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Negative feedback
Thread poster: Carmen Grabs

Carmen Grabs
Germany
Local time: 20:38
Member (2012)
English to German
+ ...
Dec 3, 2014

In the last few weeks I Keep getting negative Feedback for Projects.
This really makes me feel down.

What is wrong? As far as I can see it's mostly preferential. Or maybe not.

What do you do when you get negative Feedback. I hate it so much, and I always worry a Client will never give me work again.

On the other Hand, I also get positive Feedback (as opposed to no Feedback at all).

Please help.
Carmen


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
This statement sounds too generic Dec 3, 2014

Is it possible to put some more substance to it? Do you clients complain about specific issues, such as inconsistency in terminology, grammar errors, typos, inadequate writing style, wrong register or unnecessary "wordiness"?

Negative feedback without pointing out specific issues, with concrete examples, is tantamount to no feedback.

Bear in mind that the editor who deals with your translation (if there is one) is human too and may be mislead due to their inexperience in editing or in subject matter itself.

Do not take it for granted, ask for more specific feedback.



[Edited at 2014-12-03 10:36 GMT]


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aruna yallapragada  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:08
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
Not to worry too much Dec 3, 2014

It does feel bad - I got it twice.

One of them had no intention of paying. Then I stopped feeling bad.

The other - I was a part of a team - the client didn't like the translation. I didn't feel bad then either - It may not have been my part of the translation!

I would worry if the person passing the negative remarks is competent. I would then take it as constructive criticism- but then, it is difficult to find out.


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Carmen Grabs
Germany
Local time: 20:38
Member (2012)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you so much for your answer Dec 3, 2014

I am really devastated ...

The specific Feedback is the file they return - this one today does not have much of my original text left.

They changed words such as "Service" (I translated it into the German "Dienst", they left it untranslated). They shortened words.

The Problem is this: I feel I could not have been able to find the proper terminology for this text! The Client, working every day with his terminology, is now angry that nobody else knows it.

How do I react. Do I say: You should have provided me with a glossary.
Or is this something to be expected from a translator to know each word when they accept a Job? I was not Aware of this text having any specific glossary requirements.

Now I am being asked to go through the whole file (around 20 pages) and to comment on each comment to say whether this was
-correct
incorrect
preferential

...


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Glossaries are common practice Dec 3, 2014

Carmen Grabs wrote:

The Client, working every day with his terminology, is now angry that nobody else knows it.


Client-specific glossaries are indeed the norm. Either the end client or the LSP (agency) should provide it and you need to stick to it. If such glossary was not provided, "Dienst" is "service" or "Service", depending on the context (I do not speak German, but this particular word coincides with Dutch, which I do speak a little without it being my working language).


Now I am being asked to go through the whole file (around 20 pages) and to comment on each comment to say whether this was
-correct
incorrect
preferential

...


Only do it if you really feel you might be "at fault" here. If you clearly see that the client has irresponsibly slashed "n'importe quoi" in your work, politely decline to keep employing your time to correct the errors they introduced in your work. Be sure this is the case, though. An informed, constructive feedback and invitation to review your work is a precious asset in service provider-customer relationship.

The correctness of their feedback should give you pretty good idea whether you want to keep working with this particular client.


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Carmen Grabs
Germany
Local time: 20:38
Member (2012)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for taking time Dec 3, 2014

to answer in such busy times!

I will Keep in mind what you wrote and will check the corrections thoroughly. I don't want to lose this Client, they are good, but I don't want to lose my Reputation, either


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 20:38
English to Polish
+ ...
This is a little complicated issue Dec 3, 2014

On the one hand, there are implied warranties translators as sellers/service providers are bound by as a matter of law. This does include removing any defects that are found in our work. To some extent, that in turn necessarily includes going through client-supplied lists of alleged defects to verify them.

But, you're probably working either with a translation agency or with a professional IT/other localization client. Your rates are probably optimized for such a professional setting.

Thus, although your legal entitlement to do so might be a contentious and blurry issue, you could try telling them to resubmit their list of changes after:

— removing what they believe to be preferential changes
— veryifying any alleged violations of language rules

Complaining customers can't just pull a list out of thin air and require you to provide a report on every point.

Your additional advantage in that situation is that you're still a professional, not a salaried employee but some basic human standards still apply. Actually, in more commoditized transactions a wordy and sketchy complaint coming without proof to support the allegations would probably not fare too well, either.

You could stress that you're a professional, your job was very specific, you can't provide free language lessons, and your job description doesn't include advice on the merit or style of their proposals.

