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Poll: What is your typical reaction if you receive negative feedback from a client?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Local time: 04:51
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Jun 3, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What is your typical reaction if you receive negative feedback from a client?".

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Same as last time Jun 3, 2015

Throw toys out of pram

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J.E.Sunseri  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:51
Member (2009)
Russian to English
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It so very much depends.. Jun 3, 2015

Really.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other, varies Jun 3, 2015

After throwing all my toys out of the pram and recovering from the surprise, I will usually ask some colleagues to see if they agree that the criticism is well-founded. I hasten to add that this would be a very rare occurrence and I don't recall the last time it happened.

I am currently more concerned about a slightly different problem. One of my long-standing clients has expanded and now has operations based in different countries. They are letting some of their "bilingual" staff post material written in English and I have yet to see an example that doesn't contain at least one error, usually accompanied by what I would normally consider formal defects. As I haven't been asked to proof or revise these texts, I'm reluctant to stick my nose in where it may not be wanted and could result in repercussions for the staff in question. On the other hand, I'm really disappointed to see what I consider substandard texts appearing on the website and other material from what I consider a highly valued client. And it's not as if I go looking for these texts on purpose, I simply come across them when researching terms or on sites like Facebook.

I could easily give these texts a quick once over, each one would only take a few minutes, and I'd even be willing to provide this service free of charge to ensure the standard is maintained, as I'd usually do with my own text output, but I don't know how to put this to the client with offending someone or otherwise ruffling feathers...


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Marta Cervera Areny
Spain
Local time: 13:51
Catalan to Spanish
+ ...
Depends... Jun 3, 2015

If I think they are right, I apologize and try to make amendments, maybe review the whole translation again, or offer a discount...

If I think they're not right, I defend my translation. I'm usually able to explain why I translated things the way I did.


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Marta Cervera Areny
Spain
Local time: 13:51
Catalan to Spanish
+ ...
About the client's mistakes... Jun 3, 2015

neilmac wrote:

I could easily give these texts a quick once over, each one would only take a few minutes, and I'd even be willing to provide this service free of charge to ensure the standard is maintained, as I'd usually do with my own text output, but I don't know how to put this to the client with offending someone or otherwise ruffling feathers...


Hi neilmac,

I'd start by pointing out one or two mistakes to the client, maybe with a smiley face at the end of the sentence. And if they respond positively, then say you've spotted other mistakes and ask if they want you to go over these texts (for a small fee or for free, that's up to you). Don't say "your people are doing it all wrong", but rather "mistakes give a poor image of your company, let me help you improve your image". It has worked for me before, so it might work for you as well.

Good luck!


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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:51
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Depends Jun 3, 2015

It depends on the nature of the feedback. If I think the criticism is justified, I will apologise profusely and attempt to put things right, if possible, or offer some kind of olive branch. If I feel the comments are incorrect and unfounded, then I will compose a polite but firm response explaining why I believe my translation to be correct (that's when all the commentaries I did for my MA course come in handy!).

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:51
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It depends Jun 3, 2015

I can think of four cases in the last 22 years. In two cases I defended my translation (the toy thing), but in the other two cases I had misspelled some words in a PDF. My vision is declining, and I had had problems reading the PDF. After the second case, I started refusing to work from PDFs.

Also, a couple of times I was was asked to translate a piece I had "left out" - a letterhead or an address, so I had to explain that no translation was necessary. Once I skipped something, and in that case I apologized.


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Billh
Local time: 12:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
Last time it happened Jun 3, 2015

I had to give 2 young Spanish lawyers from a leading law firm a good talking to.

The firm remains as one of my best clients........

There is a certain breed of young Spanish lawyer/accountant who has usually done a "Masters" in the US and thinks he is an expert on English. Firm correctional measures may be required......

Like Muriel this has happened maybe 4 times in 20 years. There will also be minor errors from time to time of a typo or inconsequential nature but clients tend to be understanding in my experience.

