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'Service-minded approach towards [CompanyName]'
Thread poster: Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 13:59
English to Polish
+ ...
Mar 7, 2014

I would like to comment on a new fad in translation agencies' standard contracts and job requirements: "service-minded approach towards [InsertName]". My comment: Lol, srsly?

The longer version is: What exactly are agencies thinking?


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JL01  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:59
English to French
+ ...
Free market Mar 7, 2014

A good thing about free market is that no one is obligated to accept something they don't like. Or something like that.
This being said, as an academic question and out of curiosity, I am interested in the answer to that question.


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 14:59
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
My take on it Mar 7, 2014

I'm not sure what "InsertName" stands for in your post, but I'll assume you mean your immediate client and venture a guess.

They expect you to be generally nice and accommodating to them. Think of a "How can I help you today?" attitude rather than a "What do you want from me?" or "What can you do for me?" attitude. It could mean answering lots of small questions for the client, advising on target-language-related matters, and/or actively looking out for additional ways to help the client achieve their localization goals. Or something else entirely. But definitely being generally helpful.

I don't think this is too demanding a requirement per se. If you can charge more (without making it too obvious) to be service-oriented, then why not? Put your soft skills to good use and get paid for it.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 13:59
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... Mar 7, 2014

Mikhail Kropotov wrote:

I'm not sure what "InsertName" stands for in your post, but I'll assume you mean your immediate client and venture a guess.


Agency.

They expect you to be generally nice and accommodating to them. Think of a "How can I help you today?" attitude rather than a "What do you want from me?" or "What can you do for me?" attitude. It could mean answering lots of small questions for the client, advising on target-language-related matters, and/or actively looking out for additional ways to help the client achieve their localization goals. Or something else entirely. But definitely being generally helpful.


I'm nice and helpful, and my own clients know this. But someone having the guts to pen it down that he wants you to be service-minded towards him is beyond my comprehension.

I don't think this is too demanding a requirement per se. If you can charge more (without making it too obvious) to be service-oriented, then why not? Put your soft skills to good use and get paid for it.


Our soft skills aren't waiter Skills, Mikhail. We don't go to translation school to learn those.


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 14:59
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Reading too much into it Mar 7, 2014

First of all, I think you just offended a lot of waiters (and waitresses).

Second, I think you're reading too much into it. Service doesn't equate to servitude. At least in US English.

But that's just my 2 cents.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 13:59
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
.... Mar 7, 2014

Mikhail Kropotov wrote:

First of all, I think you just offended a lot of waiters (and waitresses).


I've done things waiters don't have to do, in places far less nice than a common room.

Second, I think you're reading too much into it. Service doesn't equate to servitude. At least in US English.

But that's just my 2 cents.


No, there is no 1:1 comparison there, but imagine them telling the same to their lawyer or doctor or accountant.


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 06:59
German to English
+ ...
It seems nonsensical Mar 8, 2014

What is "service-minded approach" supposed to mean, and how will they be able to tell whether or not you were "service-minded"?

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Roy OConnor
Local time: 13:59
Member (2009)
German to English
Service-minded is a two-edged sword Mar 8, 2014

The UK moved to a service-orientated economy many years ago. These days BBC radio reports almost daily on dastardly tricks played by service companies and organisations on their customers. In my view a "service-minded approach" is not necessarily a good thing. I prefer the "you-pay-for-what-you-get" strategy where everyone knows where they stand and there are never any unpleasant surprises.

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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:59
Italian to English
Life is full of surprises Mar 8, 2014

Roy OConnor wrote:

The UK moved to a service-orientated economy many years ago. These days BBC radio reports almost daily on dastardly tricks played by service companies and organisations on their customers. In my view a "service-minded approach" is not necessarily a good thing. I prefer the "you-pay-for-what-you-get" strategy where everyone knows where they stand and there are never any unpleasant surprises.



Surely "service-minded" just means being able to read a situation from the customer's point of view as well as your own.

Not all customers have the same priorities and many have priorities that differ depending on the job in hand. Some might even ask you to re-order those priorities while work is in progress (publishers are fond of doing that sort of thing!). If you are "service-minded", you will try to understand what is important to the customer and adapt to it.

