It goes without saying that 2020 scrambled global business expectations and patterns. Different industries fared differently, and some companies suffered while others flourished. Global Sales Manager Jaroslava Ouzka answers questions about the pandemic year in review. How did our staff and our clients handle the challenges? What does Jaroslava see ahead in 2021?
Did you see any change in the type of projects your clients ordered in 2020?
In general, during 2020 we continued to receive the same type of assignments as we regularly receive from our clients. It was a very wide range of document types, subject matter and language pairs. But of course, in many respects 2020 was not business as usual! Throughout the year, and especially during the first wave of the pandemic, we received many Covid-related requests in the form of clients needing to communicate quickly and clearly with clients and employees worldwide. Skrivanek was able to fast-track these projects to meet client needs.
Did coronavirus change the way you communicate with your clients? How do you guarantee smooth processing of the jobs?
As a global top 50 Language Service Provider serving a worldwide clientele, Skrivanek’s international Sales and Project Management teams have always worked with clients via phone, email and other platforms. It depends upon their individual needs and capacities. In the last year, we have built on this “no one size fits all” customer service and now communicate with many clients through their platform of choice – Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype Blue Jeans, WebEx, WhatsApp and others, depending on what the client feels comfortable with. Of course, we always love meeting our clients (and potential clients) face to face at trade shows and events, and we hope it won’t be too long before we have the opportunity to do so again.
As to smooth processing, we did have to adapt quickly to the unusual circumstances of 2020. For instance, to ensure maximum safety and security all Skrivanek staff members were fully equipped early on to start working from home. We also developed and implemented a contingency plan to allow for rapid replacement of sick colleagues. As usual, Skrivanek’s quality control structures provided a solid foundation for our operations, and thankfully, our team has remained healthy so far.
Did the clients adjust well to the online world?
Yes, they did. I believe that most of our clients had a similar attitude to ours at Skrivanek that wherever possible the attitude should be business as usual and we did everything possible to make it that way. Perhaps we are lucky in that we work in an industry that already depends on clear communication, where contractual deadlines must be kept. On the client acquisition side of things, it’s only anecdotal, but we found that the WFH phenomenon actually had benefits for us: our Sales team often mentioned that potential clients working from home were less stressed, more open to discussing their translation needs, and fortunately or unfortunately there was always that situational topic in common as an ice breaker!
Were there any new services that you introduced because of the pandemic?
During 2020 we greatly strengthened our Remote Interpreting capacities, both linguistically and technically. Skrivanek has a long tradition of providing face to face and conference interpreting, but it quickly became clear that for the foreseeable future business travel was not going to be an option for most of our clients. So, we improved our options and capabilities from the technical point of view and are now able to offer an expanded talent pool of linguists and technicians to meet the interpreting needs of every client.
Do you think that the online world will have positive effects on the development of the translation industry?
Yes, I do. I believe that the ongoing situation will pressure us all into using many of the great technical solutions already available in our industry for communication, making the translation process more efficient — CRM, etc. I think we all had the experience of adopting something “new” last year out of necessity and now those things are part of everyday life.
Can you evaluate the year 2020 as a whole?
2020 was definitely not the business disaster that many people feared it would be as the problems first began to unfold. In fact, many of our long-standing clients had record spends with us, and in general this was not because of the translation of Covid-related materials. I believe our clients were happy to concentrate on their business not only to make a living, but also as a welcome distraction from the negative things going on everywhere.
What are your plans for 2021?
Skrivanek will continue to concentrate on the things that brought us success in 2020: an attentive and practical Sales team, excellent linguists and Subject Matter Experts, combined with an experienced and knowledgeable Project Management team. We have expanded our Sales team for the start of 2021 in order to bring our triple ISO-certified services to more clients worldwide, whatever 2021 brings!
Thank you Jaroslava!