Having your product, service or treatment offered across different demographics and across borders requires a series of translations, ensuring that end-users have all the information they need to use your offering with confidence. Many organizations simply aren’t equipped with the resources to perform in-house translations. And those that are may lack the ability to localize those translations to each of their global markets. They often leverage a Language Service Provider (LSP) to translate such content. To judge the quality of such translations and to provide feedback, clients typically have an In-Country Reviewer (ICR) to advise if cultural nuances for the target region have been addressed. ICRs are often employees that speak the language who are not professional linguists. The job positions of ICRs vary and often have competing work priorities as they are sometimes engineers, sales/marketing experts, tech support, clinical experts, etc.
based on our experience, here are the recurring opportunities in the ICR process:
• Making sure reviewers understand the same communication goals that the linguist is working toward. Having ICRs and linguists correspond can help make the process less daunting.
• The ICR must align with the company’s brand, voice, and vocabulary to ensure global consistency.
While it may seem like a straightforward process, there can easily be multiple rounds of feedback, delaying the final delivery. Therefore, there are a few key tips that all parties can take to align and ensure quality content.
identifying your goals, audiences, and style
When companies expand their global customer footprint, managing multiple requests in dozens of languages can prove to be strenuous. It is important to have a streamlined translations process to ensure smooth results. As companies diversify, it’s necessary to be aware of any specific needs and communicate them to your LSP.
• Meeting urgent deadlines and goals can prove to be difficult for reviewers when juggling a multistep back-and-forth translations process.
• What audience, or market, are you trying to reach? Some languages have more than one variety, e.g. European Spanish and Latin-American Spanish, so it is important to make that cultural and linguistic distinction.
• Assessing translation quality is to recognize the subjectivity of translations in order to assess quality objectively, meaning that first-person perspectives can skew results. Preferences during translation can be highly subjective. Such preferences can vary from person to person, brand to brand, region to region, language to language, and culture to culture. Having a brand style guide is key in aligning what your company voice should be.
• Is your company equipped with sufficient resources for ICR? The review process can be time-consuming and costly if using bilingual staff as opposed to a dedicated translation professional.
Let’s take a deeper dive on these tips:
preventing bottlenecks and meeting deadlines by aligning on a global process
There are all sorts of touchpoints, oversights, and checkpoints involved in translating content for other countries, especially given the nature of the medical and pharmaceutical industries. While this is intended to ensure product and service quality, the multiple hurdles can lead to a convoluted ICR process that makes it difficult to reach the next step.
For example, someone’s in charge of sending content to a translator, then following up on deadlines. Another person might be in charge of handing it off to an in-country reviewer, another process that requires follow-up and timely turnarounds. When issues in the translations arise, more individuals become involved to confirm the issue and improve the translation. Then it’s back to another review. Documents might come in various formats, some of which might not be editable or need special permissions to edit.
This back-and-forth tennis match isn’t productive, nor does it always result in a foolproof outcome.
bilingual staff aren’t certified translators
There’s a stark difference between a native speaker of a certain language vs. a certified translator. Think about how many people you know that don’t know the difference between “they’re,” “their,” and “there.” They might speak the language, but they’re certainly not experts. The same holds true with translators vs. in-country reviewers. This process requires someone who not only speaks the language, but also has experience in developing written content in that language.
On top of that, you also need someone with an understanding of word choice and dialect within that language. It’s like the difference between soda and pop in the USA. Both are acceptable, but different regions tend to use one of these more than the other. A person may be fluent in a language without knowing cultural differences, taboos, and preferred word usage. This can lead to confusion and misrepresentation, which may alienate the customers a company intends to target.
Although companies hire diverse staff to reflect their inclusive intentions, issues arise when companies default to their diverse staff as de facto translators. If no certified translators and linguists are included in the ICR process, this ignores intentional and authentic messaging. The cultural aspect of translating will be missed, as companies only gain one perspective. What’s more, the individual may not be qualified to translate on multiple specialties and topics.
having dedicated resources for ICR
Aside from using bilingual employees for ICR, there’s also the matter of not having people resources in full-time ICR roles. Reviewers also have full-time jobs to do beyond reviewing translations. When you ask them to take time away from their main responsibilities and translate, you’re distracting them from their actual job. According to the U.S. Labor Department, an employee can experience 50-60 interruptions daily. That equates to an interruption every 8 minutes. So, before asking bilingual staff to translate that document “real quickly,” ask yourself what unaccounted costs you may be incurring.
As a result, ICR is often not treated as a top priority. Reviewers are likely to miss key opportunities to improve translated content. When reviewers do discover opportunities for improvement, they often lack a process on how to address those changes. They may change items that don’t need to be changed in order to “prove” their effectiveness. Or they may be unsure as to what type of feedback is needed.
closing the gaps on ICR pitfalls
The ICR process needs to maintain integrity while also ensuring a match between the brand’s voice and the content it’s producing. Achieving this alignment requires companies to rethink their current ICR process, find where bottlenecks exist, and consider ways to remove them. One approach is to standardize the process and make improvements to translations before it reaches the in-country review stage. Taking extra steps early on, such as sharing with translators how the translations will be used, understanding differences in regional dialects, and establishing clear steps to follow, can help to build a stronger foundation and streamline the end-to-end process.
At CQ fluency, we bring native-speaking subject matter experts and certified translators to every project. Few errors and mistakes happen when companies utilize professional LSPs for your in-country review process. We provide an independent third-party reviewer to perform the review on your behalf. Giving you peace of mind in achieving high-quality translations within tight timeframes. Contact us today to learn more!