July 3rd 2020

What Engineers Prioritize When It Comes to Localization, Featuring Ben Morfoot at GoCardless

podcast

You know what’s important to SaaS companies? Subscriptions. Why? Because it represents recurring revenue, and recurring revenue results in a dependable income stream for businesses. That’s where GoCardless comes in.

GoCardless makes it simple to collect recurring and one-off payments for customers worldwide. Based on a pull payment system, GoCardless has a lower rate of fraudulent transactions and late payments than card-based payment systems. Their software is used by companies like DocuSign, SurveyMonkey and Deloitte. More than $13 billion in transactions are processed every year by 50,000 businesses worldwide.

And since their customers are everywhere (and their customer’s customers are everywhere), GoCardless introduced an agile localization program so payers could interact with their portal in 10 languages.

In this episode, Ben Morfoot, group product manager at GoCardless, talks about how they selected which markets were strategically important, what their criteria were for implementing a translation process and translation management system, and why it’s important to treat every customer like a first-class citizen.

On this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How GoCardless developed its expansion strategy
  • What GoCardless engineers wanted from their translation vendor
  • The value of translation quality and how it impacts the user experience
  • What the product team thinks about when developing product for international users
  • The seamless process GoCardless set up to easily submit content for translation and deploy it without adding headcount

Topics: [03:53] About Ben and GoCardless. [05:51] The types of integration GoCardless utilizes. [07:02] How the GoCardless platform is used in the market. [10:03] Who the end user of their platform is. [11:28] How the end user experiences the platform and what features are available. [13:55] Reaching the tipping point for implementing localization. [15:55] Using data sets to understand which markets and languages to target for translation. [20:40] The average amount of words translated in the merchant experience. [22:21] How the translation process is managed as a centralized system. [24:14] Payer content vs. Customer content: What differs and how is it optimized? [26:28] How translation quality impacts the end user experience. [27:54] Understanding and implementing a quality TMS. [29:35] How insights into the process impacted the engineering team. [33:02] Creating the vision and criteria for the localization process. [35:52] Who is creating the content? [37:45] The scale of collaboration between content creators and translators. [38:48] Evaluating the efficacy of the system and the quality of translations. [42:03] How COVID-19 had impacted GoCardless processes.

Resources and links:

Announcer: You're listening to The Loc Show, presented by Smartling.

Adrian Cohn: Hey everyone, welcome back to The Loc Show. I'm your host Adrian Cohn, from Smartling, a language translation technology and services company that transforms how you manage content across content types and devices in any language. Thank you for listening.

Adrian Cohn: Ben Morfoot is the group product manager at GoCardless. GoCardless is a software company that's on a mission to take the pain out of getting paid for businesses that have recurring revenue. What I love about this conversation with Ben is how he frames localization. It's all about making the user experience first class for everyone. How they go about doing this is pretty fantastic, too. Let's get into the show.

Adrian Cohn: Hey, welcome back to The Loc Show. I'm really excited for our guest today, Ben Morfoot from GoCardless. Ben, welcome to the show.

Ben Morfoot: Hey, great to be on. Thank you very much for having me.

Adrian Cohn: You look very cozy in your London flat.

Ben Morfoot: Yeah, I am. I've set up, in the spare room, I've set up a bit of a meeting space. So when I want to get away from my desk and come to a meeting, I come down here. Some of its real, this sofa I'm on is real. But, the background is actually a green screen that I'd bought off the internet, in a panicked, work from home purchase, so that's fake. Each meeting, I put up a slightly different background, depending on what it is. This is my relaxed lounge setting.

Adrian Cohn: The relaxed lounge setting. Let's see one other background, what else do you have ready?

Ben Morfoot: Let's see, let me just pull up the ...

Adrian Cohn: The current background has a few really cool photos of insects, and there's an old school TV, and old school radio. It looks real to me.

Ben Morfoot: This is up in the mountains, there's a range of shots in there. You've got classic, that's a solid wall background.

Adrian Cohn: Now you look like you're on the Upper West Side of New York City.

Ben Morfoot: Exactly. My personal favorite is this is actually an animated, spinning globe, that represents our payments network. This is the logo for a big thing that we released, and I put it on when I'm in meetings when I want to emphasize the global network.

Adrian Cohn: You look like a technologist now.

