In every industry, customer service is very important to build up clientele and, most importantly, to keep that clientele. So, for translators and interpreters is no different.
Since I started my career, this has always been a very important part of my business model. I put myself in the client’s shoes and I do what I would like to get if I were to hire my services. Definitely, transparency would be one of my requirements, professionalism, a deep understanding of the client’s needs, and skills, of course.
Being transparent is very important, at the end of the day, this is a trust relationship and the client needs to trust the translator in order to be able to work with them. I provide a price list on my website, so my clients won’t have any unsavoury surprises. Being honest and upfront will help clients to build that trust.
Having a deep understanding of the client’s needs will help choose the most suitable service for them. For example, if a client simply wants the content of their website translated, they shouldn’t be paying for certified translation, since they don’t really need that. A translator must provide that advice, by telling the customer all the options and pricing for the services offered. Then the client will be able to make a better-informed decision and chose the service they need. However, a translator should never choose on the client’s behalf, our job is to provide the client with all the options available and let them chose the one that suits them best.
Then it is important to do our job with outmost professionalism and skill. For that I believe communication is very important. We may be translators, but we are not dictionaries, and there are terms or expressions we may not know. We have to search. I usually start with the client. When I’m working on a technical field, which is usually where these sorts of issues happen, before searching I ask my client. I may do a preliminary online search to have an idea of what comes up and compare it to my own interpretation of it, then I will ask my client to give me an idea of what it is, giving them my interpretation, and the responses I found online. This happens often when I’m working with casino games’ rules and certification reports, where I have to ask my client about certain words that refer to processes or technical parts involved in the certification process. I must admit I was a bit scared of asking clients when I started my career, back then I was concerned they would think I was not skilled enough for the job and never come back. Today, and after 10 years in this industry, I strongly believe it is a part of providing good customer service. My search could provide me with very good options; however, they may not be the best option, and asking the client is the best option to ensure I’m translating the term or expression correctly, since they are the authors and they know what they meant. It is part of that trust relationship, they will trust you and your work, because they know you go above and beyond to do your job, and to make sure you provide them with the best possible service.
Ultimately, I believe all of these points fit into one single category, that is professionalism. Acting professionally, ethically and having respect for the clients and their needs means being aware of your skills and how to adequately do your job, having a good communication with your clients and, of course, provide them great customer service. This has been my philosophy for more than 10 years.