Telephone interpreters

Effective Global Communication is just a Phone Call Away

The role of telephone interpretation has changed beyond recognition in the last couple of decades. What started as a tool to help Australian immigrants with limited English proficiency access the emergency services, now allows us to communicate seamlessly with people overseas.

The internet has added to this global reach by making it possible to access websites from all over the world. This presents a huge opportunity for businesses of every shape and size.

However, a problem still persists. The language barrier for many companies is the one obstacle that can slow their success overseas. Even small businesses can now enter foreign markets without the need for an established and expensive physical presence, but direct communication with international customers, clients and partners remains an unavoidable part of expansion.

Thankfully, rather than battling against the prohibitive price of foreign travel, Linguistica’s telephone interpreting services now allow businesses to communicate with foreign prospects at a tiny fraction of the cost.

How does our telephone interpreting service work?

Telephone interpreting services allow you to communicate with individuals who do not share a common language via an interpreter on a three-way phone line. The vast majority of telephone interpreting takes place consecutively. That is, you speak, then pause to wait for the interpreter to summarise or repeat verbatim what you have said in the third party’s language. The interpreter then repeats their reply to you in English.

The main advantage of our telephone interpreting service is that no specialist equipment is required. All you need is a telephone and an account number which we will provide you with.

What about the price?

Due to the varying time zones at play, a telephone interpreting provider should be there to support you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Linguistica does just that.

You never know when you’ll need to pick up the phone and speak to a distributor, supplier or prospect overseas, so it’s important you only pay for the talk time you need. We charge just £1.85 + VAT per minute, which is billed by the second.

There should also be no minimum spend, so you can use our telephone interpreters as much or as little as you need.

How can you determine the quality of a telephone interpreting service?

Whether it’s in person, by email, or over the phone, communication within an international business or with customers and clients overseas should be efficient, fluid and effective. Misunderstandings can be expensive and damaging to productive business relationships, which is why a trial and error method of determining the quality of an interpreting service is a risky approach to take.

Telephone interpreting is a very specific skill, so working with specialist telephone interpreters, rather than linguists who work across a spectrum of services, is always a good start.

Telephone interpreters require specialist training and qualifications. Achieving the highest standard of qualification relies on impeccable comprehension, first class language abilities, comprehensive knowledge of industry specific terminology and excellent customer service skills.

Telephone interpreters also require the technological prowess to deal with unavoidable issues which can hamper communication. Poor sound quality, interference on the line or distracting noises will reduce the clarity of your message. Only when a telephone interpretation service offers this level of expertise can you be sure your voice is heard.

We’re ready to take your call…

Seamless global communication is just a phone call away. At Linguistica International, we help hundreds of organisations connect instantly with customers and clients overseas. Please call +44 2392 987 765 or email: info@linguistica-international.com to see how we can help you.

 

Expanding overseas

When is the Right Time to Expand Your Business Overseas?

Let’s face it. Christmas Eve is probably not the best time to expand your business overseas. What with all the last minute present buying and Christmas tipples, there’s more than enough to keep you busy. But if Christmas Eve isn’t the best time to expand your business, when is?

While selling overseas will widen your company’s reach, you should not move into international markets without properly establishing your business on home turf. In this festive edition of the Linguistica International blog, we’ll take a look at five questions you should ask before making that leap.

1. Do you have solid foundations in the domestic market?

Putting the provisions and processes in place to maintain the day-to-day running of your business is a crucial building block before expanding into new markets. Could your domestic business continue to function if you or your senior employees were absent, or spending the majority of your time chasing opportunities overseas?

An important factor in your decision will be your ability to move senior staff from their current responsibilities to focus on the expansion. There’s also nothing to stay they’ll have the necessary skills to develop successful overseas sales and marketing operations. If you don’t have the skills in-house, is training the best bet or should you hire new staff? At the very least, you’ll need someone to be accountable for the export sales part of the business.

