When I am on vacation, I like to travel. I do not like to stand still in one place for long. Ok, sometimes it is nice and cosy to lie in the sun, walk along the beach, or eat an ice cream, though this is not my ideal vacation. On those rare occasions in my life when I have plenty of idle time, I cannot do without thinking about where I stand now in my profession, what I would like to do next, which situations I do not like, and what I want to change in my working life.
These days I was thinking about problem clients and asked myself: who is my ideal client, the client I want to work with?
My ideal client replies to messages and sends useful information. I perfectly understand that I am the problem-solver for my clients. They do not want to solve problems themselves; otherwise, they would have not called a translator to find translation solutions. However, great results arise from cooperation. If I do not understand the source text I am translating or have doubts on the best way to translate an investment fund factsheet for a retail or institutional investor, I expect my ideal client replies to my questions. Because it is in the interest of both to do a great translation job (and sell that investment fund).
My ideal client says thank you. When a plumber fixes my tap, I thank him. When I buy a coffee machine at the store, I thank the clerk giving advice on what is the best coffee machine for me. When somebody opens the door for me, I say thank you. You help me, I thank you. You send me work, I thank you. You work for me, I thank you. It is a sign of appreciation and mutual respect.
My ideal client always replies to estimates, even if he/she decides not to accept my quotation. Maybe they decided for somebody else, maybe they decided not to translate the presentation. If I get a reply, I know I am free to work on something else, I do not allocate time. If my ideal client says the reasons why he/she did not accept my quotation, I may improve my services and quotation in the future.
My ideal client is transparent with me when he/she decides to change supplier after 10 years of relationship, maybe because of price, or because he decided not to translate a monthly report any longer. It happened to me. A long-standing client suddenly disappeared because he decided to appoint a big LSP instead of a freelance translator. Even if he was totally satisfied with the quality of my work. A new CEO changed the company policy. This is perfectly normal in the business world, I can accept it, but I expect that my ideal client gives me advance notice and – hopefully – an explanation, instead of leaving me wondering what went wrong (when nothing actually went wrong apart from his lack of transparency).
My ideal client gives feedback about my work. My ideal clients tell me if there is a technical term they prefer to translate in another way, if they prefer another style, or if they are not satisfied with my approach or organization. People often tend to complain when it is too late, sometimes they are aggressive. Constructive feedback, supported by examples and reasons, allows us to improve, to improve our relationship, to improve my job, to improve the final result.
My ideal client learns to think global. Authors of financial documents often do not adopt a global approach. Well, they may not know. It is my duty to remind them that their texts in English will be translated into Italian, or another language, where metaphors about cricket or baseball are not the best way to sell their products in Italy. My ideal client understands that thinking global from the start will make my work easier and the final text more readable and effective for the target investor.
My ideal client never says “it is only a couple of sentences, you will take less than half an hour” and then sends me five pages which will take me three hours. My ideal client does not underestimate my work, asks for collaboration. It is a win-win relationship, where I can trust you as much as you can trust me.
My ideal client pays on time. We agree on payment terms at the beginning of the project. I will deliver the translation in time – most of the time ahead of the delivery date/time. In turn, I expect my clients to pay on time.
Aretha got it right.
All I’m askin’…. is for a little respect… just a little bit of respect…
Let me know what you think through the hashtag #MyIdealClient