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Posted on16 December 2016

Translation Agency Tips: #41: Handling Feedback on your Translation

Atlas Translations, Feedback, Clare Suttie, St Albans, London, translation agency

Translating for clients is often very rewarding but it can be hard to get there when you’ve just started working in the industry. Once you’re armed with the necessary experience and qualifications, you want to ensure your work is of the highest quality. But how will you know if your clients are happy with your translation? If you work with private clients, it’s very likely that you’ll get feedback from them whether it’s good or bad!

Positive Feedback on your Translation

Sadly the nicer set of feedback is received less often, as naturally clients expect translations to be accurate, and so by providing a good translation, you’re really just doing your job. Still it’s always nice to hear that your client is happy with your work. At Atlas, we save positive responses on file and forward them onto the linguists who worked on the job(s) so that they know the end client is happy. These may be useful people to contact for references or testimonials.

Aside from the nice, warm feeling that kind words can give you, take a careful note of positive feedback. If you’ve done something the client likes, make sure you do it again. The next time you’re contacted by the same (or a similar) client, you should have a record of the style and terminology you used previously. Now you will be able to reference this in the new project, ensuring the client is happy once again.

Negative Feedback on your Translation

If a client has rated your translation as not entirely satisfactory, you will want to find out the reason behind this. Is the issue simply a matter of style, and the client has a set of preferential terms that were not available to you? Or perhaps they were unhappy with the formatting. Maybe the client has misunderstood something, or not made what they wanted clear in the initial brief. Whatever the reason, if you’ve not met your clients’ expectations it is vital to find out why so you can avoid the same situation in the future.

Politely ask why your client was unhappy with your work, and ask for specific examples so you can see the exact issue(s). Receiving negative feedback is never fun, but it is crucial that you handle yourself professionally. Just because a client is initially unhappy doesn’t mean all is lost – you can still turn this around! A calm explanation, justifying the choices you made when working on your translation will demonstrate a method behind your working. It will also show a willingness to work with the client in providing them with an end product they are happy with.

Don’t overreact and take it personally – always reply to your clients politely and clearly state your point of view. It is vital to do this whether you agree or disagree with the feedback provided. Show your client that you’re open to discussing the matter further and to considering a different perspective. Always remember that the person you’re dealing with may not be used to working with translation. They may not have a complete understanding of how it works.

The Positives of Negative Feedback

Receiving negative feedback can become a positive. Firstly you will become more aware of potential issues, and focus on how you can improve your work next time. Also, you will learn how to handle similar situations should this happen again.
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