Ben Morfoot: Yeah.

Adrian Cohn: This is an actual graphic that represents a GoCardless product service?

Ben Morfoot: Yeah, exactly. Last year, we released a feature that we call Borderless Payments, which was really the end of this piece of work we've been doing. It actually links in to, I guess, a lot of what we're about to talk about. But, it links to this piece of international expansion, where we built integrations into lots of these banking networks globally. And really, this thing, Borderless Payments, was the last piece of that. Where we want to make it really easy to get access to payments globally, in any of our supported currencies by just signing up, and using a single bank account.

Ben Morfoot: So we partnered with Transferwise, who are a currency exchange provider to bake that into our system. Yeah, this graphic represents the global network, and those borderless payments.

Adrian Cohn: So that's really cool. I guess this would be a good time for you to share a little bit about what is GoCardless, and what do you do for GoCardless?

Ben Morfoot: Sure, yeah I should probably give a bit of background. I'm a group product manager here, so I work with a bunch of engineers and designers, in the heart of putting together the products, improving it, and working on features. So I'm not from the world of localization and translation, I'm very much from the world of product, and engineering, and building things.

Ben Morfoot: We, at GoCardless, have built the first global network for recurring payments. So as I mentioned just before, we've linked together all these banking systems in all the difference geographies, and linked them into one network. We're the first people to have done that.

Ben Morfoot: The idea is that you can just sign up with us, and very easily collect payments for all those different places. It's a pull based payment mechanism, so you set up your payers, your end customers, and you can pull the payments from them when they're due, so there's a lot less chasing payments. We also see, because we're based on bank account to bank account payments, and not using a card, we see much lower rates of fraud, and much lower rates of failed payments, and much lower rates of churn, so it's a lot more reliable.

Ben Morfoot: Really, our mission is taking the pain out of getting paid, really all of those things are focused on that. All of these annoying jobs you have to do around collecting payments, like chasing up your customers, or working out whose paid and who hasn't, and working out why a payment has failed, we just are on a mission to take all of that away from you.

Ben Morfoot: So that includes, also, integrating with all of the platforms that you'll already be using to take payments. So we partner with people like, say, Xero, who are an accounting platform, or membership software, so that whatever it is you used to manage your customers to take payments, that will seamlessly integrate with us so it's one fewer thing you have to worry about.

Adrian Cohn: Is that an API integration? Do you have pre-built integrations with popular payment platforms?

Ben Morfoot: Yeah exactly, it's both. The majority of our users choose to use us through one of our pre-built integrations, and we take a lot of pride in those. That's really the way that we prefer people to use us, for the majority. The idea is you shouldn't have to worry about using another bit of software like us, we should just be there within the bit of software that you're already using. Obviously, we want to still have a direct relationship with you, but on a day-to-day basis it should just work, and you set and forget.

Ben Morfoot: If you are maybe a bigger company, or you are a more tech focused company, or just a company with more bespoke requirements, we also have a full API. We take a lot of pride in the quality of our API, and the supporting documentation, and the client libraries. We get a lot of good feedback from engineers, and it's very much like a thing built by engineers for engineers, for those who want to integrate that way.

Adrian Cohn: By engineers for engineers, that's GoCardless for payment platform. So what are some examples of how your product is used in the market?

Ben Morfoot: Sure. I guess there's a couple of things here. There are plenty of types of merchant, of customer of ours, who would traditionally use bank debit, and we certainly serve a lot of those. So things like energy providers, or things like newspapers, or gyms, and fitness clubs. We have plenty of client-base like that, where they generally tend to be more domestic merchants.

Ben Morfoot: But, what we are seeing more and more of is merchants who traditionally would have used cards. So a great example for this area is SaaS, actually. So lots of companies where you can sign up online, and pay whatever it is, your monthly fees. You can either use your card, or you can also use us. So DocuSign for example, which is a great example of a B2B SaaS company, you can pay your bill with DocuSign in lots of different ways, including with GoCardless.

Ben Morfoot: A lot of it comes down to the different preferences of payers in different countries. In the US, for example, corporate cards and checks and things are very much preferred. But in Europe, bank to bank, by most businesses and consumers, is preferred as a method, from the payer, to get paid.

Adrian Cohn: So it sounds like what GoCardless offers is a payment solution for the vendor, and for the vendor's customer, that is comfortable for their preference, whether it be their region or their requirements as a business.