2. How will you find new talent in another country?

Finding the right local talent can help your business make its mark overseas. However, many countries will simply not have the skilled labour you’ll need. You’ll also be competing with more established companies who understand how to identify and recruit the best local talent.

One potential source of great local talent will be places of further education, such as business schools or engineering programs. What the candidates lack in real world experience, they’ll more than make up for in enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and lower wages.

3. Can you adapt to the local culture?

Your ability to adapt to the culture is more important in some markets than others. Countries like France and Japan have a strong sense of culture and expect overseas companies to conform to their way of doing things.

In this case, you may have to customise your product to satisfy the tastes and preferences of local customers. At the very least, you’ll have to make sure your marketing message and website has been transcreated in the local lingo.

4. How will you pay for your overseas expansion plans?

The start-up period for many overseas expansions lasts longer than most entrepreneurs anticipate. You have to expect the new operation to run at a loss for a period of time, and be able to sustain this loss. So, not only do you need the initial capital to invest in the infrastructure to make an overseas expansion possible; you also need to have a workable long-term financial plan in place.

Initial forecasts are notoriously inaccurate so make sure you rework your plans as the actual revenues and expenses become clear. No business should expect to enter a new market and turn a profit right away. Businesses that expand successfully are in it for the long-haul.

5. Could you expand your online presence instead?

It is not always necessary to establish a physical presence abroad to expand into foreign markets. Those businesses with a strong online presence can simply adapt their operation to offer overseas shipping and expand their payment options.

Selling online through an ecommerce partner with established international credibility is far more cost effective than building a local presence online. However, in some markets you will still need to develop websites that accept the local currency and are written in the native language.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us here at Linguistica International. We’ve enjoyed an unbelievable 2014, and hope next year brings much of the same for all of our wonderful clients!

How can Your Small Business Compete with Global Brands Overseas

How can Your Small Business Compete with Big Brands Overseas?

As consumers, we’re benefit obsessed. We’re always on the lookout for products and services that deliver the most bang for our buck. Whether it’s better prices, an improved service or the ability to respond to the specific needs of individual customers, small businesses hold all the cards they need to trump national players in the local market.

But what happens when small businesses harbour lofty ambitions in markets overseas? Can they ever hope to get one over on the global players? Small businesses don’t have the luxury of massive advertising budgets, large teams of developers, marketers and sales staff, or any of the economies of scale associated with global corporations.

However, in the world of international business, bigger is not always better, and as the world moves into the increasingly faceless digital age, consumers still value the unique, personalised experiences small organisations provide.

So, if you’re a small business, here are a few tips to help you make an indelible mark on markets overseas…

Create a localised plan

There are plenty of examples of large brands entering new markets  without properly planned international expansion programmes. Groupon made this mistake in 2011, when they entered the Chinese market with a westernised management team who had no previous experience working in China.

Small businesses are perfectly equipped to evolve their plan to capitalise on opportunities or sidestep potential threats. Large, sprawling organisations are slower to adapt to market conditions, and any mistakes in their initial planning can take a long time to correct.

Collaborate with local firms

One unassailable weapon in the global business’ arsenal is the ability to access the resources they need to succeed in overseas markets. Small businesses simply cannot compete with this level of investment.

However, smaller businesses can bypass this resource restriction by developing mutually beneficial partnerships with local companies. This enables smaller businesses to share resources such as office space and other infrastructure, while benefiting from the native company’s innate understanding of market conditions and culture.

Personalise your messages

Regardless of the culture of the country you are moving into, customers always respond more positively to messages that are personalised to target their particular market. Personalised messages play an important part in generating brand awareness, customer loyalty and retention rates. It’s all about hitting the right customer with the right message. To achieve this, market research is essential.

Large brands often rely on automated tools to generate their marketing messages, sometimes with disastrous results. One example occurred just last year, when Amazon suggested UK customers browsing balaclavas might also be interested in their comprehensive selection of baseball bats!

Make a mark with social

Even successful brands can be daunted by the prospect of starting afresh in new markets around the world. Thankfully, social media is an effective method of dipping your toe in the water, allowing you to establish a potential market before you physically set foot in another country.

