Top five business translation challenges

By Keith Laska

As a rule, human translation is best for content that is legally binding and high value, branded content. However, human translation can be costly, can take weeks (or even months) to complete, and can’t address all of the real-time needs of your business, to serve multilingual prospects, partners and customers.

Machine translation is well suited for use as part of a human translation process, but also solves high-volume and real-time big language challenges that human translation cannot on its own. I have highlighted the five major translation challenges faced by organisations and will discuss possible solutions.

Translation capacity and turnaround time for internal teams or agencies

Machine translation can improve the capacity and productivity of internal translation departments or language service providers by at least 30% and greatly reduce the cost of content translation. Instead of starting with a raw document, translators begin with a machine translation that is reviewed in a post-editing process.

Translators can then edit and fine-tune the content for readability, accuracy, and cultural sensitivities. By frontloading the process with a high-quality machine translation, translators are still able to provide high-quality content, but in a fraction of the time.

The more content you translate, the more productivity and cost savings you’ll see because translators become more efficient with this process over time. Machine translation engines can “learn” your company and industry terminology so the quality of the machine translation can also improve over time. This cuts the time and cost of post-editing to put the “finishing touch” on content.

Global customer service and customer relationship management

The goal of any service department is to help customers find the right answer – and to stay off the phone. They strive to enhance customer relationships by offering support over as many self-service channels as possible, including knowledge base articles, email support, and real-time chat. However, due to the dynamic nature of this content, often it isn’t translated into different languages, requiring multilingual customer service agents instead.

There are two key online customer support areas that can benefit from machine translation.

The first is real-time communication, involving inbound web forms, email support and live chat. By using machine translation, your customers and service agents can communicate in real-time in their native language. Whether communicating through web forms, email or live chat systems, machine translation (integrated directly into your existing systems) then seamlessly translates their writing in real-time into the recipient’s preferred language.

Not only is this a great service offering for your customers, it allows you to have immense flexibility in how, where and who you use to staff your online customer support teams. This approach also allows you to utilise the online customer support team to expand and support new or different markets.

The second area is knowledge base articles – which provide a self-service, on-demand, and cost effective customer support channel. Many companies focus on translating the marketing materials and user manuals for products, but often stop short of translating knowledge bases due to the large volume and velocity of new articles being published, as well as the associated cost. However, machine translation can do this automatically within the content publishing process, requiring little human intervention.

Online user activity and multilingual engagement

Whether it’s a web forum, blog, community content, customer review or a Wiki page, your online user-generated content (UGC) is a powerful tool for customer experience and can be a great opportunity to connect customers around your brand and products. These are rarely translated because the ever-fluctuating content requires real time translation that is not possible with traditional translation options.

However, this content is a valuable resource for resolving problems, providing information, building a brand and delivering a positive customer experience. Machine translation provides a way for companies to quickly and affordably translate user reviews on e-commerce sites, comments on blogs or within online communities or forums – and other online UGC that helps provide support or information to your customers and prospects. While the translation isn’t letter-perfect, it is good enough for its primary purpose – information.

International employee collaboration

Your employees are sharing information every day via proposals, product specifications, designs and documents. While these employees may speak your language very well, they most likely prefer to review complex concepts in their native languages.

For internal content sharing, machine translation can provide an understandable translation that will help employees transcend language barriers. In addition, by granting all employees access to a machine translation solution, they are able to access and quickly translate external information as well – without sending it through a lengthy translation process.

This level of multilingual information sharing and information access can dramatically improve internal communications and knowledge sharing, increase employee satisfaction and retention, and drive innovation among your teams.

Online security and protection of intellectual property

In an effort to be resourceful, your employees probably try creative, but unsecured translation methods like Google Translate or Microsoft Bing. These public, web-based machine translation tools are effective, but allow your intellectual property to be mined to improve search results, or for more sinister needs.

You should test if your company’s data is being submitted through unsecured channels for translation. Your IT department can audit your firewalls to determine how much traffic is going to the IP addresses of online translation services. Many companies have been surprised by the volume of information going out of their organisation this way.

About the author

Keith Laska is CEO SDL Language Technologies Division.

SDL enables global businesses to enrich their customers’ experience through the entire customer journey. SDL’s technology and services help brands to predict what their customers want and engage with them across multiple languages, cultures, channels and devices. SDL has over 1,500 enterprise customers, 400 partners and a global infrastructure of 70 offices in 38 countries. 42 out of the top 50 brands work with SDL.

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