HansemEUG established an office in America in 2018 to serve our North American customers better by responding to their needs faster. Since then, we have learned that there are some subtle differences between European and American customers, in terms of their working styles, requirements, management styles, and the types of documents they want translated.
First, the difference between European and American translation management system preferences is clear; European customers generally prefer European-based systems, such as WorldServer, Transit, MemoQ, XTM, and Memsource, while American customers tend to prefer American-based systems, such as Smartling, Transifex, Crowdin, and Lingotek. Such differences might seem obvious, but it is important that service providers understand this clearly when approaching customers.
European customers also have stricter requirements for PC-based CAT tools – for example, they require the program versions to match – whereas American customers usually put more emphasis on the final product rather than on the byproducts of translation (e.g., bilingual files or TMX files). In other words, European customers put more emphasis on the process by providing detailed specifications and making sure software versions are the same, and American customers put more emphasis on the final outcome and are relatively flexible on the process and more open to suggestions from the service providers. Of course, this observation cannot be generalized, but through my experience with the customers, I observed that European customers value emotional connections with their partners and customers, and American customers value rational, cost-sensitive decisions.
In 2018, HansemEUG attended the Slator conference in San Francisco, the LocWorld conference in Seattle, the American Translators Association (ATA) conference in New Orleans, and the annual conference held by the Association of Language Companies. By attending these events and meeting other professionals in the language industry, I was able to learn more about the language industry in America and the expectations of American customers.
There are a number of different types of customers in the language industry. For example, there are large global enterprises, small and medium-sized enterprises looking to expand overseas, and language service providers of various sizes. The usual vendor management strategy of large global enterprises is to work with a single, large service provider (i.e., a multi-language vendor, MLV) or a local single-language provider (SLV). However, the MLVs usually work with regional MLVs or local SLVs through subcontracting. This creates multiple layers the customer has to navigate if they want to discuss quality, and these layers restrict the response times and efficiency of quality management Also, as the market becomes more globalized, localization teams in enterprises might be subdivided into regional teams and be able to control the localization process more systematically. Many enterprises started to consider moving from using large MLVs for all their languages to implementing the multi-regional vendor strategy – that is, using a regional group of smaller service providers.
There are numerous specialized services in North America’s localization industry. For example, there are a lot of companies that specialize in one specific area, such as e-learning, websites, multimedia, videos, games, software, marketing, and testing. Also, because there is a wide variety of ethnic groups in America, multilingual interpretation services have been a huge success for many companies.
It is interesting how different localization characteristics manifest in each region. In order to respond effectively to customer requests from different regions, it is necessary to thoroughly understand the localization needs of the regions in advance and to employ a strategy that allows for timely response.