Ben Morfoot: Yeah, exactly. What I've completely failed to do there is actually talk about any of the key selling points, but not wanting to be too sell-y.

Ben Morfoot: One of the reasons you might include us in, say, a bundle of other payment methods is this payer preference piece. Where, say you're an international company, and if you're serving, say, German customers and you don't offer bank debit as a payment method, you're going to see much lower conversion because it's a hugely preferred payment method there.

Ben Morfoot: But, the core value we offer is that the failure rates are much lower than on cards, therefore it's far more predictable and you get far less inherent churn from cards expiring. It is better value, we sell ourselves on that point. We're not trying to compete on price, but we are a better value than when you're using cards.

Ben Morfoot: The platform we've built is really designed to be seamless, and very easy and automated. Some of our biggest selling points is the way we plug into the platforms you already use. So say you use, I don't know, Xero as your accounting platform, you can seamlessly plug us in, and use us to collect the invoices that you raise in Xero.

Adrian Cohn: So who's interacting with GoCardless' platform? I assume it's all cloud based, you log in through a web browser?

Ben Morfoot: Yeah, there's different types of customer, depending on their scale, what industry they're in, they like to interact with us in different ways. We certainly do have an online interface, and we see about half our merchants, I'd say, using the online interface regularly to take payments.

Ben Morfoot: We see, then, another big chunk using partner applications like Xero. So they may come into our online interface to deal with some payment exceptions, or to change settings, all those kind of things, or configure their account. But mainly, they just use us through whatever the app is that they prefer to use.

Ben Morfoot: Then, there's a bunch of merchants who are maybe larger, or maybe more of a tech focused company, or maybe have quite specialist requirements, where they'll build an API integration. So we've got a really strong API, which is one of our great features, where you can make use of this powerful API to use all of our payment collection capabilities. And we have, supporting that, lots of libraries, and good documentations, and all the things you'd expect of a developer focused company.

Adrian Cohn: Yeah. So the platform itself is full of words, I imagine, so that your customers can navigate, and select, and configure their payment portal, as they wish to configure it. What is the platform experience like? What sort of things can people do there?

Ben Morfoot: I guess, the sort of things you'd imagine from a normal payment journey, of setting up customers, setting up payments, looking at your payouts, reconciling things, doing some sort of reporting around those payments. Account configuration steps, all the onboarding steps.

Ben Morfoot: So as a regulated business we, for example, have to go through some anti money laundering checks, and fraud checks on merchants who sign up with us, to make sure that we know who they are, and who they're collecting money from. So there's plenty of steps there, for the onboarding, and collecting of information from merchants.

Ben Morfoot: There are also plenty of interfaces that we ... THat's all stuff that's facing our customers. There's also plenty of interfaces that are facing the customers of our customers. So for example, if you want to set up a new customer as one of our merchants, a new end customer or payer, you can send them to a pre-built UI that we provide you, that is compliant. And it varies, depending on where the customer is, that you'd be able to adapt, it would be completely compliant with the relevant regulations wherever that customer is based. It'll set up a bank debit, using whatever scheme is appropriate to that customer. So there's a whole interface that the end customer, the payer, sees as well.

Adrian Cohn: Is that a mobile app experience?

Ben Morfoot: We don't offer any mobile app, or any mobile SDKs. Most of our merchants who want to go down that route use our API. And they built the interface themselves, and used the API. Or, there may be one of our libraries. We have libraries, several [inaudible 00:13:39], so maybe one of those is relevant to them.

Ben Morfoot: But, most of our signups, or most of our merchants, want to build a signup that works through web.

Adrian Cohn: That's awesome. So the business is founded and based in the United Kingdom. At what point did the business say, "This has legs, this can be something that we feel customers can benefit from, beyond the United Kingdom?"

Ben Morfoot: I don't really know when it was originally started to be spread beyond the UK, I think fairly early on. There were lots of ... I joined in, what, 2017, and I think before then there'd been several efforts to spread outside the UK. Some markets, we looked at and put a bit of an entry into. And then, you test out a market, see if there's traction, there wasn't as much traction as we'd thought so we go to a different place.

