesture.

I will never forget a very nice purple notebook I got from Caroline last year with her logo on it in Bologna during the BP 19 Conference as a nice gesture and also a great marketing strategy. 😉 I still have it at my office!

Customer loyalty programs and referral programs are beneficial for your business and build brand loyalty.

  • Loyalty programs lead to more sales and reward clients. You can offer a discount, for example, to loyal clients.
  • Referral programs help you build a larger customer base while rewarding customers who spread the word about your business. You can offer a percentage of the earnings to the person who refer you to potential clients, or hire a salesperson to do this professionally. 

Unexpected extras, even if it’s something as simple as an email with a discount offer or a personal letter, give customers a positive impression of your business. They’re also an easy way to keep your brand on your customers’ minds.

Final Thoughts

Sales are the lifeblood of your translation business but focusing entirely on your sales means you’re only considering short-term goals without seeing the bigger picture.

Nowadays, especially during this lockdown, we have the perfect occasion to start implementing the above-mentioned strategies to attract projects, if not now in the near future. This is the right time to be present online and remind our ideal clients about our brand.

To build a strong brand that continues growing, you need to develop a connection that makes customers want to promote your brand for you. How cool would that be?

 You can connect online through your web presence and with events. Make sure that you provide excellent service and the occasional bonuses that consistently make your customers happy.

Let me know if you have any more ideas that could help us transform our business model into a virtual one.

If you still struggle with finding clients, getting more projects and creating a steady workflow, I’ve got you covered: I created a 90’ free masterclass to teach all strategies that I’ve used and that helped me expand my business over the years, and triple my income over the last few years.

Register for free here now! It’s tomorrow, May 28, 5 pm CET!

I created this masterclass especially for these times of crisis we’re all experiencing.

About the author

Virginia Katsimpiri is an English & French to Greek Certified Translator, with more than 13 years of full-time translation experience in the following fields: law, finance & aeronautics/defence industry. She holds an ΜA in Translation & an Executive MBA. As a certified translator and coach, Virginia teaches and practices translator mentoring methods. For her MBA dissertation Virginia ran a qualitative research study on “Client Acquisition Strategies for Language Professionals”, while she helps other translators to attract clients and build their profitable business.
You can visit her website or LinkedIn | Contact: info@vmentoring.com & mail@virginiakatsimpiri.com

Learning from customer experience

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

As translators/interpreters, we are service providers. All companies/brands that sell services/products also provide an experience to their customers, and this experience starts from the very beginning, even before prospects contact us, when they try to find us or someone who can provide what they need. And it ends way after the product/service is delivered, but it doesn’t necessarily need to, that’s also the point.

As a customer, I love great experiences! I easily become loyal to brands that go beyond and provide me the best service possible. Likewise, I easily let go of brands who let me down somehow. And when there is reasonable competition, even the smallest detail can make a difference. As customers, we have a lot to learn also as entrepreneurs. After all, learning from mistakes (and successes) of others is better than making our own, right?

When we need something, a service or a product, we are vulnerable (or at least control freaks like me are). Leaving our comfort zones is not easy. We have to look for someone who can provide us something we need with quality, a reasonable price, reliability, and, most of the times, we do not have a clue as to what this means. If the service provider makes us feel at ease, comfortable and happy with their service, then we can easily trust them. If, on the other hand, they make our lives even more difficult than they already are, the entire experience becomes a nightmare.

Here are three real-life scenarios that I’ve been through and from which I learned a lot!

Scenario 1: Post office

Important fact: here in Brazil, mailmen usually don’t work on Sundays.

Another important fact: as you might all be aware, Brazil is not exactly a safe country. And I live by myself at a house, as opposed to an apartment, that is usually safer.

At 9 a.m. on a Sunday, the doorbell rings. I was still sleeping, because I had gone out the night before and arrived really late. I answer the intercom. A man on the other side identifies himself as the mailman. Still sleepy, I think, “The mailman, on a Sunday?” I ask him whom the package is for (something I always do, to check the person is indeed the mailman and the package is indeed intended for me, since other people have lived in my house before and their mail still keep coming). He confirms my name, in a rather impatient voice, probably noticing I’m reluctant. I think, “Ok, that is information people can easily get ahold of. This is still weird.” I tell him I find that strange, “I’m sorry, sir, but what guarantee do I have you are indeed the mailman, on a Sunday morning?” He becomes quite mad, goes away and leaves me speaking to myself over the intercom.

Later on, I find out they had been working on Sundays because they were late on deliveries. But I learned this from someone else, because the mailman himself didn’t even care to try to explain that to me.

I tried to track the package and see where it had been taken to, with no success. I got yelled at over the phone and hung up on a couple of times, so I just gave up.

Of course mailmen know they don’t usually work on Sundays. The guy was probably so pissed he had to work on a Sunday morning that he simply didn’t care. No empathy at all, no trying to understand my position, no respect, just plain rudeness.

Takeaway: We often complain that clients say “translator,” when they mean “interpreter,” or that they want everything for yesterday, and so on. And many of us are even rude or have no patience at all with people that are not from our area and that have misleading ideas about it. How would they know? It’s our role to be patient and try to explain, in a way they understand, how things work. Whining, complaining and having lack of patience with people are not the solution.

