A Localisation Buyer’s Perspective on Understanding Customers

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Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend the inaugural Think Global Forum in Europe (London specifically), which was hosted by VistaTec.  The purpose of the greater Think Global Forum is a to develop the insights and industry outputs that are then shared with the wider global community. The industry focus for yesterdays event was the global travel industry, which makes a lot of sense given the significant significant presence global travel companies have in the UK.  There were some people in attendance I haven’t seen in a long time and the chilled out atmosphere and intimate setting made it possible for me to chat with just about everyone.

Julio Neves, Senior Director, Localization, Media and Content Solutions at Expedia, Inc. gave the keynote talk,which highlighted the challenges of delivering local content on a global scale.  Given the number of companies under the Expedia umbrella, the number of languages they support and the need to have an intimate understanding of todays traveller in all its various forms, I was mightily impressed with the sheer volume of content his team needs to deliver on what I imagine is a daily (or even hourly) basis.

The comment Julio made that struck me most was the absolute need for Expedia and its employees to understand todays traveller.  He emphasised several times that the company’s (and his job) is to understand what various types travellers want–for example, experiential holidays that could be focused on culture or sport or a theme–and delivering the right options to the right people at the right time in the way in which they expect to receive it (in their language and culturally appropriate).

It’s global travellers who are driving Expedia’s localisation efforts–from travel product development to content development through to delivering localised content–which is in turn driving their translation suppliers’ efforts (speedy delivery times, among other challenging requirements).

It’s easy to forget what is driving many of our customers when we are localising their content.  Developing an intimate understanding of your customer’s business drivers, challenges and plans can help you to become the strategic parter you’d like to be (at least with the right customers).  Gaining a deep understanding of your customers business drivers (and their customers’ motivations) gives you an edge over your less informed competition.  You’ll be the go-to supplier for brainstorming solutions, because your insights will enable you to develop them.  You’ll have more information to develop solutions pro-actively that will save your customer time or offer more compelling localised content for THEIR customers.   We are all looking for ways to differentiate ourselves.  This is surely one way to do it for our most important customers.

I don’t think it matters which industry it is you are serving.  All of your customers are struggling with similar issues:  intense competition, time constraints, customers wanting everything yesterday, grappling with the impact of ever-changing technology and figuring out how to deliver on this at a local level, many times on a global scale.   Learn about your version of the traveller and see if this doesn’t help you build better solutions for your customers and stronger, more secure customer relationships.  The more people in your organisation who understand this, especially customer-facing employees, the more valuable your LSP will be to customers in all these respects.

One way to help your employees, particularly project managers, gain greater insights about their customers is my Selling Skills for Translation Project Managers online course in November.  They will learn about buyer motivations, how to improve customer communications and follow up, how to recognise sales opportunities and how to leverage their client relationships to win more business.

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