As always, gaining leverage in a foreign market through social media will rely on the localisation of your social media page and all of your updates. For your activity to be deemed authentic, you should either hire community managers who speak the local lingo, or work with a translation agency that employs mother tongue translators capable of recreating posts in the colloquialisms native to that culture.

And that’s where our transcreation service can help. So please call +44 2392 987 765 or email: info@linguistica-international.com for more information.

Happy Birthday to Linguistica International!

Happy Birthday Linguistica International… Six Years and Counting!

It’s probably not all that dignified to wish yourself a happy birthday, but once you reach the ripe old age of six, you tend not to care; after all, it’s our party and we’ll cry if we want to.

Thankfully though, there’ll be no tears, because Linguistica International has had another barnstorming year. We actually can’t believe how lucky we’ve been, and we want to sincerely thank each and every one of our fantastic clients for their continued business, and all of our mother tongue translators for the exceptional standard of their work.

The Early Days…

To say the success we have experienced to date is unexpected would not be true; after all, we wouldn’t have started a business if we expected it to fail. But we certainly have been surprised by the tremendous growth we’ve achieved to date.

We formed Linguistica International in 2008, right at the start of the economic crisis. The downturn was beginning to kick in and many of our friends and colleagues thought we were crazy to start our own business at such a precarious time.

The business itself began in the spare room of a frustrated translator. The source of the frustration was the lack of professionalism and the sloppy work that so many translation agencies were willing to let slide. The realisation dawned on us that the only way to produce the calibre of work we were happy to put our names to was to set up on our own. Yes, the timing might have been bad, but it really was our only option.

Sustained Growth

Linguistica International was born in a time of austerity, but we’re incredibly proud that during these bleak years for many, we were able to grow our business year-on-year while a number of our competitors were forced to fold. In fact, through the recession we achieved an average annual growth of 50 percent.

Now the economic situation is looking just a little bit brighter we have been able to increase our rate of growth substantially, so much so that are we already 55 percent up on our end of year figures for 2013. And all this is thanks to the hard work of our dedicated team.

Client Retention Rates

The underlying reason for our success is the quality of translation we insist on. We did not start this business to become the type of sloppy translation agency we were desperate to get away from. We had a simple choice: to rush through a piece of work and deliver mediocre translations that underwhelm our clients; or take the time to produce a piece of work that we can be proud of. No contest!

So far our drive to produce the highest quality work has been reflected in our customer retention rates. We currently retain 90 percent of our clients. In 2015, we want it to be 100 percent!

Whether you’d like to wish us a happy birthday, or simply put an order in for some work, we’d love to hear from you. Please call +44 2392 987 765 or email: info@linguistica-international.com to get in touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fine line between localisation and globalisation

Treading The Fine Line Between Localisation And Globalisation

No brand can be all things to all people, but that doesn’t prevent companies from having a darn good go. As a professional translation team that works with global brands such as Santander and Manchester United, as well as many small and medium-sized enterprises, we are constantly treading the fine line between localisation and globalisation. Huge brands want the familiarity and personal service associated with local brands, while genuinely local brands strive to convey the trust and credibility commonly associated with bigger businesses.

Building a strong global brand has never been easy, but once achieved, it does create an array of efficiency benefits that can give globalised businesses the upper hand. However, every new market is different, and a standardised approach will often lack the common touch people love.

A new brand entering into a new market has to work harder than established native brands to grab the attention of potential customers. Localisation is one approach global business use to earn the trust and respect of local people, and to position their brand closer to the consumer. But is localisation always the best approach?

The decision to localise

Localisation is an expensive process, so the decision whether to localise your business for specific markets requires plenty of research and analysis. However, in some cases the decision is simple.

For example, if your business strategy relies on local work or production, or if your original brand is based on colours or a name indicative of another culture, the localisation of your message to create a brand with a local look and feel will be central to your success.