Scenario 2: Landline technical support

My landline was silent. I had no signal to make calls, but I ran some quick and simple tests and found out it was probably the device itself, not the connection. I took it to a place specialized in technical phone support. The girl ran not one, but several tests, in different power supplies, using different wires, until she found what the problem was.

This is it, plain and simple, right? You are probably thinking, “C’mon, that’s her job.” Yes, it is, I agree. However, unfortunately, people simply don’t do their jobs anymore. They simply don’t care. What I expected: her trying once or twice, at the most, and giving up, saying it was broken and that I needed to buy a new device. Instead, I was really impressed at how much she cared and tried to find what the problem was.

Takeaway: Are we doing our jobs? My clients are frequently ecstatic with me for just doing my job: delivering on time, sometimes, if possible, even earlier, doing a good job, etc. Basic things we are expected to do, but that, apparently, most translators don’t. Is the competition fierce? Are there a lot of translators out there? Yes and yes. However, what’s the quality of the service they provide? Delivering on time is Translation 101, Lesson 1. If, apart from that, you go a bit beyond and try to deliver earlier whenever you can, believe me, you win the client. Go the extra mile. Be the solution your client needs and, if you can’t solve their problem yourself, be proactive and try to find someone who can. Clients usually don’t have a clue about the translation world. We do.

Scenario 3: Nike store

I love Nike products. In my opinion, they are high-quality and worth every penny. I still wear clothes that are more than five years old and that are still in good shape. Ok, so I am already a fan of the brand, fine.

They have a cool store in São Paulo (I live in a town about two hours from the big city). The last time I went there I was amazed! As I was taking a look at the store and choosing what I would try on, the salesperson was preparing the dressing room with other suggestions of things I could like based on my choices. When I arrived in the dressing room, they had even written my name one the door! Maybe you wouldn’t care less about it, but I do. Who doesn’t like to feel special?

Takeaway: Each client is special in their own way and should be treated accordingly. We should make our clients feel they are unique, because they are. Pamper them whenever and however you can. I send personalized handwritten Christmas cards with a branded little something every end of the year to all my clients. I also send branded handwritten Thank You notes to clients and partners or whomever I feel like thanking. Whatever you do, make sure all your clients feel that you care about each of them and that they are special to you. This simple attitude may be what differentiates you from other equally great translators and what makes your clients not even think twice before requesting your services.

A key aspect to a successful customer experience (and to everything in life, let’s face it) is empathy. Wearing our customers’ shoes is essential to understanding their needs and providing the best service possible. It’s like that old saying by Confucius goes, “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.” And vice-versa. It’s as simple as that. No need to overcomplicate or overthink things. No secret formula. No million-dollar strategy.

What have you learned from your own customer experiences?

On speaking the client’s language (not the opposite)

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Photo by Alexandra on Unsplash

I changed my bank accounts – moved to another bank. There I was, at my new bank, signing the endless sheets of contract papers while the manager was explaining how they worked using banking jargon. Besides feeling extremely mad I was losing precious working hours because the manager did not have everything ready, as she said she would, I felt lost a couple of times because I did not understand the specific terms she used. And I felt embarrassed for having to ask her what they meant. When I finally understood, I started asking myself why she wouldn’t use another term, a more commonly-used one with exactly the same meaning.

I struggle to understand financial and banking operations. Whenever I have to deal with related matters, I postpone it to the last possible minute. And when I finally have to take the bulls by the horn, I feel bored and petrified I might do something wrong I may regret later. So why make my life easier and use lay terms if they can show off their banking expertise, right?

I use every single experience as a customer to learn how to deal with my own clients. If I like something, I try to adapt it to my translation business. If not, I reflect to see if I do the same with my clients and, if so, I immediately try to change it.

Do I want my client to feel the way I feel when I have to deal with things I don’t understand?

We should always keep in mind that if a client is coming to us it means they want their problem solved. It doesn’t matter how we do it and the terms we use to describe it. In order to win the client, we need to be as straightforward and clear as possible, and make them feel relieved their problem will be solved according to their needs, so they can go on and worry about other things. We should try to make their lives as easier as possible.

On this note, is it really that important that the client knows the difference between a translation and an interpreting service? Will it really change your entire life to “teach” the client that you are an interpreter, not a translator, for Pete’s sake? In Portuguese, we have different terms for translation into our mother tongue and into our B language (the latter is called versão). Do my Brazilian clients need to know this difference?

Let’s leave our ego aside for a moment and take the focus off us and make it on the client.

First and foremost, we are the language experts – the main reason we should be the ones to speak our client’s language, not the opposite. Secondly, we will be the ones to handle their (written/spoken) words – another reason we should be the ones to speak their language, not the opposite. Thirdly, don’t you just love when, as a client, the service provider truly understands you and doesn’t vomit jargons you don’t understand?

Listen to your client, instead of focusing on “educating” them or “teaching” them. Try to truly understand their needs and talk to them in a language they understand. Do your homework and research more information about them to get to know them even further and understand their language and their world. Always remember the client is king/queen.