When You Get Feedback From the Client

In the previous blog entry “Inquiries to the Client: It’s a Team Effort“, I talked about the fact that often times, the language services provider (LSP) needs to contact the client.
Now, what happens when the client is the one who needs to make changes to your translation?

Interpreting feedback

First, it is necessary to emphasize something that’s very important: just because the client needs or prefers to make changes to your translation, it does not mean in any way that you should take it personally. This is a crucial point to keep in mind if you want to keep the LSP-client relationship intact. It is very well-known that the translator’s pride is often affected by any kind of “change” that someone wants to make to his translation (in fact, a translation is like “his” creation, and he somehow feels that he owns it). However, as we have said before, you shouldn’t overthink this. If it were possible to compare a translation to an object, we could say that a translation is a suit, and there are some cases in which the client wants a few final touches – a little less here, a little more there, but this shouldn’t be a reason to feel upset or offended.

Receiving feedback

Good. Now your client tells you that soon, he’ll be sending you the usual feedback. Ideally, if it’s a client with little experience- you would explain him how to send you the changes he wants, and by that I mean to ask him to be as clear and detailed as possible. Going back to the example of the suit, nobody would go to a tailor and say he needed something done because it didn’t fit, and then not know what needed to be changed. You have done your best, and thus, you deserve a detailed description of what to change and how to change it. For example: in a document (.doc), the client can make comments using the Insert > Comment tool. Another option is to use the Track Changes tool in the Review menu in Word.

How to incorporate the feedback

Once you receive the file with the comments, you shouldn’t work on that version, but only use it as reference. What you should do is look for the version you have submitted to the client (saved on your hard drive), create a copy of that version and divide up the screen in order to compare the file with the comments and the one you had sent. If you have a translation memory because you had worked with a computer-assisted translation tool, then you use the bilingual version, make the changes to your document, then into the translation memory and you save a new version of what you have done so far (which has been requested and approved by the client). Then you clean the file and send it back to the client.


What to do when you disagree with the client’s changes?

The client is always right. Sometimes more so than others. In cases in which you are faced with comments or suggestions that you know are not right for your translation, you should contact the client and discuss it. Do not forget to include (always in written form) a detailed explanation with all the reasons why you don’t recommend including such changes. If the client still insists that he wants to use “this” or “that” expression or term that you think is not correct, then you must incorporate it, but when making your final delivery, you should include your own comments reminding him that the use of “term X” is no longer your responsibility.
Let’s remember that the client has come to you because he needed your assistance and/or linguistic advice, but there are many cases where the client may turn to a third party (often even a relative who “speaks a little of both languages” or is “bilingual”) and this third party may come up with outrageous “corrections” that you would have never recommended to anyone.

However, when the changes are stylistic corrections, you are the one who ends up learning (you end up learning about the client, about his tastes and preferences), so you gain a competitive advantage and set yourself apart from the competition.

(Versión en español: Cuando recibimos feedback del cliente)