However, the localisation decision is rarely so black and white. In most cases the fine line between brand features and cultural adaptation can cause companies to struggle with questions like:

  • Do the brand’s colours create a favourable impression in the foreign market?
  • Are the brand’s icons clearly understood in the new market?
  • Does your tagline translate into other languages without losing its meaning?
  • Is your offering even relevant to consumers living in this other culture?
  • Are poor sales the result of a reluctance to localise, or are they simply the result of insufficient demand?

The issue is: to what extent do multinational companies integrate or differentiate their operations between separate national markets?

The benefits of localisation

  • Gain a competitive advantage – If the competition localises its products or is made up of native producers, localisation will help you keep up. Alternatively, selling and serving your customers in their own language will give you a definite advantage over competitors with English-only products.
  • Show commitment to international customers – A localised website for specific customer groups highlights the company’s commitment to delivering information to consumers in their native tongue.
  • Build a strong local and international image – A localised presence will help your business project a strong international image that will benefit customers globally and locally.
  • Communicate effectively with customers and prospects – The localisation of your customer support operations can help international users better understand and apply your products and services. The result is an improved customer experience.
  • Improve market penetration – Localising your products will give customers in new markets a compelling reason to buy your products. Increasing market penetration in existing markets through localisation also represents a cost effective alternative to entering new international regions.

As a British company, it’s all too easy to think of English as the language of your business. In reality, the language of your business is the language of the customer. A professional localisation service can help your business find its voice in any market.

For more information abut localising your business’ key messages, please get in touch with our experienced team of mother tongue linguists today.

Dodgy translation

How Can You Be Sure That Your Translation Isn’t Terrible?

It’s one thing getting a sales brochure translated into Spanish or translating an important contract into Mandarin, and it’s another thing making sure the finished article is word perfect.

Finding a translator is simple enough, but feeling confident that the foreign language finished article is spot on is a far trickier task. Unfortunately, it may not be not until your Spanish brochure provokes sniggers in Madrid or your Mandarin contract leaves you in a legal jumble that you’ll discover your translation is less than perfect.

A multilingual pickle

Multilingual pickle

So how can you solve this multilingual pickle? The whole reason you need to work with a translator is because you don’t speak the language. But if you can’t speak the language, you can’t vouch for the quality of the translation. Sales copy could be dry and fail to convey your brand identity in the hands of your Arabic translator. Your live Greek telephone interpreter could garble your message and lose you a valuable lead…

It’s a catch 22 which can really play on your mind if you’re not confident about the translation service you’re using, particularly if your working relationship is new. Fortunately, there are a few checks you can perform and tests you can do to make sure that the translation you’re receiving is top notch…

1. Hire a proofreader or editor

If you have any concerns about the accuracy, fluency or style of a piece of translation work you have had done, the services of a native speaking proofreader or editor will put your mind at rest.

If you simply want to ensure the translation is accurate, ask a proofread to look over the text and provide a report on accuracy of spelling and grammar. If you have more in-depth concerns about the tone, sense and style, look for a native speaking editor to report back on the overall feel and tone of voice of the piece in the translated language.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that your proofreader or editor will be of a high quality, but the more eyes you run your translation under, the more confident you can be that your original translator has hit the nail on the head.

2. Look for accreditations

Accreditations from professional associations are a good sign that your translator knows what they are doing. There are lots of these associations all over the world, some common acronyms to look out for include:

The BDÜ (Germany)
The GTI (Global Translation Institute)
The CiOL or the ITI (UK)
The ATA (US)
The JAT (Japan)

3. Phone a friend

Who wants to be a millionaire german

If you have a contact fluent in the language of translation , take a few moments of their precious time to run the translation past them. It doesn’t matter if they do not speak your language fluently or aren’t trained as an editor – if there’s something seriously squiffy or not on brand, they’ll be able to identify a problem which you can then discuss with your translator or an alternative provider.

4. Run a “back translation”

If you’re just starting out with a new translator and want to build trust, consider asking another provider to back translate the copy. This means that you ask another service to translate your translation back into your native language to check for accuracy and style. If you get back something similar to your original piece, your original translator’s probably doing a pretty good job!

