Six ways to build trusted relationships with global suppliers

Watch any rom-com and you’ll hear that trust is the number one foundation in a relationship. But, we’re in the business of translations, not romance.

What they do have in common, however, is that trust is just as important when it comes to supplier relationships. In our case, it’s the partnerships we have built with our global linguists. In this blog we’ll share what we’ve learnt having built trust with a team of suppliers spread across the world.

High levels of trust help both parties to feel confident in how their objectives and needs will be considered by the other party and vice versa. When both sides trust each other, they are more open to both listening and coming up with innovative ideas. When they feel trusted, suppliers will be more willing to go the extra mile and find new solutions. All of this can help to improve performance and even reduce cost.

A Forbes article found the most common reason supplier collaboration fails was a lack of commitment or trust. “[Lack of Trust] manifests itself as poor information flows, restricted knowledge sharing, and suspicion between stakeholders. Therefore trust is one of the most important elements in improving dyadic relationships.”

We pride ourselves on delivering the highest quality of work and that largely relies on the relationships we’ve built with our linguists. Although we’ve referred to them as ‘suppliers’ in this post, we don’t think of them that way. They are an extension of our team. With over 4,000 of them located all around the world, we’ve got a lot of experience in building trusted relationships (particularly virtual ones). Below we’ve shared some practical steps you can take to build high trust supplier relationships.

Treat them as individuals and as humans
When you are dealing with a high number of suppliers as we do, it would be easier to treat them all as a group and become quite transactional. Our linguists are based all over the world, but that doesn’t stop us from building a strong relationship with them. They’re a core part of our team. Our office-based team regularly catches up with each linguist. We develop our relationships on every project, thinking of them more as remote members of our team rather than ‘suppliers’.

Provide high levels of transparency
We are always honest and open with our linguists, providing them with as much information as possible to allow them to do their best work. We ensure that they have access to all our background research, the entire context of the project and the brief. We also provide comprehensive feedback. We believe that providing a holistic view of the project and the wider context gives our linguists a much better chance to do a high-quality job.

It’s important to keep to your word. We’re committed to this, not only with our clients but our suppliers as well. We give them what they need, on time, so they can deliver. This can be challenging in the fast-moving translation environment, but we work hard to make sure we never let our clients or our suppliers down.

Be open-minded
Our suppliers are treated as an extension of our team. This creates an environment and a culture where they feel able to offer ideas and suggestions. We are open-minded when it comes to improvements to processes or changes to ways of working and we listen when our linguists provide us with this feedback. We value their opinion and experience and staying open-minded allows us to be always improving.

Invest in training
When we do introduce a new tool, process or requirement we take the time to roll it out fully with required training and familiarisation, rather than simply expecting them to figure it out. This not only helps us to implement the change much quicker but it helps to develop trust. It signals how much we value them and want them to feel comfortable and engaged.

Frankly, we give a damn
This is one of our values and not only applies to our client work but also our suppliers. We care about them and hugely value the work they do for us and that plays out in the conversations we have, the way we interact and the relationships we build.

By creating a more trusting supplier relationship the quality of the result will undoubtedly be higher. Our 40 years of experience in working with a high number of suppliers based all over the world has meant we have fine-tuned our approach. One of our founders was themselves a supplier for a translation company before working at Comtec. We took these learnings and applied them to our business. The importance of this relationship and taking care of it well is a foundation of our organisation, one we are very proud of and that sets us apart.

“Everyone in the Comtec team I have dealt with has always been immensely friendly, polite and professional. There is this feeling that we can achieve practically anything because we trust each other and know that we can reach out in case we need advice or help.” Jan Halacek (Slovak Linguist)

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