Otherwise you risk coming across as "bloody-minded"!


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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 13:59
German to Swedish
+ ...
Warning sign Mar 8, 2014

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

(...) new fad in translation agencies' standard contracts and job requirements: "service-minded approach towards [InsertName]".


It's a warning sign: They're used to treating their suppliers not as professionals, but as children.

After all, a supplier who isn't service-minded won't be a supplier for very long.
In any normal business relationship this would be self-evident to both the supplier and the customer, and not worth mentioning.

[Bearbeitet am 2014-03-08 11:49 GMT]


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Roy OConnor
Local time: 13:59
Member (2009)
German to English
Service has to be defined Mar 8, 2014

Don't get me wrong Giles. I'm not saying that we shouldn't provide service, just that the scope of the service should be defined at the start so that the translator can reflect this in the price he charges.

For example, there is a lot of difference in translating a nicely formatted Word document and having to convert a nasty PDF before translating it. This sort of thing should be explained to the client at the outset.


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Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 20:59
Japanese to English
+ ...
Yes Mar 8, 2014

Joakim Braun wrote:

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

(...) new fad in translation agencies' standard contracts and job requirements: "service-minded approach towards [InsertName]".


It's a warning sign: They're used to treating their suppliers not as professionals, but as children.



[Bearbeitet am 2014-03-08 11:49 GMT]


Pretty much sums it up.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 13:59
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... Mar 8, 2014

That's an interesting take, Joakim and Orryn.

Personally, I'm inclined to understand 'service-minded' as doing everything to please them (as opposed to just doing the job), being deferential and always smiling.

Or, in the words of a Lannister substeward: 'never look the highborn in the eye, nor speak until spoken to, nor get in his lordship's way.'*

And again, this isn't something like, 'service-minded approach, period.' That wouldn't even be so unnerving. The directionality in 'towards X', as in, 'service-minded approach towards Agency,' changes the meaning or at least the connotation of the phrase IMHO.

A while ago, sometimes even one's own military or political superiors would sign off as, 'your obedient servant,' when issuing orders. If not that, then at least everything but. However, nobody told the other that he wanted the other to be that obedient servant. Unless actually hiring servants.

... And I'm afraid that that's how translators are seen by some of the clients and agencies. Interpreters are even more so.


* G.R.R. Martin, Clash of Kings, Bantam Books paperback, p. 420


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 13:59
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Another concern Mar 8, 2014

Roy OConnor wrote:

Don't get me wrong Giles. I'm not saying that we shouldn't provide service, just that the scope of the service should be defined at the start so that the translator can reflect this in the price he charges.

For example, there is a lot of difference in translating a nicely formatted Word document and having to convert a nasty PDF before translating it. This sort of thing should be explained to the client at the outset.


I have another fear here, Roy. If things, or rather activities, such as handling and converting files, tying the loose ends of the client's own formatting, file-format or other technical aspects, perhaps OCR, scanning, the occasional transcription before translating (e.g. to enable the use of translation memory with text that's available in hard copy only) and so on, if those things are all defined in the purchase order, then well, we can complain for a while but just do them and comfort ourselves with the thought that they were necessary for the job and it wasn't practical to have someone else do them.

On the other hand, if they are not defined and delimited, they become available on-demand, and that effectively makes the translator a translator cum secretary cum IT technician. And that's perhaps not the worst job description for someone who is, say, in his or her early twenties, without any serious specialisations and without even full proficiency in the foreign language yet (e.g. C1 level in the primary foreign language). However, senior, specialised translators are a different cup of tea. It's not like the world will end when they scan a page or convert a file, but I hope by now we all see where I'm driving at.


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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 13:59
German to Swedish
+ ...
Intimidation Mar 8, 2014

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

Personally, I'm inclined to understand 'service-minded' as doing everything to please them (as opposed to just doing the job), being deferential and always smiling.


Ah yes, we don't really know what it means, do we? And that's the point.

It's undefined behavior, thus unenforcable in court.
Hot air, intended to intimidate the intimidatable.

[Bearbeitet am 2014-03-08 16:06 GMT]


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