Common Translation Services Hiccups and How to Avoid Them

Common Translation Services Hiccups and How to Avoid Them

Communication is key; this applies to any human interaction from explaining your destination to a taxi driver to closing a multi-million business deal. But having something to say doesn’t always mean you know how to say it.

In a time when services and products know no geographic boundaries, a primary communication obstacle is that of language. Thanks to the boom of the digital age, businesses can now resort to online translation services which get the job done faster and cheaper than ever before.

While finding a translator online should streamline the work process, many frustrated clients can tell you that this is not always the case.

The Nonmonetary Cost of Online Translation Services

Theoretically, completing a translation task successfully relies on two factors: the brief and the outcome. On the client end, a comprehensive brief of the project and its specific requirements must be communicated clearly. In turn, the translator is expected to abide by the specifics of the brief to provide satisfactory output.

This is fairly straightforward when done in person. But when it’s carried out online, it’s common for one or both parties to fall short.

A client may not be able to fully convey their requirements in the brief, or a translator may misinterpret the brief and complete the job in a way that doesn’t meet the client’s expectations.

As a result, many clients end up wasting time and money by having to either reassign the task to a new translator or prepare a new brief for the translator to make up for the shortcomings in the initial task – in short, nobody wins and both parties are left irritated.

As a client, the best way you can combat these issues head-on is to be fully prepared. In addition to understanding the exact requirements of your task, you should know the extent to which a service provider can (or cannot) help you by understanding the most common shortcomings of online translation services and how you can address them.

Every Online Translation Services Concern and Remedy


A company that wants to target Arabic speakers in Saudi Arabia and Egypt may assume that translating the communication messages to Arabic should suffice both markets. Many clients, and often inexperienced translators, overlook the fact that despite speaking the same language, the Saudi and Egyptian cultures are vastly different. Besides cultural sensitivities that must be considered, the popular use of language as well as dialects in each country differs. Such nuances may not be obvious to a good translator, but they make all the difference for a professional translator or a local customer.

This problem could present itself in various contexts ranging from formal proposals and agreements to less formal communications such as social media captions or promotional content.

Solution: When approaching a translation service provider, specify your target market and request that a native speaker or a locale expert undertakes or supervises the translation assignment.


Many online translation services don’t offer work samples before beginning the task which puts clients at risk. What if you pay a huge sum of money and end up with quality that doesn’t rise up to expectations? What if the task is urgent and you don’t have time to assign it to an editor? These considerations (understandably) make clients wary of trusting a new translation services company that they’ve never tried before.

Solution: Find a service provider with flexible terms that you’re comfortable with. Ask for a work sample before beginning the task so you can get a feel of the tone of voice and style before you commit to the task. If they can’t provide you with a work sample, request samples of previous work done by the translator to make sure their style is in tune with what you want to say. You can always agree on a payment plan that’s fair for both parties whereby part of the money is paid upon submitting part of the task.


Some companies translate content on a regular basis and prefer to deal with online translation services rather than full-time employees. While this is cheaper and more hassle-free in the long-term, it poses its own challenges.

Even if you’re dealing with the same online translation services company or agency, the odds of your tasks being delivered to the same translator every time are slim. This could result in inconsistent outcome that isn’t in tune with your tone of voice making your translated communication sound like it’s coming from different sources.

Solution: If you find a specific translator whom you’re comfortable with, try to assign them all relevant tasks. If they translated a company website, for example, then they should also translate the company profile. If sticking with the same translator isn’t feasible, include your existing content as a reference for future translators.

4. Industry-Specific Content

A professional translator’s language proficiency doesn’t necessarily mean they’re aware of jargon, or industry-specific terminology. If your company operates in a technical field like software development or fintech, this could be a recurring pain point. It could even be fatal in case of law firms where mistranslating a single term or clause could have grave repercussions.

Even if your industry isn’t high-risk, readers can always tell when content hasn’t been professionally written (or in this case, translated).

Solution: When approaching a translation company, check if they have industry-specific translators who are knowledgeable in your field of expertise.

5. Confidentiality

There’s no harm in resorting to free online machine translators when you’re struggling with a sentence or phrase. But what many users don’t know is that these services come with a hidden cost; many of them agree to handle to your content for free on the condition that the content you translate is no longer completely private1 .

While this may not pose a problem if you’re translating a social media caption or a news headline, it can be catastrophic for legal briefs, government documents, or sensitive company information (such as financial projections). Such lack of privacy can put your entire organization at risk.

Solution: Never use machine translation services for confidential content. Furthermore, once you start searching for a translation services provider, make sure that they can offer you a non-disclosure agreement and that their translators will uphold their code of ethics. Other companies, such as Tarjama, are ISO 27001 Certified for Information Security.

Ready to translate content online?

Translation is often the final layer on top of so much preceding work. Make sure you handle this layer with care so as not to waste any time, effort, or hard-earned credibility.

Work only with a trustworthy translation services company you’re comfortable dealing with. Some indications of professionalism and trustworthiness include the number of words they’ve translated to date, work samples, client portfolio, or testimonials.

Want to get started on your translation journey today?

Get in touch with our team of industry-specific experts, and have your documents and communications translated in utmost confidentiality.


Keep Reading