Ben Morfoot: But, when I joined, we'd already got a really good presence in France, Germany, and Spain, in the Euro zone, as well as the UK. But really, the big push came over the last couple of years, where we've started to support these banking debit schemes, which are the underlying rails that we used to collect payments. We've expanded those out into Australia and New Zealand, so we can support payers and merchants in those destinations. And Canada, and the US, and the Nordics as well. Then, all across the Euro zone.

Ben Morfoot: Yes, it's been really in the last couple of years that we've built what we call the global network of these different places. There's an extent to that which you're taking a bet, that those are locations that you can grow up to be, hopefully, as big if not bigger than the UK. Certainly, somewhere like the US we're already seeing a really great trajectory there, that feels like it could beat the UK quite easily. So it was really, I guess, in the last couple of years since I joined.

Adrian Cohn: When the company chose those markets to expand into, I'm assuming you also did some translation and localization for those markets?

Ben Morfoot: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Adrian Cohn: What were the ... You mentioned that you took a couple of bets, but I assume that those bets were not just ideas that were random. Was there data behind those decisions? How did you come to decide on the countries that you are operating in?

Ben Morfoot: Yeah, completely. So we focused, as I mentioned earlier on, on recurring payments, and it's a thing that differentiates what we're trying to do from some of our semi-competitors. Where they're focused on one-time payments, we're all about recurring payments.

Ben Morfoot: So really what we looked at was where's the recurring payment volume in the world. Where do merchants that we already have on board, where do they want to collect from? So, where would they like us to expand into? And, where are the merchants ready and waiting to start using us, as soon as we get to their geography? So it's kind of a demand based thing, and you can run the maths, all of it comes down to just the largest economies.

Ben Morfoot: When we started this push, I think we were covering 27%, we estimate, of the global volume of recurring payments, and now we're up into the mid-70s, maybe like 75, 76 percent. If you sign up to use us, we can cover 76% of the recurring payment volume around the world.

Adrian Cohn: Wow.

Ben Morfoot: That's [inaudible 00:17:35] to us. Obviously, we have only a tiny bit of that market. But it's basically like, what are the areas we can add that covers off the biggest chunks of global recurring payment volume?

Adrian Cohn: That's a really interesting approach. So you knew that the product offering is focused on recurring payments, and you looked at where there would be largest market for businesses that have recurring payment contracts with their customers. And that's how you created a translation and localization strategy.

Ben Morfoot: Yeah, exactly. I mean, obviously when you do the maths, the places that are biggest for recurring payments are usually the places that are biggest in a lot of other things, too, like a lot of one-off payments. So the recurring payments is a lens you put on it, but it doesn't give starkly any different answers to if you were just looking for the biggest economies. So that's the particular thing that we're focused on, so that's what we wanted to make sure we're optimizing for.

Ben Morfoot: Yeah, then once we've got that ideas of these are the places we want to expand, I guess the next level of thinking about the thing is what ... I guess, what specific languages do you want to cover? Because a lot of what I just mentioned are, obviously, English speaking countries. But, our largest single block was the Euro zone, which obviously covers a lot of different languages. We have a lot words in the product. How many of those do we want to translate, and into what languages?

Ben Morfoot: You could just say, "Fine, let's translate absolutely everything we cover into absolutely everything." But, that's probably not the optimal approach. So we looked at, within that full, addressable market of areas where you can collect payments, we looked at things like which countries were we really seeing a lot of uptick? Which countries are we seeing lots of growth in? Which countries do we think where localization may be able to unlock a whole new load of growth? Which countries don't mind, naturally, just having their content in English?

Ben Morfoot: Some of the Nordics, actually, they prefer if you just put it in well written English than trying to translate everything, and maybe getting a few things wrong, depending on the quality of your localizations.

Ben Morfoot: So we said okay, with all of our merchant facing bits of the interface, here's our list of languages we wanted to support. And we said everything that the merchant sees should be in these languages, fully translated. And if it's not covered by this group, then it's just left in English. So it's an all or nothing approach for merchants, where we didn't want to have them moving between, they're seeing a bit of content in their own language and seeing a bit in English. It was all or nothing.

Adrian Cohn: How many words is that merchant experience?

Ben Morfoot: That's a good question. In the high 10s of thousands, I can't remember exactly what the word count was when we started looking at it. Something like 50 or 60,000.

Adrian Cohn: That's a high number of words. That's source words? Or, is that how you ...