My current policy is to require the complainer to resubmit without any preferential changes. I wouldn't hesitate to tell the complainer to go through dictionaries and grammar reference first (DIY complaints) or show me the qualifications of the proofreader/editor reviser and justify the choice compared to my own qualifications (if it purports to be a professional job).


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Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:38
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Don't take it personally Dec 3, 2014

Every business has to deal with complaints and we are no different. I read somewhere that a customer that has their complaint dealt with well will be MORE loyal than one that never complains at all. It's an opportunity to provide good customer service (which doesn't mean admitting you are to blame if you aren't).

I would go through at least some of the corrections and give an honest explanation of what, if anything, has gone wrong. If you need a glossary from them so that you can get their terminology exactly right, then tell them. Maybe they never thought of that.

Be honest and polite, but stand up for yourself too. And don't feel bad about negative feedback - all translators have to deal with it at times. Sometimes we are at fault and it's an opportunity to improve (we do a hard job and none of us is perfect). Sometimes the client has destroyed our lovingly crafted translation. And sometimes it's a bit of a grey area where they have made a mixture of preferential changes and perhaps some real improvements. The important thing is to respond professionally and put any emotions aside.


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Tiffany Hardy  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:38
Spanish to English
Tackle it head on Dec 3, 2014

My view is that when you accept the job, you are taking responsibility for being able to translate the entire text accurately. So the argument that "you should have given me a glossary" is not valid, I'm afraid.

I think it is good that you are going through all of the feedback to determine the nature of each comment. This will help the client understand if they are wrong and you have in fact translated something correctly, and it will help you to pinpoint your weak spots.

I recently received some feedback I was not happy with for an extremely difficult and highly sensitive translation that I had been very careful in translating. When I delivered the first batch, the editor said my translation sounded too literal, which to me is very bad feedback because it means it doesn't read naturally in the target. I was appalled and asked for examples. I was provided a list of what were most certainly preferential changes and a couple of instances where the editor's changes resulted in complete mistranslations which I voiced my wholehearted opposition to. In the end, in defending myself, I came out looking like a stronger translator (and I'm quite sure the editor will think twice about voicing complaints about the quality of the translations they are assigned in the future). On several occasions I was asked why I chose a certain term over another and in every single instance I had solid sources to back up my choices. After the last batch was turned in, the PM relayed a message to me from the editor saying that overall the translation was to a very high standard and the agency congratulated me for a job very well done. Negative feedback when confronted doesn't always have a negative outcome!


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Texte Style
Local time: 20:38
French to English
Thorough head-on tackle Dec 3, 2014

I agree that you need to do a thorough analysis of each "correction". I personally like to keep a tally of errors and non-errors (i.e. whether or not my text needed correction) and another tally of improvements and deteriorations (i.e. whether the correction resulted in a better or worse text, or whether the modification was purely subjective). This will show at a glance whether there is any justification for negative feedback.

You can comment on each "correction" accordingly and submit your analysis to the client. This will show that you are honest (admitting any real mistakes), thorough, conscientious, sincerely committed to quality etc. As Tiffany says, this can actually be better for you in the long run. A client with a commitment to quality is a joy to work for.

[Edited at 2014-12-03 14:01 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:38
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Take the chance to educate your client? Dec 3, 2014

Carmen Grabs wrote:
Now I am being asked to go through the whole file (around 20 pages) and to comment on each comment to say whether this was
-correct
incorrect
preferential

They're giving you the chance to improve those parts you acknowledge as being less than perfect. IMO, you should use that opportunity. I can accept you haven't got time to categorise every change, but it might be a good idea at least to review them all.

I've had one similar experience. I went through all the "tracked changes", accepting the few that were either corrections (a couple of typos) or where the proofreader had hit on a wording that I thought was a definite improvement on my adequate-only phrasing. I also kept a running count of proofreader errors, mainly spaces deleted or added but there were a couple of real errors (e.g. preferential change of adjective without bothering to change the preposition in line). That was quite quick to do as I just scanned all the preferential changes. I sent it back with a quick note to say that I acknowledged and had corrected my few errors, that the proofreader had introduced n errors, notably a and b, and that if they rejected all the remaining changes they'd have (IMO) a perfectly good translation. I was thanked and given more work so I think it did me no harm and was useful to the client.

Do I say: You should have provided me with a glossary.
Or is this something to be expected from a translator to know each word when they accept a Job? I was not Aware of this text having any specific glossary requirements.

It would certainly be an opportunity to discuss the possibility with the client. It's a good idea for all sorts of reasons but I find many clients are reluctant to provide one. Offering to start one from the current translation (for a fee, of course) might be a good idea. Unless it's an agency, they might be a little unsure of what's needed.


