Last year, we wrote a blog post about the sometimes challenging issue of knowing when it is appropriate to ask the client for clarification regarding any issue that arises during a translation project. Many new translators are quite afraid of asking the client, and prefer to ask questions on industry forums and listservs, which can be helpful.
|Ask and you might get the answer.|
However, many times, the client might very well be the only one who has insight into something like, for instance, a company-internal acronym that no colleague in the world could possibly know. We think it's important to go straight to the source (read: client) in order to make the translation process efficient, but can certainly understand that translators -- both newcomers and experienced -- don't want to bug their clients too much. However, we do think that one fear is unfounded: that the client might think you don't know what you are doing if you ask a question. Quite the contrary. Asking questions (relevant ones, that is) can show the client that you really care about this project and that you are putting great thought and care into the translation. Here's what a dear client of ours told us a few days ago about this very issue. This client also happens to be a friend, and she mentioned what she likes about working with us, which made us very happy. Here's summary of what she said. We think it's quite important to hear the client perspective, so we are sharing it here:
- I like the fact that you sent me a few questions grouped in one e-mail that I could answer on my smartphone. I knew the answers right away and didn't have to do any research.
- I was pleased that you identified some areas that were company-internal, and that you reached out to me for clarification. There was no way you could have known these terms, as we created them, and it showed me that you cared.
- In terms of level of communication, I was happy because you didn't bombard me with e-mails but you didn't go completely silent either. I heard from you during the translation process and was able to keep my boss updated.
- You made me look good, as the translation was spot-on and I felt involved in the process. After all, I am the one who convinced my boss to have this text translated.
Of course, for every great experience like the one we have described above, there might be others where you ask questions and the client simply doesn't answer, doesn't have the answer, or says she will research it, but you never hear back.
What about you, dear friends and colleagues? Have you had good/bad experiences when reaching out to the client with any questions you had? We've love to hear your thoughts on this topic.