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Feedback from first-time clients
Thread poster: Mila Bilenka

Mila Bilenka  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 04:20
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
Jul 20, 2008

Dear colleagues,

Please, share your experiences and practices in soliciting feedback from your first-time clients regarding the quality of your translations?

Thank you in advance.


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:20
Portuguese to English
+ ...
What for? Jul 20, 2008

Mila, why would you want to solicit feedback? I just do my best job and send it on. I figure if they want to compliment me on my work they'll do so without being asked, and if for some reason they didn't like it, I know they'll say so!

Amy


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Mila Bilenka  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 04:20
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
2 reasons Jul 20, 2008

Amy, I want feedback for two reasons. If I’ve done my best and it’s been acknowledged, I’ll sure have more jobs from this new client. If not, I want to know what it is I need to work on and…have more jobs from this client!

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 09:20
Dutch to English
+ ...
Don't hold your breath Jul 20, 2008

Mila Bilenka wrote:

Amy, I want feedback for two reasons. If I’ve done my best and it’s been acknowledged, I’ll sure have more jobs from this new client. If not, I want to know what it is I need to work on and…have more jobs from this client!


In this business, repeat business is the best form of feedback. If you don't receive repeat work it's generally because of one of two reasons: (1) the client didn't like your work for some reason (and they are hardly likely to enter into a lengthy discussion about it, they just won't give more work) or (2) the client simply doesn't have enough work in your language pair(s).

I tend to agree with Amy. What's more, specifically calling for feedback may come across to some clients as strange, as though you're uncertain of the quality of your work or lack experience.

I can't think of many other professions in which people would ask for feedback. Companies may send out client satisfaction surveys, but I don't regard it the norm for freelancers or other independent professionals.

A general statement in your cover e-mail stating your willingness and availability to deal with any issues - and perhaps mentioning the first time that you welcome any feedback - is enough, IMHO. Don't make too much of an issue of it - at least not with European agencies.

Good luck
Debs


[Edited at 2008-07-20 23:13]


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:20
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Feedback is rare Jul 20, 2008

I agree with Debs. It's rare to receive feedback from clients - this may seem a little demoralising at first, but you'll get used to it.
Repeat business is the best proof that the client is happy with your work and you can be sure that if the client is not happy about it you'll hear soon enough.
Just indicate your willingness to work for them again.
Kind regards,
Jenny


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 04:20
English to French
+ ...
Feedback to be used as reference Jul 20, 2008

I totally see why you would want to solicit feedback - it can be good reference for your prospective clients. Feedback can also be used to have an idea of what your strengths and weaknesses are, and over time, that can lead to improvements to your business.

I have solicited feedback in the past, and I don't think there is any specific way to go about it. Just be straight up with your client. Ask them to tell you how they liked your services. If you think that your client appreciates you in general and you could use their feedback to promote your services, tell them you would like to quote them on your website, in your flyer or wherever you would like to use the feedback. If you are only trying to have an idea of your strengths and weaknesses, you can also make up a simple form with some basic questions, wherein they can give you a rating. It could go like this:

1. Timeliness
2. Communication
3. Mastery of software
4. Linguistic skills
5. Problem solving
6. Customer service

Ask them to give you a mark between one and five for each of those. Also ask them to describe, in a few sentences, what is their general impression of you.

I find that in general, both types of feedback (for promotion and for improvement) should be solicited straight up. All my clients have responded favorably to this, and none of them refused. Even those that I asked specifically for feedback to be used as a marketing tool were glad to provide it.

All the best!

[Edited at 2008-07-20 22:36]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:20
English to German
+ ...
You could ask to be sent a copy of the edited version when the job is done Jul 20, 2008

Before you start the job. Unfortunately, not many customers do this automatically.

This way you indicate your dedication to quality control, and you will receive all the feedback you want without making the customer write up a review.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 09:20
Dutch to English
+ ...
Bit much to expect from a first time client Jul 20, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

I totally see why you would want to solicit feedback - it can be good reference for your prospective clients. Feedback can also be used to have an idea of what your strengths and weaknesses are, and over time, that can lead to improvements to your business.

