Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Babelfish me Baby – It’s a Global World in which we Live!

In my early days managing my real estate agency we used to have a client who was an Aussie ex pat living in South America. He once signed off an email to me with “adios” (Spanish for goodbye). Not wanting to be outdone, I started my next email to him with the only Spanish word I knew that wasn’t a type of food - “hola” (hello).

My client was impressed and let me know this in his next email. It was then that I got my courage up and found a great little way of making myself stand out on every email I sent to a global client from then onwards. I found Babelfish.

A Babel fish is a fictional species from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that can instantly translate any language into another. In my client service world however, Babelfish http://babelfish.altavista.com/ is the niftiest little online translator, brought to the world by search engine Altavista (the search engine that was all the rage before googling became a verb).

After catching my own Babel fish I took to writing a basic sentence in the foreign language of my client on each email.

Grazie per il vostro tempo e spero di comunicare presto. - Italian
(Thank you for your time and I hope to talk soon.)

Je vous souhaite chaque succès avec la vente de votre maison. - French
(I wish you every success with the sale of your home.)

One sentence, as simple as these examples above, was often enough to set me ahead my competition when pitching for work and almost always gave my client a nice warm fuzzy.

I only had one client who ever decided to write back to me completely in the foreign language (!) and we had a joint laugh together when I explained how I used Babelfish to assist me with foreign clients. The client was most impressed.

I typically use Babelfish when dealing with global clients, but there’s nothing to stop you using it to help you with local clients who may have English as a second language. If you’re going to take it one step further there are many online and local translation services who can perfectly translate your business letter or proposal into the language required for a relatively small fee (when you consider the potential impact). Tiny tip: I usually recommend translation services instead of Babelfish when the content is long or complicated, after all Babelfish is a simple online tool and the nuances of your content may not always be perfectly translated.

For a simple way to make you stand out on a global level with just seconds of effort – I couldn’t recommend Babelfish more!

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