There are, however, a few things to watch out for with this kind of approach:

    • If the back translation guys are aware that they are checking another translator’s work, they may accentuate the negative in order to snaffle your business
    • A poor translation could be the fault of inaccurate work on the part of the back translator – not the original translator – and it will be hard for you to tell

5. Pay another company to check your translation

Red Pen - MistakeInstead of running a blind “back translation” (where the other company are unaware they are “checking” another translator’s work), many translators offer a proofing or error checking service which you can use to review your original translator’s output. Unfortunately, these services are effectively paid to find errors, which can mean that a perfectly accurate and stylistically spot on piece of translation work is unfairly subject to the big red pen.

Ultimately, feeling confident in a translation service is all about building trust. The tests and checks outlined above can highlight potential issues , but they’re not as effective when it comes to identifying outstanding translation. Confidence in your translator can be gained through relationship building and confirmation from unbiased native speakers. Bad translation can be ruled out with our suggested tests.

Looking for an outstanding translator who really understands your needs, whether you’re marketing a product or negotiating a highly technical contract? Perhaps you’re interested in fair, impartial back translation to ensure your translator’s quality? Explore Linguistica International’s services online or tell us all about your experiences in the comments section below.

People celebrating International Translation Day

Happy International Translation Day!

Imagine it’s the 30th September. That shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s a Tuesday, so you’re probably at work, the weather’s reasonable, dry and quite balmy for the time of year, and it’s only flippin’ International Translation Day!

That’s right. As firm believers in fashionably late, Linguistica International is here just a week on from the main event to spread a little Translation Day cheer. So party hats on please and goodie bags at the ready as we celebrate International Translation Day in style.

First, a little history

Before things get out of hand, let’s step back in time to the inaugural International Translation Day. It’s 1953 and International Translation Day has just been established by the International Federation of Translators (FIT), making it one of the more recent entries into the calendar of world events. In 1991, the FIT launched the idea of an officially recognised day to show the solidarity of the translation community and promote the translation profession.

The date of International Translation Day, the 30th September, was chosen to coincide with the feast of St. Jerome. This Christian scholar and priest was the first person to translate the Bible into Latin from the original Hebrew, making it accessible to a much wider audience. For these services rendered, St Jerome is universally acknowledged as the patron saint of translators.

Some other international celebration days

We thought we’d take a quick look at a few other international days of celebration to add a little context.

• Today (8th October) is simultaneously Pet Obesity Awareness Day, World Octopus Day and Bring your Teddy Bear to Work Day
• Yesterday was International Bathtub Day
• Tomorrow will be Mouldy Cheese Day

So that should give you some idea of the gravitas of International Translation Day, which is why we’re making such a fuss!

Translation Day party games

For all you aspiring translators, here are a few translation party games that can help to improve your foreign language skills.

Sporcle offer a range of free translation games, from foreign language basics to deciphering a range of badly translated movie quotes. There’s something for every level of language ability, from beginners to language experts.

Of course, there is a huge difference between being bilingual and working as a professional translator. At Linguistica International, the quality of all our translations is assured by the use of professional mother tongue translators with at least five years’ language experience and relevant translation qualifications.

Fascinating translation facts

Did you know that:

• A typical professional translator will translate between 300,000 and 1,000,000 words per year!
• The Bible is not the most translated book – at least in full. A 2011 Jehovah’s Witnesses publication “Listen to God and Live Forever” has been translated into more languages.
• Pinocchio, written by Carlo Collodi, has been translated from the original Italian into over 240 languages.
• Bilinguals are often found to be more creative, better problem solvers and better planners than monolinguals.
• 99 percent of Latvians can speak two or more languages, compared with just 18 percent of Americans.
• Papua New Guinea is the most linguistically diverse country, with 830 indigenous languages.
• A total of 3.457 billion people speak the world’s ten most popular languages. That’s almost half the population of the planet, despite the fact that there are over 6,000 different languages and cultures across the world.

