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Poll: Negative feedback from a client is just a chance to improve my services:
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 03:36
SITE STAFF
Oct 26

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Negative feedback from a client is just a chance to improve my services:".

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
Depends on Oct 26

Whether the criticism is justified or not. Some clients can be just plain picky and.... occasionally wrong.

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Vera Schoen  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 12:36
Member (2008)
German to Swedish
+ ...
Agree Oct 26

Even unjust negative feedback helps me improve. A good communication with our outsourcers is extremely important, especially the ability to keep ones calm and professionality in awkward situations.

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Texte Style
Local time: 12:36
French to English
depends Oct 26

working in an agency, we sometimes got clients who, when pressed to pay the bill, would say they didn't want to pay because it was such terrible quality. We would ask them to show us what was bad, and never got an answer. It was pretty stressful and didn't help anyone.

Other than that kind of scenario, I welcome criticism. Even when the client is wrong, it's an opportunity to educate them, show them that I'm serious about my work.

One of my best clients started out nit-picking every other word. They had had a previous bad experience. After a while during which I patiently showed them my resources and explained English grammar, the questions petered out and we have the best of working relationships based on mutual respect and trust.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 11:36
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It depends Oct 26

What I think and do about this matter hasn't changed since 2014 (when the same questions was asked):

I haven’t had a single negative feedback in over 20 years (touch wood!). I always revise and check my translations several times before sending them to an ex-colleague who proofreads all my work. But if I had, I believe it’s very important to take immediate action (how can someone ignore it???), as this is a very important part of any customer service – fix problems; solve issues.

In my experience, the negative feedback may be stylistic changes and not true errors on the part of the translator. Sometimes it’s the client that makes mistakes rather than the translator. Some 20 years ago, I received a negative feedback from an important client who wasn’t aware of the differences between Spanish and Portuguese…

If I know I am right, I will defend my translation. If I don’t agree with something, I will question it and I will do some further research to prove my point of view, including good sources. Of course, I will also apologize if mistaken. Mistakes can happen, even from those who are supposed to correct them. We all know that translation is an activity that requires continuous learning and we will never know everything…


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Omar Abdul-Hafiz  Identity Verified
Jordan
Local time: 13:36
Arabic to English
+ ...


Posted via
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It depends.. Oct 26

As many colleagues already mentioned, it depends on whether the criticism makes sense or not. For example, there are many clients out there who would hand you a very low-quality source text and expect you to craft a wonderful translation out of it. And then they would lash out at you if you don't manage to meet their expectations.

[Edited at 2017-10-26 09:25 GMT]


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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:36
Member (2008)
English to Italian
it depends on Oct 26

how the negative feedback is formulated, if it is justified (I received a negative one and when I checked the translation it resulted that I had used a different spelling for the same word (both correct)....

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ventnai  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:36
Member
German to English
+ ...
Control Oct 26

I think some clients have control/power issues and think they know English (in my case) better than you do. They often don't realise how their native language (mostly German in my case) interferes with their English. I have received translations back with (less suitable) synonyms. I am open to alternatives but not nit-picking and obstinacy.

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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 20:36
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Negative feedback from a client is just a chance to... Oct 26

Give Tony Soprano a chance to whack or beat some stupid bastard senseless. After 32 years in this business and still going strong, I think that any client that gives me only up to 9- out of 10-star feedback is really stupido and deserves to be rolled up in a mattress and pushed off the top of Mt. Etna.

Nobody messes with Uncle Juliano. Capisce?

[Edited at 2017-10-26 12:28 GMT]


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:36
Member (2008)
French to English
Not usually Oct 26

Looking back on the few occasions of negative feedback I have received over the past few years, virtually every case was an end client who is not a native in the target language thinking they knew English better than a native. The result ranged from hilarious to disastrous.

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Ledja  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:36
Member (2008)
English to Albanian
+ ...
It depends - it can be disheartening when unjustified, but toughening too Oct 26

I can’t say I’ve ever received negative feedback from any client, but have on occasion been sent a file back simply to be made aware of corrections that were implemented as final.

