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What makes a good impression on you when working for your translation agency / project manager?
Thread poster: Maya Gorgoshidze

Maya Gorgoshidze  Identity Verified
Georgia
Local time: 21:15
Member (2004)
English to Georgian
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
Jun 5, 2008

As a service provider, I often think how I would manage a project and deal with my vendors if I were an agency, and I remember some things, which I like while working with my agencies. Maybe some issues are very trifle and they may be considered as unimportant ones, but some of them really make a good impression on me. For example, I like when my project manager uses a nice and friendly tone instead of a very official language; it is pleasant to me when I receive a PO immediately after a job is confirmed; I like when an invoice is sent to a separate address designated only for invoices and I receive a human or auto reply that it is received; I think messengers are quite useful, because they allow me to be in touch with some of my project managers, and so on. Of course all of these are not very important, especially when an agency always pays on time, but some "salt" makes a better working atmosphere for us.

What would you say about this?

Regards,
Maya


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Atena Hensch  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 06:15
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
I like when people are nice and friendly! Jun 5, 2008

It's quite interesting. I work with an agency for last 4 years. PM is very nice and friendly. She always write some personal and friendly comments in her email such as "I hope the weather is nice and pleasant in your side of the world" etc. Actually, I quite like it. I think even if I receive a little bit late payment, I won't be so unhappy with them.

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-06-05 22:48]


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Sergei Leshchinsky  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 20:15
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
good words to remeber for agencies... Jun 5, 2008

I co-operate with many agencies and come across different attitudes. Many do try to be polite (and it's good), while others seem to be "too busy to pretend polite". That's frustrating... Here, it depends... If it's interesting for you for financial reasons, go ahead... Still, one should not judge by the "image" in ICQ or e-mail. People MAY be busy. Anyway, good communication skills are A MUST for project managers. Any objections? Getting P.O. asap is just the way for a translator to feel comfortable (the quality of our work, by the way, heavily depends on comfort). I like getting it fast, but... see Rule 1 (People MAY be busy). Autoreply (at least) is really useful, because sometimes messages miss the addressees and you need to be sure they don't. When working in a dense time-frame I do rely on messengers, as nothing is quicker. Communication is very important for today's business. Payment. Here, the rules are sometimes crazy. Different terms, different ways... Personally, I don't like "45 days after the end of month", unless "they prove they are diligent". One should understand that too many people are involved, if the agencies are really big... and it takes time to process the orders... One have to live with or without it... Sure, none of the mentioned is too important, but many drops make a bucket. Cheers!

[Редактировалось 2008-06-05 21:06]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:15
English to French
+ ...
People who want to know more than my rate Jun 6, 2008

I like people who, when they initially contact me, ask for my rate instead of telling me what "their" rate is, and also ask me questions on other parameters, such as what my experience is with a particular document type (MSDS, patents, environmental reports) and/or a particular subject matter. People who want to know more than just my rates are usually people who are interested in quality, and that is what I am selling, so they have much better chances at getting my attention. Also, people who are interested in quality are generally more inclined to negotiate rates, deadlines, payment methods and terms, etc., instead of trying to force their own terms upon me.

Other than that, I also like it when they speak to me like I am a human being, not simply like I'm a translator. A simple 'thanks - good job' really makes me feel like I am working with people, something I really treasure. People who give me a bit of news on what's going on on their end when they contact me also make me feel good. I have an agency client in the US who often tells me what they did over the week-end before asking how my week-end was. Over time, we get to know each other, while we still stay within the limits of what's professional. I also have an agency client in China whose fairly large team is consistently very polite and friendly - one of their project managers even gave me a pleasing nickname. I like working with these people and I am much more inclined to take rush jobs from them.

Of course, people who are professional are also part of my top client categories. I like it when someone tells me "don't worry about those bookmarks - we'll take care of them on our end" or "geeze, thanks for that termbase - add $80 to the invoice".

To sum it up, people who are serious about the work they do and the collaboration we have together, are professional and are pleasant to work with are my favorites. I have clients I've been working with for a while who are even really good at telling me when I mess up - they let me know what is wrong, but they do it tactfully and they are still just as sweet. For people like most of us who are isolated and work solo all day long, a bit of warmth can really go a long way. Those are the clients I eventually feel like giving perks to. I guess here goes my message to agencies...


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:15
English to German
+ ...
The human touch - good agencies do this on purpose Jun 6, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

People who give me a bit of news on what's going on on their end when they contact me also make me feel good. I have an agency client in the US who often tells me what they did over the week-end before asking how my week-end was.


After all, we are business partners, not mail-order translation suppliers.

I like it when PMs send photos of themselves. I like it when I don't have to feel embarrassed by sounding funny when they wake me up by phone during my afternoon nap because I often like working at night. I like it when PMs or agency owners call me from vacation with greetings or from home to tell me that their office got evacuated due to a gas leak. And of course, I like receiving compliments as well as I like returning them.