Ben Morfoot: Yeah, that's source words. A reasonable chunk of that, to be fair, is things like our support materials. So we have, as I mentioned, we've got pretty extensive support documentation, both around the API, and around all the other elements. But again, we wanted to reflect the same pattern, we didn't want you to be using a localized product, and then go to support and it's all in English. It should be a consistent experience.

Adrian Cohn: Did you use the same level of translation quality for the product and for the support documentation? Or, did you do a split, in terms of the translation process?

Ben Morfoot: No, we kept it all the same. What we wanted to maintain was, as much as possible, this consistency. We didn't want it to feel like the support documentation is maintained by a different part of GoCardless then [inaudible 00:21:49] the product. But, we didn't want people to see that, we don't people to feel like they're being passed around different departments that have different policies, and different levels of budget to translate these things. The whole thing is standardized. That comes down to both the quality of the translation, but obviously also things like the translation glossary, and the translation memory, there should be complete consistency.

Ben Morfoot: Particularly in support documentations, if you've got inconsistencies between the product and the support docs, you can have lots of problems then.

Adrian Cohn: Yeah, I think you can run into a lot of issues there. One of the things that I'm interested in is how did the translation get managed for this core piece of your product, the merchant facing piece of the product, alongside the documentation? Was the translation part of this centralized? So that the quality, and the budgets, and everything was managed by a single team. Or, did you have a lot of different stakeholders making decisions about how things, and when things should get translated?

Ben Morfoot: I guess yeah, it did all come under one, it was a project that I was leading. Basically, we put it all under that project, and we said we're going to own this thing, at least for the initial phase through which we are rolling out this standardized approach.

Ben Morfoot: Because before then, we had a patchwork where we'd got things ... A real inconsistency. If something's translated into some languages, those languages then weren't supported elsewhere, and different projects over time had made different decisions elsewhere. We were like, "We're going to come in and clean this thing up, and standardize it," and make those decisions centrally.

Ben Morfoot: That did include things like we had bits of content that were translated into languages that we'd made a decision, based on our framework and support, that we weren't going to translate. And therefore, we just ditched that content and we rolled it back to English. Even though you could say you've already go translated content, shouldn't you keep it? We just wanted that complete consistency.

Adrian Cohn: That's a cool decision.

Ben Morfoot: Yeah. Yeah, it was we just wanted this thing to be clean clear.

Ben Morfoot: It was a different set of decisions that we made for the payers, the customers of our customers. Obviously, you're representing your customers so you've got to be even more careful with the decisions you make, and even higher focus, I guess, on quality.

Adrian Cohn: Did you handle that content differently? Or, you treated all of that merchant facing copy, and the end user copy in the same way?

Ben Morfoot: In the customer facing content ... Sorry, I'll user payers. We're confusing internal technology. The payer interface is the customers of our customers, we supported a wider arrange of languages. Because one of the things is that this is far fewer words in those interfaces, so its much easier to maintain a wider range of language.

Ben Morfoot: Also, we think that while a merchant, when they're using us, may know that we're an English company, they may be fine, if they're from quite a small market, they may be used to using SaaS software that's in English, and so may be okay with that compromise. It's not okay to expect the same compromise of their end customers, because their end customer, they don't even know who we are. So if, suddenly, there's a payment page appearing, a page they're seeing appearing in English, that's not an okay representation of our merchants. We did that, we made sure we supported a wide arrange of languages.

Ben Morfoot: We also put in some more review steps, and were a little bit more careful about the way we talked about things. Obviously, one of the things we try and optimize for is conversion of those payers on behalf of our merchants. So what we don't want to do is give a payment flow that is confusing and hard to use, in any way, for the customers of our merchants, which would limit the conversion. And ultimately, impact on the merchants, then ultimately impact on us.

Ben Morfoot: So things like being careful around terminology is used, and making sure that it's really clear is particularly important when you're dealing with payers.

Adrian Cohn: Yeah. It's so amazing how translation quality is such a sensitive business mechanic. I don't know if that's the right way of saying it. But, translation quality ultimately will impact your customers experience. And getting that right is pretty critical, isn't it?

Ben Morfoot: Yeah, it definitely is. I think it's very easy ... one of the ... It felt a little bit, back when we started this whole thing, that localizations was thought of very much as an end of the chain sort of thing, like a final box to be ticked, a thing just to be done at the end of building this great product. But obviously, the language that you use within a product can undo huge amounts of really expensive development work.