I have solicited feedback in the past, and I don't think there is any specific way to go about it. Just be straight up with your client. Ask them to tell you how they liked your services. If you think that your client appreciates you in general and you could use their feedback to promote your services, tell them you would like to quote them on your website, in your flyer or wherever you would like to use the feedback. If you are only trying to have an idea of your strengths and weaknesses, you can also make up a simple form with some basic questions, wherein they can give you a rating. It could go like this:

1. Timeliness
2. Communication
3. Mastery of software
4. Linguistic skills
5. Problem solving
6. Customer service

Ask them to give you a mark between one and five for each of those. Also ask them to describe, in a few sentences, what is their general impression of you.

I find that in general, both types of feedback (for promotion and for improvement) should be solicited straight up. All my clients have responded favorably to this, and none of them refused. Even those that I asked specifically for feedback to be used as a marketing tool were glad to provide it.

All the best!


This may work for a reference from a regular client Viktoria, but it frankly seems OTT for a first time client - Nicole's idea is far more practical in this case if Mila really wants to insist on feedback.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 04:20
English to French
+ ...
@ Debs Jul 20, 2008

You are right. I forgot to add that it is best to have completed at least three projects from any given client before asking for any feedback.

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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:20
Portuguese to English
+ ...
After reading the posts here... Jul 20, 2008

I want to reiterate - why?

I think it just makes the translator look insecure. I say, send the job off and move on -- to your next job!


Amy


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RichardDeegan
Local time: 04:20
Spanish to English
Feedback without asking Jul 20, 2008

There is, of course, a way of getting feedback without requesting it. On a first job for a new client, I usually enclosed a note indicating my approach and some short explanations of why I translated one or two phrases a certain way for a given context.
Positive responses are invariably received.


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CFK TRAD  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:20
English to French
+ ...
It helps getting more clients ! Jul 20, 2008

Dear Amy, and dear all,

I'd rather agree with what Viktoria suggested in her post. Getting feedbacks can be a good thing for several reasons :
1- You know what's fine, and what may need improvements ;
2- You can publish it on your website (you don't have to ask the client's permission if you don't give the name eg : "Stephen X., New York City / Sandy Y., Hong Kong)
3- You get more clients.

From a very personal point of view, I ask for WWA. They are public, anybody can see it (and, basically, the outsourcer may refuse, or may put a rather average or low mark).

With WWA, I got several clients, including the one which pays me the most. When they see you have 7, 8 or 10 WWA, outsourcers are not about to argue about the rate you ask for. They know that quality & timeliness will be there.

So, Amy, it really depends on the reason why you request a feedback : if it's in order to reassure the person, you're right, the translator looks insecure (and, perhaps, he/she is insecure indeed). But if it's in order to promote your services (which is basically one of our targets, since we've got to make money !), having feedbacks (and, more, having them publicly displayed) is a good thing to do.

Best

Coralie


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Cilian O'Tuama
Local time: 10:20
German to English
+ ...
No news is good news. Jul 21, 2008

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

In this business, repeat business is the best form of feedback. If you don't receive repeat work it's generally because of one of two reasons: (1) the client didn't like your work for some reason (and they are hardly likely to enter into a lengthy discussion about it, they just won't give more work) or (2) the client simply doesn't have enough work in your language pair(s).




or
(3) others can deliver the same quality at a lower price.

Just throwing that in, from this outsourcer's perspective.

But I agree, repeat business is a sign that everything's hunky dory.

No news is good news.
Cilian


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:20
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
"No news, good news" Jul 21, 2008

Cilian O'Tuama wrote:
No news is good news.


Indeed. My experience is that both bad and good feedback always reach the translator after a job. But in general, no feedback at all and a continuing business with the customer is a clear sign that everything is going smoothly.

I have sometimes received feedback after years of relationship and many tens of thousands of words translated. Usually this happens when a new person takes over at the end customer's Spanish offices.


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Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:20
Member (2007)
German to English
agreed: no news is good news Jul 21, 2008

Getting paid and getting repeat work are the best recommendations, IMHO. I suppose you could consider a positive recommendation as part of your price, but I'm strongly disinclined to bother the customer with it. They're worried about their translation, not your reputation with their competition.

The folks who designed the proz profile updater obviously see it differently. Why else would they have included a "willingness to work again" section under profile updater? This is not to say that they recommend you ping your client on the first go-around, but they obviously think you should pop the question at some point.


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