Stay tuned to the Linguistica International blog as we pack our party frocks away and get back to business in the coming weeks with more translation hints, tips and critiques. For more information about how we can help your business, please get in touch with our friendly translation team today.

 

 

 

Multilingual SEO

5 Common Multilingual SEO Mistakes You Should Avoid

Going global can be daunting. Of course it can. You’re opening up your business to a diverse range of challenges, regulations and cultural differences that can make your business vulnerable. However, with burgeoning markets in South America, South East Asia and India, it’s clear to see why going global is a risk so many businesses are willing to take.

In the US, one in every two people purchases goods and services online. In the UK, this figure drops to one in three. In Latin America, it’s one in six; while in South East Asia, just one in eight people buy goods and services online.

In the saturated US and UK markets, the cost of search engine optimisation (SEO) is escalating beyond the reach of many smaller operators. The top rankings for the most competitive search terms are the preserve of large corporations with bumper budgets. But there are plenty of opportunities for smaller operators overseas, as long as you avoid these 5 common multilingual SEO mistakes.

1. Choosing the wrong keywords

This is a big mistake that can spell disaster for your efforts overseas. Too many businesses rush the keyword research stage of the process, failing to recognise its role in underpinning their entire SEO strategy.

The mishap so many businesses make is to perform a literal translation of keywords from their domestic market. Instead, an entirely new set of keyword research should be completed in the native language of the new market. This will reveal the search volume and competition for the terms the native population are searching for.

2. Pinning all your hopes on Google

Google might call the shots on our fair isle, dominating internet search with an 89 percent share of the market, but this is not replicated across the rest of the world. Yahoo and Bing share a number of bolt holes, while native search engines such as Yandex in Russia, Baidu in China and Naver in South Korea rule the roost.

To succeed overseas, you need to dance to the beat of the dominant search engine’s drum. Each will have its own algorithms and indexing policy to attribute rankings to your website. And if you’re unsure how to appease the native search engines, consult a local expert.

3. Failing to make Multilingual mark-ups

Excuse us for a second while we get technical, but this is a really important point. You need to tell Google that certain parts of your website content have been created specifically for other locations. It can be a pretty complicated process, but here’s everything you need to know.

4. A lack of local domains

Your website domain can play an important part in the success of your website overseas. Many larger companies choose to use a .com as their top level domain, with subdirectories for websites designed for international markets. If you have ‘.co.uk’ website, you should certainly consider a country specific domain such as .fr (France) or .es (Spain) etc. This creates reassurance and familiarity amongst local customers.

5. Ignoring local market trends

Despite the reduced level of competition, you’ll still need to build links to your local domain to rank in the organic search listings for your most competitive key terms. Understanding local market trends and the variations in internet usage between markets should form the basis of your SEO strategy. In Korea, a good blog is essential. If you want to rank in China, having servers located in China will certainly help you along.

Have you learnt any of these lessons the hard way? Are there any other mistakes you’ve made that have halted your progress? Please leave your two cents’ worth in the comments section below.

DYI short text translation does not always end well

The problems posed by short text translation

At one time or another we’ve all been exposed to a hapless example of short text translation. As you can see from the picture above, poor use of language and clumsy translation often stands in the way of the very best attentions to inform, intrigue, or merely keep us away from harm.

The problems posed by short text translation are well known by industry experts and all those of you have come across amusing translation mistakes of your own. The trouble is, with such short pieces of text, some businesses find it just too tempting to save a couple of quid by attempting some translations of their own, often with the help of Google translate. Our experience in the industry has taught us that, however easy a spot of short text translation might seem, it’s one area which is always best left to the professionals.

Common short text translation mistakes

The Rush Job

Many of the companies that turn to us for professional translation assistance are working to tight budgets and deadlines. That’s fine by us, because we can turn projects around nice and quickly to meet even the most demanding deadlines. But what happens when there’s a last minute change to a document we’ve already translated, or a few words are added to a brochure, document or website page? That’s when mistakes can occur.