[Edited at 2015-06-03 09:55 GMT]


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 12:51
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
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Same as last time! Jun 3, 2015

http://www.proz.com/forum/poll_discussion/276190-poll_a_client_sends_you_negative_feedback_you.html

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Luiz Barucke
Brazil
Local time: 08:51
Member (2013)
Spanish to Portuguese
+ ...
It varies Jun 3, 2015

Of course.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 13:51
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Another it varies/depends... Jun 3, 2015

Two rushed jobs today... one typo.

Hasty correction of the clean file and check for consistency, sincere one-line apology and promise to correct the TM in a few minutes.

The other job apparently hadn't arrived by the deadline, but when I resent it the PM found two copies. Apologies the other way, and we're still friends!

If anyone questions my choice of wording, we parley. Possibly after I too have thrown my toys out of the pram and then calmly lined up my tin soldiers on a castle of dictionaries, style guides or whatever it takes to shoot down the attack.

I try to send someone out with a white flag first... Clients ask for imaginative translations, but they don't always imagine what they are going to get!

Phew, now to look at my longer-term project and get some fresh air and exercise...



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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
A different perspective Jun 3, 2015

neilmac wrote:

After throwing all my toys out of the pram and recovering from the surprise, I will usually ask some colleagues to see if they agree that the criticism is well-founded. I hasten to add that this would be a very rare occurrence and I don't recall the last time it happened.

I am currently more concerned about a slightly different problem. One of my long-standing clients has expanded and now has operations based in different countries. They are letting some of their "bilingual" staff post material written in English and I have yet to see an example that doesn't contain at least one error, usually accompanied by what I would normally consider formal defects. As I haven't been asked to proof or revise these texts, I'm reluctant to stick my nose in where it may not be wanted and could result in repercussions for the staff in question. On the other hand, I'm really disappointed to see what I consider substandard texts appearing on the website and other material from what I consider a highly valued client. And it's not as if I go looking for these texts on purpose, I simply come across them when researching terms or on sites like Facebook.

I could easily give these texts a quick once over, each one would only take a few minutes, and I'd even be willing to provide this service free of charge to ensure the standard is maintained, as I'd usually do with my own text output, but I don't know how to put this to the client with offending someone or otherwise ruffling feathers...


Your posting gave me food for thought. I can't say I have encountered the same situation myself, but if I may suggest this: it's not about you at all. It's evident you have great respect —even a degree of professional affection— for this client, but it's their image, not yours.

Having said that, I would have said my piece to the client but in passing, as in 'by the way, I noticed this or that on your website,' and leave it at that, not offering anything. Easier said than done, though.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
Those young'uns! Jun 3, 2015

Billh wrote:

I had to give 2 young Spanish lawyers from a leading law firm a good talking to.

The firm remains as one of my best clients........

There is a certain breed of young Spanish lawyer/accountant who has usually done a "Masters" in the US and thinks he is an expert on English. Firm correctional measures may be required......

Like Muriel this has happened maybe 4 times in 20 years. There will also be minor errors from time to time of a typo or inconsequential nature but clients tend to be understanding in my experience.



Hahahah! That's a funny anecdote. However, may I suggest that a better expression would be firm corrective measures may be required… (don't forget the ellipsis).


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
Speaking of feedback… Jun 3, 2015

I recently received a well-deserved criticism (or “tirón de orejas” in Spanish) for something I posted on Twitter without redacting the client's name. That was an one-off mistake.

This mistake was in no way related to my translations (two years working for these people) or to my dealings with them, but I apologized and deleted the offending tweet.

Whenever I've made omissions, typos or other errors in my translations or reviews after the client had let me know of them, I apologized, corrected and moved on. If the critique is misplaced or defective in some way, then I would defend the translation but always from an empirical perspective (i.e. any other competent translator of sound mind would have written or said the same as I).

I don't believe in defending something for the sake of defending, however well written or justified it may be. I always feel compelled to give the customer evidence that I am right (or not).


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