Off the top of my head, there has been one time in my early career days when I was caught between an urgent assignment and needing to reply to unjustified corrections made to a file I’d previously worked on. The client did state that they found the amount of corrections suspicious – the text in the three-page document looked almost entirely red because of the amount of inserted trackchanges – but they still needed me to only change back what was “absolutely necessary”, and justify my choices in comment boxes so that the proofreader could agree too. Incapable as I was of being rude and answering, “Only what’s absolutely necessary? How about giving that tip to the proofreader?”, I seethed with frustration at having to cut to the chase and let changes of the sort “good” to “nice” and “asterisk” to “star” and mine’s-better-than-yours go, or I would be spending time I didn’t have on a job I was going to get nothing more out of.

Nowadays, I’ve learned to call others out on their intentions and challenge corrections I find unjustified. It’s interesting when people mark mistakes they cannot name for the life of them. And I don’t mind taking time lecturing on grammar and syntax. Bring it on! I've found preferential corrections have eased off in projects containing several assignments once I gave fully elaborated comments back to the proofreader from the start.

And just in case I am painting a picture of myself as being insufferably cantankerous, I am in fact humble enough to admit my own mistakes



[Edited at 2017-10-26 18:04 GMT]


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Gitte Hovedskov
Denmark
Local time: 12:36
Danish to English
+ ...
Disagree Oct 26

Negative feedback is what it is: Comments from a client who is not 100 % happy with the translation I have delivered. There may be many reasons for this, and my 'service' is always to make sure my clients are content with the end result. So, I work with them to make sure they are happy in the end.

No big deal.


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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:36
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Not really Oct 26

In my experience, negative feedback from clients has always been very exaggerated (such as complaining about poor quality by finding three typos in 100 pages!), in an attempt to depreciate your work, and perhaps get a discount.
More than 90% of the negative feedback I received so far were due to the reason above or to the incompetence of a reviser who changed several correct translations to incorrect things.


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Rebecca Garber  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:36
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
I agree. Oct 26

I may improve my life by dropping the client if the negative feedback isn't justified.

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silviantonia  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:36
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
It really depends on the background and the client's knowledge Oct 27

Obviously, all of us have made mistakes at one time or another. You do need an extra pair of eyes when you are doing a lot of translation work just to provide a fresh look at the translation (proofreading, editing, formatting). But I research things I am unsure about, sometimes consult endless dictionaries and sources, and have frequently found that original documents may be poorly drafted and need correction. So frequently clients may give negative feedback even though they are wrong and don't know the field.

Another problem nowadays is the prevalence of automatic translators, which are frequently wrong, especially in Romance languages where there is concordance between the various parts of speech. If a client fails to understand that, they will think some of the things used in a translation are wrong or unnecessary.

Recently I translated, for free, the program for a peace organization which has yearly anti-nuke events, and on whose board of directors I sit. An outsider who offered to do the "formatting" of the program claimed the English and the Spanish had to mirror each other. These two languages, however, are very different, grammatically and otherwise, and cannot mirror each other. So while English capitalizes everything, Spanish (or French or Italian or Portuguese) do not. I didn't want a document in engliñol (Spanglish), and the comments from this person made me so angry (email after email), that I decided not to respond until the next day. It was good for an angry article about imperial domination and the quashing of indigenous cultures, dialects, etc. I had sat as a judge of elections in the primaries and had worked with an indigenous person from Ecuador or Honduras who had learned Spanish later in life, because his first language was a dialect. A friend reminded me that a "language" is a dialect with an army behind it.

Finally, I interpreted for a large computing firm. IT language is of recent "manufacture," and because much of it is happening in the US (Silicon Valley, etc.), it has become easier for people to use the English words or to even create translations that don't exist in their language. Thus, for example, developer is being translated as "desarrollador," which does not exist. Software (programa informático) is often used in Spanish, as is hardware (equipo informático físico). I use the Spanish, and damn the consequences. I grew up in a multilingual family with a polyglot grandfather who drummed into my head as a child that as Flaubert famously said, there is an exact phrase or word for that which you are trying to say (le mot juste).

I am always willing to improve my services, but weakening, debasing, adulterating the language is not the way to do that.


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