Rather than sending the extra text back to the professionals, sometimes marketing managers and web developers opt to take a short cut. So, off they go to Google translate; and therein lies their mistake.

Google translate is an incredibly clever tool for producing very general translations, but when you need a piece of text to be precise, as all good short text communications should be, automated translation tools are of next to no use.

The Contextual Cock-Up

Context is essential in accurate language translation. With so many homonyms at play, creating an accurate translation is only possible when a word is considered in context. At the last count, there were an estimated 6,139 documented homonyms in the English language, so there’s plenty of room for error.

For example, the word ‘bear’ can mean:

• To hold up; support: To bear the weight of a roof
• To give birth to: To bear a child
• To produce by natural growth: A tree that bears fruit
• The big, cuddly (sometimes aggressive) animal you find in the woods

Put the word ‘bear’ into Google translate and you never know which meaning your translation will assume. Get it wrong, and you’ll be left with a short text translation that makes a laughing stock of your best laid plans.

So, the moral of this story is: Whether it’s a big chunk of text or just a handful of words, the only way to be assured of a word perfect translation is to work with mother tongue linguists who understand the nuances and context of their language.

Have you seen any short translation blunders you’d like to share? Please leave your examples in the comments section below.

Image credits: Chris Radley

 

Cross-cultural communication is not always easy!

The importance of effective cross-cultural communication

In today’s globalised business environment, effective cross-cultural communication and competence is more important than ever before. With the economic downturn and opportunities created by the web, many businesses that previously lacked the infrastructure to expand are now venturing into new markets overseas.

A business’ ability to communicate across cultural divides is key to the level of success it can expect to achieve in foreign markets. While expansion into Western Europe or North America may provide linguistic divides, the cultural diversity at play is relatively minimal. However, cast your eyes further afield, to Asia, Eastern Europe or South America, and there’s a cultural chasm that can lead to misunderstandings and damaging blunders that can cost you prospective customers and clients.

The barriers to cross-cultural communication

Cultural generalisations and stereotypes can present a huge challenge for businesses with international aspirations. A simple choice such as a translation service rather than a full transcreation of your website can alienate prospective customers and limit the success of your expansion overseas.

In many cases there are cross-cultural communication ‘rules’ a business will not know exist. Then there are the nuances of language that a simple translation will not account for. The recreation of your website by a mother-tongue linguist who lives in the target country will ensure your marketing communications take account of the relevant linguistic and cultural conventions.

The evolution of language

Companies that successfully make their mark on overseas markets pay attention to the trends and evolution present in language. The introduction of social media presents both a challenge and an opportunity for overseas companies. While this platform levels the playing field by allowing new entrants with minimal budgets to compete with established, domestic based businesses, the colloquial language on social media can make if difficult for non-domestic businesses to build a following.

Improving your cross-cultural communication skills

Your level of domestic communication and people skills count for nothing when you set foot in new markets. Of course, an organisation’s ability to communicate effectively overseas will improve with international experience and increased exposure to different cultures. However, if you want to hit the ground running, here are a few methods of improving your cross-cultural communication.

• A simple telephone interpretation service can help you communicate with foreign clients and customers from the off. Fast, effective communication allows you to bypass language barriers and cross cultural divides without having to invest heavily in a foreign language customer service team.

Foreign language copywriting allows you to market to overseas customers in an authentic and believable way. Creating native marketing materials can convince overseas customers they are dealing with a domestic supplier.

• Businesses based in the UK can pay a small fee for a native business address and phone number to win the trust of overseas customers. An overseas business address and phone number is a thinly veiled façade if your website is written in English, but if you’ve gone to the trouble of transcreating your website under a foreign URL, a native address and phone number are the perfect finishing touch.

Has your business borne the brunt of any cross-cultural communication blunders? Perhaps you’re currently expanding into new markets overseas? Either way, we’d love to hear from you, so please share your experiences in the comments section below.