Reasons why customers don’t like the translation agency experience

I come across a version of this statement so many times: “I have worked with so many translation agencies and my experience has been bad – I have given up on finding a good one that provides what we need.” 

This kind of feedback is why we started Lyngual. There are reasons for the feeling of “they don’t get me” most of which can be fixed – that’s what we did. 


What could those reasons possibly be?

Let me elaborate:

Translation agency blackbox 

Translation agencies maintain a blackbox in order to maximize margins and make sure you don’t see what is going on behind the scenes – because if you would, you probably wouldn’t like it. 


Changing translators 

Translation agencies constantly use different translators. You think assigning your translations to the same agency is a safe option, because you have worked with them before and they seem to know what they are doing. However, the person actually conducting the translation – the translator – constantly changes. Agencies usually use the translator that is either the cheapest and/or available. Most agencies don’t care that translators need to familiarize themselves with the customer and provide better quality and consistency if they regularly work for the same company. 


Not updated or no translation memory 

TM or translation memory is probably the most important technology in translation today. Basically, it is a database saving all translations with source segment and translated segment in correlation. This enables a matching process that allows for text not having to be translated twice; and with that reduce translation time and cost. Moreover, it improves quality by providing higher consistency in translations. The more content you translate, the bigger and better the translation memory gets. Therefore, it is very important that the translation memory is diligently being updated. In many agencies this is not the case, because the Project Manager has to handle too many projects and forgets, or the TM system is poorly set up or outdated. In any case this is a tangible loss for you as a customer. 


Missing and not forwarded information 

Overworked and stressed Project Managers are a common occurrence at translation agencies due to high pressure to manage more and more revenue at increasing margins. This inevitably leads to corners being cut and oversights happening. The consequence is that important information is not reliably forwarded to the translator, which results in instructions not being followed and poor translation quality. 


Changing project managers 

All the stress and pressure also result in high turnaround rates in the project manager positions. You see regular changes in your project manager which leads to loss of information and a reset of your relationship. At the same time, the quality and seniority of project managers may vary greatly, changing your experience from good to bad in the blink of an eye. And there is little you can do about it. 


Lack of documentation 

Most information about you, your preferences and requirements are not documented. This means you have to start from scratch whenever your project manager or account manager changes and you have to re-train and re-address topics over and over again. 


Overpromise - underdeliver 

There is a famous mismatch between sales and project management when it comes to what sales promises you and what project management is able to deliver. And if something goes off plan in a project, and with large projects it almost always does, there is no room to properly solve it. 


Use of outdated processes & technology 

A lot of agencies are using outdated processes and technology. It works but is just not as efficient as it could be. And the result is higher prices and less-than-ideal quality for you.  

With the latest technologies, such as Neural Machine Translation, automated processes and automated API connections there are ways to make your translation processes lean and efficient. Which translates into lower prices, shorter turnaround times and better quality for your translations. 

Andreas Jacobi

Andreas Jacobi


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