How can good communication with clients improve your translation?

Communication with clients

Every translator has encountered the following scenario: one minute you are flowing through the text, translating one of the long paragraphs, rhythmically hitting the letters on the keyboard, alternately looking at the source and the target text, and the following minute you come across something in the source text which interrupts your typing rhythm and makes you wonder. What should you do next? Should you assume that this is a mistake and correct it in your translation? Or it would be better to contact the client and clarify this problem? What if the client does not respond in time?

All great translations are the result of good communication between the translator and the client. It is only with the presence of this kind of relationship that the translation itself can meet all the requirements of a client. That is why it is very important to immediately establish the fastest and the best way of communication with the client. This communication should not represent a difficulty in the translation process, but rather an opportunity to build a better relationship, so as to achieve the best translation possible.

In order to explain the text and document translation process to a potential client, it is highly recommended that you explain the most common questions about the translation services to the client. Here is more advice on how to deal with difficulties during the translation process:

1. Talk to the client and explain the difficulty

The translator should communicate with the client on a daily basis. If a certain part of a text can have more than one meaning, you should ask the client to provide you with more information about the text, especially about whether the text is intended for a website or whether it will be presented as a part of a document or maybe printed. If you come across a mistake or an inconsistency in the source text, you should inform the client about it and ask for clarification. Explain to the client that you require additional clarification and information because you want to provide the best translation possible and thus meet the client’s requirements. The clients will surely be willing to help you in a short notice, since you have informed them that this is for their own good.

2. Be polite, kind and professional

When sending a message to a client, always do your best to be polite and professional. If you find yourself in an unpleasant situation where the client wants you to translate the text in a way that you do not agree with, explain to the client why it is that you have chosen exactly those words in your translation and why it is that you think that your suggestion is the best choice. If you provide the client with an incorrect translation, it will definitely cause a lot of problems to the client himself/herself, even though the client may not be aware of that at the moment. You should always stay focused on what is best for your client and remember - even if you are having some trouble with the client, politeness and kindness is always the answer.

3. Offer the client more than one translation suggestion

Sometimes clients are not aware that words and sentences can have multiple meanings. If you find yourself in a situation like this or in a situation in which it is possible to offer several translation suggestions, all of which are correct, you should inform the client about it and provide him/her with translation nuances regarding the subject part of the text. After you have thoroughly explained a few translation suggestions to the client, it will surely be much easier for the client to give you feedback on the matter, i.e. to provide you with their opinion on the difficulty you are experiencing.

4. Always double-check the message you are sending to the client

In order to be sure that there are no mistakes, you should always check your message before sending it to the client. Whether the client himself/herself or some other person is reading your message, he/she will surely show more respect and understanding if that message, i.e. question, is clear, concise and written correctly.

How do you usually deal with translation difficulties such as these and do you communicate with your clients on a daily basis?