Cost More Important Than Quality, Says the Translation Bureau

I was reading the Benchmarking and Comparative Analysis report which was released by the Translation Bureau and a quote caught my attention:

“With some exceptions such as certified or legal documents, quality is not considered as important to clients as cost”.
The Translation Bureau – Benchmarking and Comparative Analysis (2012)

Before delving into what this quote means to translation businesses, I want to explain the “fast, cheap, good” pricing strategy and how it fits into an overall consumer strategy for buying and a company strategy for pricing. This pricing method has been a mainstay in business for decades. Here is a quick rundown:
Essentially, a customer can pick two of three of these qualities when purchasing a product or service: fast, cheap, good”.

• If you want it fast and cheap, it won’t be good
• If you want it cheap and good, it won’t be fast
• If you want it fast and good, it won’t be cheap

In the market in general, we’re seeing a shift in consumer behavior. In my opinion, quality has become assumed and companies are left to compete on price and speed. This isn’t a problem in highly regulated industries but I think it spells disaster for consumers when purchasing services from industries that aren’t required to adhere to national and international standards.

For the translation industry, this purchasing strategy (cheap>quality) is dangerous. With the high availability of machine translation software, consumers may run the risk of improper translations from companies that choose to neglect quality in favor of price and speed.

In our industry, consumers should focus not on cost, but on return-on-investment. If you follow the news, we’re seeing countries spending exorbitant amounts of money correcting poor translations on public signage. What was cheap is no longer. In other areas, just as an example, a poorly translated website may be less costly initially but errors in translation can lead to fewer conversions in international markets. You may even end up offending someone because of differences in cultural context. Before deciding on a company purely from a cost-perspective, at least ensure they adhere to third-party standards. Price is important but quality translations are critical to your organization in the long run.

To my readers, are you finding this in your industries? What effect do you think this has had on your pricing strategy? I’m interested to know.

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