As a translation and interpretation company, international trade was a natural step for Global Voices. We spoke to them about the progression of their business and what they see the future being.
What does your company do?
Global Voices is an industry leading multinational language service provider that was founded over a decade ago. We have offices across Europe and North America and our headquarters are here in Stirling, Scotland.
We provide translation and interpretation services across a wide range of industries to many blue chip businesses.
Whilst what we do is of course very important, it is the how we do it that really sets us apart from any of our competitors. At Global Voices we pride ourselves on exceptional customer service and guarantee a first class, efficient and cost effective solution to your language requirements.
In a nutshell, our role is to allow our customers to communicate seamlessly with their clients around the globe. Any language, any dialect, any time of the year.
When was your company launched, who by and why?
Global Voices was launched over 12 years ago by myself (Luigi Koechlin) because I could see an opportunity in the market for a language service company that truly put its customers first. We are passionate about customer care and this is placed at the very heart of everything we do. This in turn has been recognised by many of our largest customers that have been with us throughout our exceptional journey.
How long has the company been exporting?
The nature of our business is such that that we have been exporting from the outset.
What do you currently export, and where to?
We offer exceptional translation and interpretation services across the globe supporting many industry leading brands with translation of their key communications, sports, news and critical lifesaving content that without an accurate, detailed and responsive service could - and would - cost companies their livelihoods and people their lives.
Our industry is about working with the very best individuals with the very highest level of expertise. There are many suppliers selling cheap translations using under-qualified linguists. This is not our offering, we will only ever use mother tongue, industry leading linguists with a minimum of five years’ experience. As I always say to the team “we are only ever as good as our last project”, and this is exactly why we make sure all our work is exceptional.
Our core markets for selling into are UK, Italy, France, Germany and the USA.
What motivated you to start selling overseas, and how long did it take?
Cross border communication is the very essence of our business and so deciding to internationalise our business was never going to be an option for us, it was a must!
With an international client base requiring support across many of their geographical locations we learned very early on in our journey that unless we were able to offer support to clients on a global scale many of our larger clients or potential clients simply could not work with us.
And so, we set out to develop our websites in multiple languages, translate our marketing materials and business cards into many languages and offer mother tongue account managers and project managers in some of our core languages.
Leveraging of our existing brand awareness in other countries has also been hugely beneficial and something that we have done extremely well, working with a client in multiple jurisdictions.
This all proved to be an excellent move forward and delivered considerably improved relationships and financial returns with our existing and new client base.
In addition we have always understood the benefit of diversifying our income streams geographically to reduce the financial risk.
What is the easiest part of exporting?
The easiest part for us has been talking about our services in many different languages. If you offer a truly industry leading service, as we do, and you ensure you are selling the service to people in their mother tongue, growing your business overseas becomes far more straightforward.
And the most challenging part?
We have faced many challenges from foreign exchange, culture, financial, payment terms etc, however without question staffing has to be the biggest challenge.
As a fast paced, forward looking business we are always looking to attract talented, motivated and intelligent individuals who can both add value to our business and become the future leaders in our company. This is a common theme in all businesses that I have both worked with and worked in.
We have worked extremely hard in this regard to attract and retain the very best people. We now have an excellent model in place to identify talent and ensure succession planning is in place. This allows the current management to continue to focus on growing and developing the business, and the leaders of tomorrow a chance to hone their skills and grow in the company.
Have language barriers, currency changes, etiquette and culture ever caused you any difficulties? How did you overcome them?
Due to nature of our business it is our role and responsibility to ensure this does not happen to our clients. As we are experts at this, we have not encountered many issues ourselves throughout our growth.
It would not however be true to say that we have never experienced any issues/challenges along the way. We have kept these to an absolute minimum by working with the very best people and employing staff from each of the countries we are targeting, this has ensured that they are very familiar with the culture and business etiquette from the outset.
Did you get any support when you wanted to trade abroad? Who from, and was it helpful?
We were able to take advantage of our fortunate position with open access to exceptional people (linguists) around the globe to assist us on our journey and the added support of Scottish Enterprise offering us advice and introductions to the right people made this a smooth journey for Global Voices.
What advice would you give to someone just starting to explore overseas markets?
Ensure your brand, core values and product/service descriptions are communicated accurately and in a way that your potential customers will understand. If not, you’re wasting your time.
Adopting and localising your marketing strategies is hugely important as your clients will always be more confident purchasing a product or service explained to them in the language in which they dream, and not a language that they need to TRY and understand!
Where next? What markets are you looking into and where do you see the company in 5 years time?
This is a phenomenal industry growing at an incredible rate. I see us continuing to lead from the front in both rate of growth and development of innovative technology to support our clients and offering them the very best customer experience!
Global Voices have been shortlisted in the Small Exporter and Most Entrepreneurial Exporter of the Year categories at the HSBC Scottish Export Awards 2017 in association with Scottish Enterprise. Join us on 22 March to celebrate international trade across Scotland.