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Carmen Grabs
Germany
Local time: 20:38
Member (2012)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I think I should not accept every job .. Dec 3, 2014

the main issues arose and arise when I accept every Project I feel slightly confident with. It's the fear of losing a Client if I don't accept every Project.
But I feel that I Need to Limit this to Projects I feel more confident with.

How do you handle this? How many Projects from different agencies do you accept?



On a different note: I write all letters with small Initials, but somehow they Change to large ...

[Edited at 2014-12-03 14:43 GMT]


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:38
English to German
+ ...
Good client? Dec 3, 2014

Carmen Grabs wrote:

to answer in such busy times!

I will Keep in mind what you wrote and will check the corrections thoroughly. I don't want to lose this Client, they are good, but I don't want to lose my Reputation, either



Hello Carmen,

How do you know this client is a good client? I had assumed you never worked with them before because if you did and there were no problems in the past, it would seem very odd that you get negative feedback now.
If this is a new client, how do you know they are good? Have they paid you an adequate fee for your work yet or are they trying to keep you working on this for quite a while? Which payment terms apply?
If no glossary was provided to you, you are not to be criticized for using terms that clearly are correct (fitting) translations as you determined to the best of your knowledge and based on your research.

You wrote earlier:
Carmen Grabs wrote:
The specific Feedback is the file they return - this one today does not have much of my original text left.


Does this mean that they not only changed terms but rephrased many of your sentences?
This would be a warning sign that there is more going on than just critical assessment of your work.
I would recommend you defend your work by explaining just a few of your choices, not comment on all the changes they made.

If you had great feedback in the past, I think there is no reason you should let yourself be treated this way.
If they continue giving you a hard time, show your work to a colleague you can trust, and if she/he agrees it's good, tell your client that you have had the text reviewed by another professional.

Did you agree to anything related to this kind of criticism/review/assessment in a PO or contract?
Did the client state anywhere that they reserve their right to refuse payment or deduct something from the price they pay if THEY find the translation is unsatisfactory? I warn against any such unilateral conditions outsourcers try to stipulate.
It's always important to agree on conditions YOU can work with. There are too many bad clients/outsourcers out there who work with a whole book of tricks.

Still, my main question remains: why would you think this is a good client?
Bernhard


PS: You wrote at the beginning:
Carmen Grabs wrote:
In the last few weeks I Keep getting negative Feedback for Projects.
This really makes me feel down.


Are you referring to feedback by the same client or various clients? Are these clients who have agreed to adequate rates and payment terms? There could be a connection between low-payers and non-payers and negative feedback.

[Edited at 2014-12-03 17:54 GMT]


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Carmen Grabs
Germany
Local time: 20:38
Member (2012)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good client ... Dec 3, 2014

Thank you for your detailed questions and your feedback.

I believe it's a good Client because he has only positive Feedback in the Blue Board (proz) and I have worked with them for a while now. This is the second negative Feedback from then in 1 week, so I am a Little worried.
The rate is ok (I think).
I am having one of my translated and proofread files checked now by a very Kind colleague so that I can say to my Client that I was getting active.

They Need my Feedback back tomorrow and I will Keep in mind all your encouragements.

Tiffany, I see your Point but I still think one can expect to be provided with specific glossaries nobody but a Client can know.
I once worked for a Company and they were in the printing industry. We were selling print products to end-users and we needed our Website translated. Obviously, there are loads of specific Terms for such a Business. I remember very well how shocked the Management was when they received the Translation, as it simply did not make sense.

And here I think Bernhard is right: If you want a very specific text to be translated you Need to find a highly specified translator who charges a "highly specific" rate, which I don't. I take on all sorts of Projects. With some I feel more comfy than with others, but I work my way through. I think that is what many of us do, don'T they? I could be completely wrong here.

I don't believe every agency gets a highly specific translator for each and every Job. It would take too Long to look for such a translator, given the millions of differents topices we do each year.


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:38
Italian to English
The ear of the behearer Dec 3, 2014

Just this morning I had a minor run-in with a customer's (Italian) advertising agency.

Apparently, someone at the agency didn't think my translation was "institutional" enough. The customer, however, had already had some very positive feedback about the English text from their own customers so the potential spat had blown over by lunchtime.

Obviously, the agency wasn't out to get me. It's a question of stylistic expectations, which are very different in the two languages. By and large, Italian adspeak adopts a more serious register than its English equivalent, which means Italians tend to perceive effective English texts as flippant or over-familiar while English-speakers will often find equally effective Italian copy a bit tedious.

The agency is now working on some style guidelines for the various languages with which this company works so all's well that ends well


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