skip to Main Content

Partnership and customer care in the language industry

Why finding the right localization partner early on is vital to long-term success?

Providing services should come along with great customer care, and the language industry should be no exception, but an example of how communication should be at the very core of our training and business.

Relationship sells.

The best client is the one that you already have.

I am not much of a fan of sales trainings, but these two phrases stuck with me.

It’s not a coincidence that our motto is: Not just a team of translators, but your translation department. We built our business on this foundation, and it shows: 90% client retention and excellent relationships with all our clients.

If I were to make a list on what we have been doing for the past 13 years without having sales trainings or other sophisticated courses on business development, I would say these are some of our core beliefs:

  1. Place customers at the center of everything you do;
  2. Make customer services part of your brand’s DNA;
  3. Don’t overpromise. Be honest and keep your word;
  4. Be human. Avoid template-based communication;
  5. Help customers help themselves – it might look like you are losing business, but you gain trust and respect for your expertise;
  6. Be proactively helpful;
  7. Our client, our boss. Respect your client and make it about the partnership that you have;
  8. Maintain your focus throughout your entire collaboration, not just until you obtain the customer;
  9. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and treat them as you would like to be treated;
  10. Live their journey.

This is quite an introduction about how we managed to become a vital partner for the localization department of a global e-commerce platform supplier. What you need in a partner, and especially a localization partner, is for them to check as many boxes as they can from the above list, alongside with their expertise on translation and localization, of course.

We asked VTEX – global e-commerce platform supplier now NYSE-listed – to evaluate how we helped them in their rapid expansion, in our role of localization partner, and the reality check was even greater than we could’ve expected – it seems that our customer, when choosing the right partner, is also looking for the things we listed above.

VTEX’s global expansion: a localization perspective
Why finding the right partner early on is vital to long term success?

VTEX, now a Brazilian unicorn NYSE-listed company and a leader in ecommerce solutions, started factoring in localization as it hit its first expansion roadblock in the US, where a native experience doesn’t entail a word-for-word translation of an interface, but rather comprises a comprehensive set of parameters that are unique to that regional target audience. Expanding into LATAM was one thing, this was a whole new ball game, and we needed to up the ante. At the same time, the first deals started coming in from Europe, with Romania, Italy, and Spain leading the way. An entirely new problem emerged for the first time, one that would increase in frequency as VTEX continuously expanded: none of the localization team members at that time (numbering a whopping 3 team members), spoke any Italian.

As Europe and the US became the new frontiers for the company, requests started flooding in, not just for localization into Spanish and English, but now also into Romanian and Italian. We urgently needed a partner, one that could work fast, with little notice, and understand what we needed even we weren’t so sure ourselves. After an exhaustive search which led nowhere, I was ready to give up on finding a global partner and instead try to work with smaller local ones where possible. During a weekly call with Cristi, then VTEX’s Romania country manager and now in charge of Eastern Europe, I expressed my frustration at not finding the partner I was looking for. His reaction was, “well, did you speak to Cristina from The Department?”. Which department is what crossed my mind, but then I understood. Cristina had worked with Cristi on a different project before, for another company, and as he put it, her company’s services were the best he’d seen.

Long story short, we partnered with them, and I’ve come to realize that it was one of those godsent moments that define a company’s long-term success. We’re a chaotic bunch, always racing against the incoming tide of an increasingly fast expansion, with localization being at the center of providing a native user experience, be it through a global setting or on a local user level. Our checkout module currently supports around 30 languages natively, and our admin is fully deployed in 7 languages; our blog posts and business case studies are published in 5-6 languages, and so on.

How can a team of 12 ever compete with the rest of the company, now at over 1300 strong? We can’t do it by ourselves, and here is where Cristina and her team come in. She is our localization project manager in all but her email address. She probably knows more about VTEX than most of our staff, and for a good reason, as she’s been personally managing and organizing all the requests that we cannot handle in-house.

Her team is dedicated, responds well to feedback, and most importantly, can deliver consistent quality in less than 24 hours. Together, we’ve launched Romanian and Japanese as full admin language options, have deployed our checkout front-end experience in more than 25 languages, and have overcome numerous challenges, from subtitling 50+ hours of training videos for LATAM partners to putting together a translation memory to training on the use of CAT tools. Finnish admin in a week? No problem. Arabic RTL layout expert? Sure. Korean UX changes for a native experience? All done.

Many of these things are not expected of a typical partner agency, but Cristina and her team have never let us down. We don’t consider them a partner; we consider them part of the team. If you’re looking for reliability and consistent quality at a moment’s notice, I would not recommend anyone else.”

Vladimir Montanu
Head of Localization at VTEX


We have a small collection of articles on our blog, for your breaks from lists and work instruments. Two of these are on literary translations and creative writing – you can find them here.

Published on: 12.08.2021

Back To Top