Three Indicators of Customer-Centric Translation Software

Ways to know that translation software was built for customer needs.


Translation software offers many benefits to customers, but the translation industry has struggled to make those benefits fully visible and tangible. Working in the fields of translation, computer science, engineering, and computational linguistics over the years, I’ve long been concerned with striking the right balance between ensuring high-quality translation while providing customers with a positive experience that does not slow them down or break the bank.

In my past work with advanced translation software developed for government purposes, we pushed artificial intelligence to its extremes.

We taught machines to learn about the subtleties of contemporary languages from search engines, just as professional human translators do when we research topics online.

Although the machines translated with a very slim margin of error, we couldn’t trust them without having a human double-check the output and having data available for what is known as “retraining.” Likewise, while human translators were doing their job, we realized that the time spent communicating, transferring tasks and files back and forth, and resolving pending issues should be optimized by technology.

Here are three indicators of customer-centric translation software that can put the customer back at the center of things.

1. Translation Data for Business Intelligence

Now is the time to move beyond discussions of using translation software for artificial intelligence and toward using it for business intelligence.

Quality is critical to customers, but their budgets drive their business decisions. To help make our customers successful, we must find ways to accomplish both.

Modern translation software enables customers to easily capture the content needed for localization from its source location. It also allows project requestors to track their projects seamlessly, cutting overhead hours and minimizing issues and discrepancies that too often plague translation projects.

The best translation software ultimately puts customers in control, so that they can reap the benefits, use their dashboards and reporting features to drive their business decisions.

2. Reduced Project Management Costs

In the pre-Smartling era, clients had to pay for an overwhelming list of items on top of the translation costs, most of which fell under the blanket category of “project management.”

For many translation projects, the project management fees are often double the cost of translation and engineering.

Examples of steps that translation software can eliminate include:

  1. Preparing files for translation
  2. Handing over files for translation
  3. Engaging executives to hold hour-long status calls
  4. Having a translation agency analyze, prepare, and handle files
  5. Translators finding issues, then engaging executives for context proofing
  6. Post-processing files, then doing a few rounds of reviews
  7. Clients tutoring in-house staff on complicated platforms to review the translation
  8. Going back and forth between a client with bilingual employees, a localization agency, and the translators/reviewers on both sides

3. Reduced Time Commitment for the Customer

Customers who buy translation services often spend way too many hours of their own time engaging in localization projects. This means they are less likely to translate more content or add more languages, because the number of hours in their day simply doesn’t scale.

When clients have to spend too much of their own time on translation projects, they are limited in their ability to expand their own business’s global reach.

As a translation industry veteran who has supported customers for many years, my advice is simple: look for translation software that provides you with the three benefits above, and it’s hard to go wrong.