Ben Morfoot: If you've built a really amazing product that does its job really well, is really well thought out, and the UI and everything is brilliant, and it solves a real customer problem, but then you just make a really poor job of the localization, or you do things like have text that's clipped, and not been translated in context properly, or any of these sort of things, it can just undo all the work that's gone before it. So I think that was a big shift for us, to really see it as being just as important as all of the other engineering and build work, which we take a lot of pride in doing really well.

Adrian Cohn: Fantastic insight. When did that click, for you and for your team?

Ben Morfoot: I guess it was right back at the beginning of this project, when we were ... maybe it was when we were looking, actually, at which locales we should be supporting. We'd go in, and start to talk to people in the individual markets, talk to our salespeople, talk to our support people, understand the problems that our merchants and our customers are having. Just to get an idea of where we needed to support local languages, and where we didn't.

Ben Morfoot: It's really when you're staring those conversations that you realize the impact of these things. And you see things like glaring typos, or spelling mistakes, that have been sat on a page in a particular language, and it's just never been picked up, and never been changed. And to a user in that geo, it must look really bad, and really must look like that their geo is not a focus to us if that's there. Where it's not, we truly want to be treating all of our geos as first class citizens. We try not to just develop for the UK, we try to make sure we are overcompensating by developing for other geos that we really want to make this product really good for. But you undermine all of that if you've got something as simple as a typo, that just makes you look like you don't care as much as you do.

Adrian Cohn: Has your engineering team changed the way that you incorporate localization into your product development pipeline, as a result of the insights that you've gained from that customer analysis, and further thought and experience, now, working in localization?

Ben Morfoot: Yeah, we have. We have and we haven't, I guess. One of the aims of this was that, back when we were building our end-to-end localization pipeline, was that we wouldn't really have to have any impact on the engineer at all. So we had a set of strict requirements, like the engineer wouldn't have to use any new interfaces, and they wouldn't have to contact anybody, or send any emails. It would mean nobody on the engineering or the product side actually managing this whole thing, the whole thing would run itself.

Ben Morfoot: We accepted that it would add some time to the process, but that turnaround time had to be really tight, and we kept it within 24 hours. So the localization adds a 24 hour block at the end of our process of developing a thing, and the engineer can trigger a translation from within GitHub, which we use for our code management. And it just goes off, and it's seamless, we get to see it. And within 24 hours, it comes back, and they just merge that back in along with their source content.

Adrian Cohn: I love that. So your criteria, no new interfaces for developers.

Ben Morfoot: Yeah.

Adrian Cohn: It could not interfere with your product ... say that, one more time?

Ben Morfoot: So it was yeah, no new interfaces, or tools, or new ways of working for engineers, other than the minimum of here's one new button to click, when you're ready to do your translations.

Ben Morfoot: There had to be no manual work required from our side, we didn't want to assign a headcount to this. We didn't see it as a resourcing problem, we saw it as an engineering problem to be solved. And minimal time delays.

Ben Morfoot: We deploy to your product multiple times a day, so we're deploying updates the whole time. Any engineer, as soon as they're done with their improvement to product, they can just push it out and deploy it. It's important that we don't hold that process up, or need to batch things into a weekly job, or anything like that. People just need to be able to fire off individual translations at the end of their small individual code changes, and maintain that agile way of working.

Adrian Cohn: We've heard this sentiment before. Ben's team is not unlike Brandon's from Butterfly Network. Having a TMS that integrates with existing technology means people can stay within environments that are familiar. This point of view, this alignment, is exactly what enables companies like GoCardless and Butterfly Network to automate the entirety of the translation workflow.

Adrian Cohn: So if you're in the market for a translation management system, take this page out of Ben's playbook and put it to good use. Find a TMS that can integrate with the tools you have, either through a pre-built integration, an API or a proxy, that you will be able to use without changing process on your end. Let's get back to the show.

Adrian Cohn: How did you guys have the vision for this? I feel like that's such an awesome list of criteria, for going out and finding a translation vendor to fulfill work for the company. How in the world did you come up with those criteria? How did you know to come up with that list?

