A note on quality…

This post is a development of a mail I sent out to the editors on Wordy last week. It has to do with the quality of our service, and what we should do to ensure it. After all, when all the nice things about the speed, price and accessibility of Wordy have been said – quality is what keeps us going forward, and customer coming back.

This is the mail that went out to Wordy’s 137 editors:

I hope you are well. It has been a good month for Wordy. For the first time we’ve edited more than 100k words – over the next five months I’m hoping to double that number five to six times.

What will keep customers coming back is not just the speed of our service, but also its quality, so please:

- Pay extra attention to the “little things”: spaces or double spaces (where they shouldn’t be), repeated words, wording that doesn’t fit the context, stepping outside the guidelines, uploading the original document instead of the revised one – these things are noticed by the customers, but not always pointed out, and they really diminish our excellent service.

- A little message to the customer when delivering the job shows that there are actually “real people” on Wordy – in my experience, this often makes the difference between a “Good” and an “Excellent” rating.

If you have any ideas or thoughts on how we can minimise errors (process, plug-ins or other tools), please let me know.

I’m looking forward to sharing a bit of exciting news with you within the next 3–4 weeks, but for now: thanks for your continued support and patience with Wordy.

The obvious thing is, of course, that it’s great that Wordy is starting to pick up, but this also has a few inherent dangers:

  • Slower response times
  • More room for errors
  • More diverse customer needs
  • Even more diverse customer expectations

Slower response times is all about having numerous open jobs at the same time, waiting to be picked up. Now, the average delivery times we give to editors and customers are based on prior orders, so the 33 minutes we currently estimate for delivering 400 words is pretty fixed. But scaling to 50+ jobs per day will, of course, soon reveal whether 130-odd editors are enough to keep up this great turnaround time. In the end, the customers’ expectations are based on our own estimates, and so we shouldn’t rely on the system to make our promises for us, but rather make a real effort to live up to the standards we have built up so nicely already. Some companies in the language service industry solve this by having a thousand or more individuals on the platform; I don’t believe in this. To me, it makes much more sense to get as few qualified people as possible; to maintain a personal and professional dialogue; to keep customers from losing sight of which editor they like; and to make Wordy an attractive platform for professional editors to work with. So, instead of letting in editors by the hundreds, I prefer letting them in one by one to ensure a perfect fit. If necessary, we can always speed up the process of acquiring new editors, but that shouldn’t be done for the sole purpose of bumping up their basic number.

More room for errors is painstakingly obvious and even double-edged! The more jobs editors handle, the greater the potential for errors in the editing process becomes. There are tools to help us get rid of some of the more annoying problems (like double spaces, repeated words etc.), but the final state of the document is in the hands of a human editor, and we all know how it is with us humans… Again, getting the best possible talent on Wordy is the right way to go. The second edge is all about developing Wordy.com – what to do about time-outs, lock-outs, server crashes, and plain old bugs. The answer to this is running a well-kept backlog and making sure things are fixed, tested and deployed as quickly as possible. We are fortunate to have been able to test Wordy with a growing, and even paying, number of customers, and so it’s even more important that our essential processes and core product is up and running 24/7.

Customer needs and customer expectations – I’ll combine these two, since they are both of a somewhat communicative nature. If some customers come to Wordy for great translations, it’s our job to point out that what we do is great editing. This is, luckily, something that only a few customers have expected from Wordy so far, and I’m hoping to keep it that way. What we can actually attempt is to target the needs issue, and, by doing that, live up to a great many expectations. Customers need fact-checking, secure editing, link checking, rewriting and even creative writing, permissions checking and a bunch of other services that will help them communicate better and more quickly and efficiently. This we can do – and very well, with the present base of editors. So, basically, by listening to what customers need, we can live up to most expectations. Having said that, we arrive back at the one thing that we can’t survive without: quality. Did I miss anything?


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