How to be good (2). Tips for clients

In my last post, I gave some tips on “How to Be a Good Translator”. Good translators (editors, web designers, accountants, insert profession of your choice) tend to be even better when they’re working with good clients. The tips listed below (from my website article How to Be a Good Client) were written with translation clients in mind but many of them apply more generally.

I’m a client myself (to my web designer and accountant, for example) so I’ve been examining my conscience as I write. I plead guilty (sometimes) under point 18, my only excuse being forgetfulness.

  1. Give praise when it’s due.
  2. Give constructive feedback.
  3. Pay promptly.
  4. Be clear about deadlines. Don’t ask your supplier for an estimated delivery time if you already know you need the work tomorrow. Tell them your deadline at the outset.
  5. If you change your administrative procedures, let your supplier know in good time about the new arrangements. Please, do not suddenly suspend payments without prior notice while you get your new system up and running.
  6. If you have to follow public procurement procedures, keep tender eligibility criteria proportionate to the size and scope of the contract.
  7. Consider your translator/writer as part of the team. Let them communicate with content providers, web designers and anyone else involved in your projects.
  8. Provide your translator/writer with any background material, glossaries, terminology, style guides etc that you use. This will help them avoid errors and misunderstandings and produce work that suits your organisation’s style.
  9. Get your translator/writer involved in your project as early as possible. Send them a draft text if available so that they can familiarise themselves with the subject matter and make a start on the research. But make it clear that it’s only a draft.
  10. Edit your documents — surgically — before sending them for translation. You’ll trim a lot of fat and duplication, especially if the document contains contributions from different authors. And by having less material translated, you’ll save time and money.
  11.  Be open to input and suggestions from your translator/writer. They have lots of expertise, which they are happy to share with good clients.
  12. Understand that translators and writers are not glorified bilingual typists.
  13. Understand that translators and writers are skilled professionals.
  14. Understand that language students are precisely that: students. With very rare exceptions, they’re not able to produce usable, professional-level translations. (Would you entrust your defence in a court case to a second-year law student?).
  15. Understand that translators and writers sometimes have to do hours, indeed days, of research on your projects. And that their fee will reflect that.
  16. Understand that cost is what you pay, value is what you get.
  17. Remember that your translator/writer is on your side.
  18. If you ask for a quote and decide not to go ahead with the project, let your supplier know.
  19. Acknowledge receipt of completed projects.
  20. Say thank you.

Some of these points were covered in more detail in my Resolutions for clients post in 2011.

Comments and additional tips are welcome — from clients too, naturally.

By Marian Dougan

Published by Marian Dougan

Marian is a translator and editor (specialising in web content) currently based in Glasgow, Scotland. Marian previously lived in Italy for over 20 years, working as a language teacher, translator and policy analyst with the British Embassy in Rome. A qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and its Italian-language and ITI Scotnet networks, she is currently Scotnet's Convenor and Deputy Webmaster. From 2003 to 2006 Marian taught translation skills at the Italian Department of Glasgow University and now gives Master Classes as part of the new Masters in Translation Studies course. She also conducts web-writing and usability workshops to help people improve their websites and communicate more effectively with their readers, users and customers. In September 2014 Marian obtained User Experience Certification, with specialisation in Web Design, from the Nielsen Norman Group. She loves language, especially English, and is convinced that learning languages opens up people’s minds and horizons (and increases their brainpower!). To share her enthusiasm, she advises schools and educational authorities on language skills and enterprise. She gives talks to pupils on how to combine language studies with other subjects and so enhance their potential and increase their career options. Marian is an active member of organisations such as: Scottish Council Development and Industry (SCDI); Association of Scottish Businesswomen; Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Scotland. She also loves architecture, design, fashion (British Vogue!), cities and chocolate. She’s a great fan of Twitter and you can also find her on Linkedin.

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