Ben Morfoot: I guess it was probably through lack of experience in the world of translations, and we just came at it from if we were working with, I don't know, a typical service that we would need to integrate with our engineering workflow. So maybe if we think about it in the same terms as a new testing suite that we wanted to be able to integrate, and the sort of things we demand of that. So just looking at it from what would an engineer require of any normal service, rather than thinking what's possible within localization.

Ben Morfoot: A lot of the solutions we looked at, and the providers of the TMS, and then the localization services on top, just clearly weren't used to those sort of demands, and weren't going to be able to do those things. So it took a bit of effort, for a while we were like, "I don't know if these things are going to be possible." But luckily, we've got quite an ambitious, and stubborn, and brilliant set of engineers who were clearly set onto the best version of this thing being a thing that we could deliver. Therefore, we just carried on looking until we found the right combination of partners to deliver the solution.

Adrian Cohn: Yeah, that's awesome. I think that it's so important for companies to have a really strong set of criteria, that are beyond the typical questions that are asked, for example, in an RFP. We get so many RFPs, and the questions are always pretty much the same. But ironically, they almost never align with what the buyer is actually looking for.

Ben Morfoot: Yeah.

Adrian Cohn: But the ones that you've just put forth, I feel are relevant. It's not just because we fulfilled that well for GoCardless, but it was important for you. You all knew what you needed and why you needed it, and based on that set of criteria, you were able to go out and find a vendor that was able to deliver on those requirements.

Ben Morfoot: Yeah, exactly. We focused on the outcomes, and the change it would have in our universe, rather than this set of requirements, X, Y, and Z, we want from a TMS, we don't really care how the thing works. We obviously do when we're building it, but when we're trying to find which solutions are going to fit in, we care about the outcomes it's going to deliver for us, rather than the way it's going to do those things.

Adrian Cohn: Yeah. So who writes the content for your product? Is it people on the product team, is it content? I actually don't even know what that function is.

Ben Morfoot: It's a range. I mean, in most of the examples we were talking it, it's the engineers themselves. So if they're building some new interface, they will work it up. Our internal working language is English, as you expect being a UK-based company. So they'll write it in English, into the code base.

Ben Morfoot: If it's a slightly bigger part of the product, maybe it needs some more careful thought put into the copy, maybe it'll be our product designers who've written that copy based on a lot of user testing they've done. Or, if it's even bigger than that, maybe it'll be a product marketing function, who will be looking at some of the product side, and also, obviously, the marketing side. Yeah, planning that into this is the way we want to explain this thing, or how it works, or what advantages it can bring to you, so the product side is usually one of those groups.

Ben Morfoot: Then we also, as was mentioned earlier, have a load of support content. So if it's engineering type support content, so API support, et cetera, it's written by our engineers. But if it's support content, it's written by our support agents who are the experts in the best way to explain how things work to our users.

Ben Morfoot: So there's a wide range of different ... people in marketing, some people from sales, and other examples. So a wide range of people, and the intent is that they can all be able to localize their content in a way that suits them, and works for their different workflows, and doesn't need some central person managing it.

Adrian Cohn: Yeah.

Ben Morfoot: We don't have a localization manager, for example, it's just not a role that exists.

Adrian Cohn: So do the content writers, at all, interact with the translation bit? Or, it's just your developers and engineers who are pushing strings to get translated?

Ben Morfoot: No, they do. The main bit we've talked about here is the automated flow that we built for translating things for our code base. There is also more of an ad-hoc, more manual process. I mean, it's manual to the extent that it's written manually as a one-off thing, and then somebody's uploaded it.

Ben Morfoot: So for the support content, for example, that would be written as a one-off thing by a support agent in our support platform, and then they hit a button and that sends it in to be translated, and that'll come back. I guess they have a similar hands-off approach. Maybe some of the other bits of content are done in more of a manual way, like a manual upload, but that's the minority. The majority is automated.

Adrian Cohn: Do you all meet up frequently as a team, or ever as a team, to review translation performance, to see if everything is working the way expected? Or, to see if there are ways to make it even better?

Ben Morfoot: Yeah, we do. We probably are still relatively fragmented here, where we don't pull everything together into one place. There are a couple of people who, that's not their main role, but will keep an eye on it, and review these things in a reasonable cadence. Then, just within each department, they keep on top of is this thing still working for us, in the way we want it to?