Summary: All my long-term clients do that. I also found out that it's the tiny wannabes that keep the distance, thinking that this would make them sound like a Fortune 500-company. Smile...


PS: Same goes for direct clients. Can you invite them for lunch? Nooo... Your language pair might span continents but you need to get to know each other anyway.

[Edited at 2008-06-06 01:35]


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:15
Italian to English
+ ...
Keeping it simple Jun 6, 2008

While the human touch is important (especially to we translators who work at home on our own all day), what's just as if not more important for me is working with agencies that don't waste my time. I don't want to be rung up every couple of days to be told that the job I've been offered hasn't arrived yet/has been changed/will be delivered next week, maybe - just let me know when it does arrive and I'll tell you when I can do it for.
Some agencies seem to complicate the simplest things, while others make the most complicated things seem simple. I know which I'd rather work with.

[Edited at 2008-06-06 08:06]


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Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:15
German to English
friendly and professional Jun 6, 2008

My favourite agencies

- are friendly but also professional (don't speak direspectfully of their clients, for example)
- ask me if I can do a job, and ask when it will be ready, or suggest a date, rather than sending an e-mail saying "Do this by Tuesday"
- don't get irritated if I haven't answered their e-mail half an hour after they sent it (I answer as quickly as possible, but not immediately if I am having lunch or working on a tricky paragraph - maybe one I am translating for them!)
- pay on time
- give me a reasonable amount of trust. If a client questions a word, they don't immediately assume I messed up the whole translation, but ask me if the client is right to question it. If they think I charged them too much, they don't assume I am trying to con them, but ask if I have made a mistake.
- include some useful information in the e-mail subject line, not just "Translation", so I can find the e-mail again later among all the others

Oh, and when an agency first contacts me to ask if I can work for them, if the e-mail is addressed "Sehr geehrte(r) Übersetzer(in)" (Dear Mr/Ms Translator), i.e. they have just added my address to a list and sent the same e-mail to several addresses, without bothering to use people's names - so little effort right from the start does not inspire me to make any effort in responding.

I also like it when I get a photo of the team, so that you know who you're dealing with better, and would like to send people a photo of my 'team' - except that it's just me, and it seems rather vain to send people a photo of yourself. Has anyone found a good way to get past that?


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:15
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
friendly, efficient and reasonable deadlines Jun 6, 2008

Hi Maya,

The agencies I've "kept" over the long term tend to be friendly without being formal. They're efficient, not because they send POs at once, but because they send them on time (like end-of-the-month) and exact (everything is there). I also often have the feeling I participate in their quality control (they confirm changes and suggest improvements) -- and more important, they guarantee that the product is quality-controlled and they're not just there to skim a profit or commission. Efficiency is likewise reflected in the predictability of payment (spot cash/30 days). And lastly, they don't "shove": deadlines are negotiated, they don't count holidays and weekends, and if anything requires urgency or overtime, they offer the appropriate incentives.

I'm willing to bend over backwards for these clients: if my workload can take it, I accommodate their little extra demands and don't necessarily "queue" their short-and-urgent jobs, but I don't like it if they push all the time to the detriment of my other customers. The assertion that "we are the most important service provider in X" turns me off if it implies that a.) I have to forget other people in order to satisfy them; and b.) they get their volume by undercutting.

For that matter, the sentence "our rates are..." is likely to be irrelevant, because I stick to my own rates schedule.

The industry wasn't cut out for bulk. I prefer small- to medium-sized specialists.

Ceci


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:15
German to English
+ ...
Smile Jun 6, 2008

Parrot wrote:

The industry wasn't cut out for bulk. I prefer small- to medium-sized specialists.

Ceci


Hi Ceci:

Not sure quite what you mean by the first sentence, but I'm with you on the second one. In terms of agencies, I like to keep a small selection, a few of whom I have been working with for years.

I also try to train them to use the telephone, almost always with success. Apart from the fact that this can clarify issues very quickly, it also helps to generate a friendly and lasting relationship.

Two examples:

Earlier in the year I dislocated my shoulder and was out of it for a few days. I warned my partners about this. A few days later what happens? A 'Get well' card arrives from an agency, together with a box of chocolates. I was completely dumbfounded!

Prepared to go the extra mile for them? You betcha!

I have another customer who is a true professional but also an inveterate flirt! I wonder whether we bring a little sunshine into our lives with the fun we have?
Even if it's a very quick and urgent call, it's still different (and fun) to be addressed as "darling"

Become friends with these guys and it makes life both pleasant and profitable.

Or the other version: you know someone really well, they Skype you and just say "Hey Chris - free today?"

I like the human aspect, especially since we live in our own little quiet cloistered existence.

You can imagine how I feel when I get a mail telling me that I am honoured to have been selected as a candidate to fill out a form and submit a sample translation... Being environmentally-minded, I often 'recycle' these, depending upon the politeness of the approach.

When I worked for an outsourcer, I remember that it was the people who were known by phone (and good) who got a good share of the work.

