Effective Communication With Clients

Language Service Providers usually have a wide range of clients, and there are many ways to categorise them. The clients could be other LSPs/MLVs or end clients (from individual people through business entities to institutions and corporations). Depending on the revenue they bring, they could be categorised as small, big or even strategic. Some of the clients request services regularly, others only occasionally. Some submit smaller, others bigger jobs. But no matter what the target category is, LSPs look for ways to communicate effectively with their clients. Effective – meaning not only clear and straightforward for both parties, but also allowing your clients to find the value they seek in a service. This article presents several useful tips and tools to make your communication effective in that respect.

One of the simplest, yet most often underestimated tools to communicate with your potential clients is a quote request form (QRF). When a client is looking for the right service provider, one of the first places they go is the provider’s website. Potential clients are not always eager to get in touch with sales people, they often prefer to do the research themselves. That is why it’s not enough to provide them with just your telephone number, email address or a contact form. A quote request form that you can embed on your website is far more than that. You can use it not only to collect details about a potential job and requester or to obtain the files to translate, but also to familiarise your client with the various services you offer and your areas of expertise. A good QRF is short and easy to fill out for your client, but at the same time provides your account/project managers with all the data they need to prepare the quote. The QRF offered by XTRF is, additionally, integrated with the Home Portal. When a new request is submitted, a quote gets created with the most essential data about the project and client already entered. All that needs to be done is to enter your estimate and share it with the client.

Once initial contact has been established with your client, you can continue your communication using email and document templates. Standardised messages and documents always look professional. Since they are always the same in format, you are sure your clients get all the information they need. But the main advantage of using the templates is that you save time on repetitive actions . You can use email and document templates in your communication with clients on various occasions: sending a quote, confirming a project’s scope and deadline, sending deliverables or issuing an invoice. In the XTRF platform, email and document templates are populated with respective project and client data automatically. They are fully customisable in terms of the layout and information provided in them. They can be customised per client or even sent in their native language. Although sent from the system, they can be replied to and the client’s reply will be sent to the right recipient (typically, the project and/or account manager). What is also important, is that you are able to deliver large files with them, because the deliverables, instead of being attached, are provided in a click-to-download link.

The good thing about the templates is that they work great for both new and regular clients. The new ones are serviced professionally and the communication is clear and succinct. The regular ones, especially MLV clients also value straightforward and to-the-point communication, because the biggest value for them is your work done well and on time. It’s a fact, however, that communicating through templates is not perceived too well by your regular end clients. This is because one of the key values for them is your individual approach – they don’t like being treated as one of many. A perfect solution to keep the communication effective with these types of clients is giving them access to a portal through which they can communicate with you. In the XTRF Platform, this is provided by means of the Customer Portal. Client contact persons are granted access to their individual accounts. They log in using their own credentials. Not only can they request a quote or launch projects using the service names they know and are used to, but they can also see the history of their projects and their invoices. They can make themselves feel “at home” by using various widgets and reports (even custom ones) prepared for them. It’s also worth mentioning that the Customer Portal is available in several language variants. Using the Customer Portal not only makes your clients feel unique, but also makes you project managers’ lives easier. Requests for them are submitted in a standardised manner and, similar to the QRF, new projects and quotes get created in the Home Portal with the basic data already entered.

Last but not least, if you are looking for an even more advanced means of communicating with your clients, you can consider using the XTRF Platform’s API. The wide range of REST-API commands available in XTRF, gives you the possibility to integrate with your clients’ platforms, portals, Content Management Systems or CAT tools. This may be a good investment when thinking of streamlining communication with your strategic clients . It can be particularly worthwhile when the requests come in high volumes and at high frequency.

Bogusław Reich
Implementation Project Manager at XTRF and former Project Manager at Argos Multilingual - a major Polish translation agency. Boguslaw has been in the localization industry for nearly 10 years.
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