As a freelance translator, a large portion of your time will be spent talking with clients. Whether that's to discuss a potential contract, or to talk about an in-progress translation, it's essential to employ good customer service skills if you want to work with this client again in the future.
Our friends over at Vandelay Design posted a good article highlighting six effective principles to improve your customer service skills, and in this Hub post, we'll make those six principles applicable to the role of a freelance translator.
Principle 1: Listen
By listening to your client, you'll be actively working on your professional relationship. Like any relationship, the potential for miscommunication is possible. And when it comes to translation, misunderstanding a client's instructions might mean that they are unaware of errors in the completed translation! Thankfully, as a translator you'll have developed an ability to pay attention to details accurately, so be sure to put those skills to good use in your customer service as well as when listening to a client's wishes.
Principle 2: Respond
Today's society expects responses to be quick and often immediate, and taking measures to ensure that you always respond to client questions in a timely manner is necessary. Even if you don't have time to send a detailed reply, at least acknowledging a client's message keeps them in the loop and makes them feel well cared for.
Principle 3: Be patient
One of many sought-after virtues, patience will allow you to come across as a true professional. Most clients you work with won't be as familiar with translation as you are - and if they were, why would they be hiring you? With this in mind, you may be required to explain some of the more straightforward points of the translation process, or answer questions that seem obvious to you. When doing so, ensure that you adopt a patient attitude. After all, treating clients as if they are stupid will ensure that you won't get any more translation work from them!
Principle 4: Show courtesy
Whenever dealing with a client, make sure you do so in a courteous manner. Courtesy goes a long way when impressing a client, and if a prospective client is trying to decide between hiring you or another translator, then being more polite and easy to get on with than the competition may well win you the contract.
Principle 5: Collaborate
Working as a freelancer often means that you're used to working by yourself. However, try thinking of yourself as a vital part of your client's team, which as their translator, you certainly are! By ensuring that your area of responsibility is taken care of without any trouble, your client will be likely to work with you again in the future.
Principle 6: Care
Last, and certainly not least, be sure to care about your clients too. Whilst it's necessary to have a constant source of work and income, your motivation for offering good customer service should be based on actually caring about your clients as human beings rather than doing so as a means to an end. If you need some inspiration for this, try checking out our post on getting personal with your clients
Which of these areas do you think you could improve on? Or maybe you know of further steps to take to ensure good customer service? Let us know in the comments below.