Cheers
Chris


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:15
English to German
+ ...
This just in Jun 7, 2008

Today I received the following note from a new PM at my favorite agency (the PM just started on Monday):

"I just wanted to write you with a special thank you.
This was my first project at [agency] and it went extremely well thanks to you. I truly appreciate how much easier and more smoothly you made my first job go, as well as your kind welcome."

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. (Bogart, "Casablanca")


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Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 14:15
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Compromise and involvement Jun 7, 2008

Whenever the PM really shows signs of getting interested, involved, really committed to achievement of quality and reasonable results, that is the main point for me.

Otherwise, if the PM hasn't the least idea what it is all about; or if the PM just lets you "do what you can"; or if you don't get the necessary feedback; or, worst of all: if you ask sensible questions to the PM and all you get is a "please shut up and work as you should", then that is quite unpleasant and unprofessional!


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 19:15
French to Dutch
+ ...
My idea Jun 7, 2008

Thanks to proz I am never contacted by any "our rates are…" people anymore. Seven or eight years ago I had them on the phone, now they are all here posting job "offers" and my profile is not complete and cheap enough to attract them.

Hence the only new clients who contact me are either contacts of my existing clients, by word-of-mouth, either people coming from the local translators' associations; and both categories know all about professional translation and the corresponding rates.

I like if the PMs and direct clients are honest and reacting quickly and pick up the phone if necessary. Instructions are useful, but I don't like those who are telling me how to work (I once had a direct client calling my from India, where she took some holidays, to tell me to use the spellchecker!) and those who are overloading me with information material or who are anxious (of course it will be there in time!). And especially those who are proofreading my work, because agency proofreaders are often beginners and in my case rarely understand what I am doing (only the end client knows (maybe, in some cases)). I don't like the PMs who cut all the repetive sentences in the file and give only the small bits to be translated and then insert themselves, without knowing my language, sentences in the wrong place and sometimes even replace words. A bad way to save some euros. And I hate to receive one or two pages for next week or in a fortnight, because this always means that I will forget it, have to send it in a hurry, receive questions at 8 o'clock in the evening, or that three days or weeks later the document is still there, in a drawer, so to say.

The translation process is in fact very simple and can be short: the agency sends the translation => the translator translates => the translator sends it back and, and at the end of the month makes an invoice. If this is not going smoothly, it is frustrating.

Oh yes, I really hate to be contacted by a robot (the automatically generated "please have a look at our website and confirm this project by clicking on the OK-button" kind of thing).


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Lela Pavliashvili  Identity Verified
Georgia
Local time: 21:15
Member (2008)
English to Georgian
+ ...
We are the team and work for success Jun 8, 2008

I like feeling that PM and I are the team and work together for the best result!

As I am IT and work in very specific language, some times localization project meets problems with encoding and so on. I like when I am involved in problem solving and suggest that this version of software works with my language, but that does not. I like to be updated how it gone, if it worked on client side, was it finaly solved or still remains.

I also like when I am informed about stages of the project, if it will be checked, back-translated and when can I expect it back for corrections. This helps me to see the project in the whole and to manage my time. I don't like project
"hi,
volume:
deadline:
by,
P.S. confirm"

And! humour... I like read short, fun phrases with touch of irony about self-side, when they have to suddenly send one more file, or made mistake. Such phrases have the meaning "sorry, I know we are @#$$@, but this has to be done! please be kind, do it" and smiling I write accept letter

[შესწორების თარიღია 2008-06-08 21:58]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:15
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Hi Chris Jun 8, 2008

Textklick wrote:

Parrot wrote:

The industry wasn't cut out for bulk. I prefer small- to medium-sized specialists.

Ceci


Hi Ceci:

Not sure quite what you mean by the first sentence, but I'm with you on the second one.


I was referring to some mammoth concerns (it seems) who chalked you off their roster with your last rate hike, and two years later, here they are again with "Dear Translator" (and, invariably, "our rates are...").

Or companies on another continent you used to work with at rate X and now move into your neighbourhood asking for X-2. (Who said I was to pay the movers?)

There are a lot of other types of examples. What I don't mind in bulk is teamworking or conference organization (where the bulk is temporary). But an agency or a job that grows in the sense that more people doing less work are involved and more errors may take place, at a higher end cost and lower profit... simply doesn't make sense, I think.


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Vicky James
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:15
French to English
Oh dear Jun 13, 2008

I have been wondering about how to improve agency relations for a while, as many of the irritations mentioned above are starting to really grind me down. But I am unsure as to how to break out of this vicious circle of agencies with more on their minds than quality translations (which in my mind should be their priority). Far from proofreading my work, I wonder sometimes if they even care what language I've written in! (judging by some of the dogs dinners generated by their translation tools and which I am told to "leave alone", just to save them a few euros, perhaps they don't). I would love to be valued for what I produce (and told so) rather than feeling as though my only value lies in how I can improve someone's sales target.
Is it just a matter of luck, landing a sympathetic, professional agency? Or has anyone out there got any pointers?


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