Ben Morfoot: Yeah we do, occasionally, bigger reviews. We did one recently, where we took a bit of a fresh look at the translators that we were using for various departments, and looked at whether we could do some consolidation there, and looked at the varying qualities of things.

Adrian Cohn: Were there specific reports that were important to you, during that evaluation process? Or, was it more of a having peers review the content, and providing anecdotal feedback?

Ben Morfoot: Yeah, so it varies. Some of the biggest reports, or some of the most important reports, were around regularly keeping on top of the turnaround times, and making sure that we weren't holding up our engineers, for example, in the translations that were going to be coming from them. Yeah, at the same time, ensuring that we met a minimum, and relatively high, but a minimum bar of quality for all of the translations.

Ben Morfoot: I don't think there's anything specifically that jumps out as stuff we looked at, things that were really useful for looking at quality. Yeah, I can't think of anything offhand.

Adrian Cohn: I mean, I feel that a lot of the analysis of the translation of quality, it can often be subjective, which sometimes if a perfectly fine approach to evaluating quality. There are some many ways to do a comprehensive analysis, though.

Adrian Cohn: We have some customers who use DQF, which is a [Taus rated 00:41:28] rated, human review process that scores content. There's also Quality Confidence Score in Smartling, which will automatically tell you what the translation quality is, based on a number of factors. But, it's always interesting to hear how other people and other businesses are thinking about their translation quality, and how to asses it over time.

Ben Morfoot: Yeah. We have a DQF measure in place that we review at a cadence.

Adrian Cohn: Nice. So just the last thought or question I have, Ben, is how has all of the changes that have impacted the world with COVID-19 had an impact on GoCardless? How has it had an impact on the way you think about localization for GoCardless?

Ben Morfoot: I guess, to answer the question most generally, we are trying as much as possible obviously, and we're working remotely, and all those things you'd expect. We're trying as much as possible to keep being there, and we're all still working, we're all doing the same things we were before, to keep both delivering for existing merchants, and helping new merchants to solve more problems with us, and to keep developing the product.

Ben Morfoot: We're thinking about some of the short term things we can do within the product to help merchants as well. We recently rolled out a feature to our merchants to pause subscriptions. So going into this period, if their customers want to put their subscriptions on pause they don't need to cancel, they can just go ahead and pause them, ready to resume them when their customers are ready to start using that service again. There are various other things we're looking at, ways we can make the product better during this time, and react to those things.

Ben Morfoot: I don't know if around localization specifically, there are any big trends from this. We've got quite a diversified merchant base, in lots of different industries, and we're not seeing any major trends with certain geographies changing or anything like that. It's still, at the moment, being pretty consistent.

Adrian Cohn: But that's a really cool feature that you guys released, on a short notice. I suppose it's helpful to have the localization pipeline put into place and fully automated, so that you can easily deploy the feature to new markets.

Ben Morfoot: Yeah, exactly. It's a perfect example of the way that we work in a relatively agile way. If we suddenly see that something is a priority ... It was a particular engineer who spotted this and said, "Is this something we should prioritize now?" And they started working on it, and worked on the feature over a few days, and knew that they could push the thing out in a very agile way. Including they pushed out a set of functionality that allows you to pause subscriptions first, because that was the highest value thing it could do. And then the ability to unpause them, they actually pushed later on.

Adrian Cohn: You definitely want to have that functionality built in, right?

Ben Morfoot: Yes, exactly. Yeah. But he's like, "Let's get the value to the merchants, let's push the pause bit first because that's the thing they're wanting right now." As soon it was released, we saw a massive spike in its usage.

Ben Morfoot: Yeah, we want to just be able to keep work in that really agile and quick way.

Adrian Cohn: That's cool. Well Ben, I really appreciate your time today, it's been such great fun having you on The Loc Show.

Ben Morfoot: Not at all, thank you very much. It's been great fun. Cheers, Adrian.

Adrian Cohn: I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Ben as much as I did. If you liked this episode of The Loc Show, hit the subscribe button so the next episode will be waiting for you. And if you loved the podcast, please leave a review. Five star reviews go a long way. If you're not ready to give a five star review, give our next episode a shot. We appreciate your listening.

Adrian Cohn: If you have any feedback, or want us to interview one of your favorite people in localization, send us an email at locshow@smartling.com. See you next week.

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