29 May Value Interpreting in the New Normal
As far as the client is concerned, what we do is simple: repeat what someone else is saying in a different language. And that is the vision of many, since before the new normal became reality. How can they value our work when that is their image of the interpreter?
During the pandemic, the fact that we don’t even have to leave our homes, deal with traffic, extra expenses related to gas, parking, or meals, means to our clients that our services can be offered at a lesser price. They have a hard time attaching a cash value to our work, though they do recognize its value. Go figure.
The invisible added value
What they do not see is all the preparation, the knowledge, skills acquisition and development, CPD courses, special training in different platforms, extra equipment, the extra strain on our eyes, mental stress, etc.
How could the clients know? Not many interpreting professionals have taken the time to explain the details to their clients and some agencies are under the erroneous assumption that the client is right: Why are you charging more if you are working from home?
Well, besides what I have stated above, the main thing is that our profession comes with a built-in value system developed over the years. It also comes with standards, rules, expectations. Most of these features are flexible, but that flexibility must be exercised with care.
The savvy professional
Charge by hour? Why not? Make sure you keep your hourly minimum and include the extras in the price you give your customer (redundant internet, a second computer, maybe a colleague as a back-up, special insulation, etc.). How can we help our clients to see this?
One way is to make sure your unit price (hourly, minimum, half-day, full-day) is enough to cover your extras. Let your clients know how you have prepared yourself to better serve them in the present circumstances. That means, telling them about your equipment, your internet speed, your training.
Decloaking the invisible added value
Your website is a good marketing tool and an ideal place to share important information with your clients—especially information that will increase your value to them. If you do not have your own website, remember your online profile in the NAJIT professional directory and directories in other professional associations you belong to. If you have a blog, start writing about all that we discussed. LinkedIn is a good place to network with potential clients. And do not forget your CV. Please, update it.
Let your clients know that you have the right type of headphone. Write down the features that make it ideal, that means you do not just say you have a good headphone—your client may not know what that means. Be specific: you have a headphone equipped with directional, noise-canceling microphone (if that is true, if not, go get one). That is the type of information your client does not know about but can attach value to.
Tamber Hilton and Katty Kaufman have generously shared a series of videos on the subject of remote interpreting in which they give us pointers in terms of equipment, our responsibilities, and you can also learn the lingo.
Yes, I am talking about client education through your marketing. It is your professional image, your livelihood, your business. Take control.
Brazilian-born Giovanna “Gio” Lester, Co-Chair of NAJIT’s PR Committee, started her career in translation and interpreting in 1980. Gio is very active in her profession and in the associations she is affiliated with. In 2009, she co-founded the Florida ATA Chapter (ATIF), served as its first elected president (2011-2012), and later as president of its interim board.
As an international conference interpreter, Gio has been the voice of government heads and officials, scientists, researchers, doctors, hairdressers, teachers, engineers, investors and more. Gio has been a contributor to The NAJIT Observer since its inception in 2011, and its Editor since 2016.
In 2017 she was appointed Chair of the Miami Dade College Translation and Interpretation Advisory Committee, which she had been a member of since 2014. In 2018, Gio was elected to the Executive Committee of the Brazilian Association of Translators and Interpreters, Abrates, as its General Secretary.