Your overseas client makes a wrong claim because of a confusion triggered by a communication gap. You had signed on the dotted lines in one-on-one meeting with the CEO, but agreed to make some tweaks to the size of the consignment in the follow-up meeting with another official. But since the official was not well-versed with your tongue, and you forgot to send him the translated minutes of the meeting, the deal culminated in a refusal on your client’s part to accept the shipment.
What was actually agreed? Nobody knows because there are no recordings, no translated minutes of a meeting and no paperwork to support your version of the story.
Another foreign client complains about a malfunctioning product. You examine the flaws, discover that the consumer mishandled the product and yet agree to offer restoration services at a reduced price. But because of a translation error he assumes you have agreed to offer services for free and refuses to pay you at the end. And since nothing is on paper, you find the legal route shut.
What these two instances teach us is that there is no substitute to written details of the minutes of meetings which take place with your clients on a daily basis.
Many people undermine or ignore the importance of minutes of meetings, either formal or informal. When people agree on an action plan, they tend to assume that there is no need to document the minutes of the meeting as both the concerned parties are on a common page. But little do they pay heed to the fact that oral concurrence too can be misinterpreted, either inadvertently or deliberately. And that is the reason why it is a good practice to pen down the minutes of day-to-day official meetings.
That is not it!
When it comes to two parties who do not speak the same tongue, language is a bigger barrier than anything else. In a globalized world where it is quite common for companies from say China, Japan, Russia and Korea to enter into daily meetings with companies from US or the Europe, chances of misconstruing official interaction are higher. If the client doesn’t speak your tongue, the thumb rule is, record the meeting minutes, translate it into a language that is understood by the client and share it with them.