No one is infallible. No matter how good a translator you are, you can make mistakes. Or, sometimes, even if you haven’t made a mistake, your client can still be convinced you have.
As a freelancer and solopreneur, there’s no sales department you can forward the email on to. Worse luck. There’s no handy phone number you can give a client so they can speak to customer service. Your mobile is the only phone that’s going to ring.
If you’re lucky, you might have your dog sitting in your home office offering a bit of moral support, or you might translate from a co-working space, but more often than not, freelancers spend the working day alone physically as well as metaphorically.
Receiving a client complaint can really throw you off, if you let it. But, there’s no need to let a complaint ruin your day.
If you accept it as par for the course and have a set process in place to deal with these situations when they crop up, you’ll take it far less personally and get the issue sorted out as quickly as possible, with minimal heartache for both parties.
To help you put one in place, here’s mine:
- Pin down the issue
A simple, vague complaint that they don’t like what you’ve done or the way you’ve done it isn’t enough. Politely ask the client for details of exactly what they feel needs to be corrected and why.
- Correct it
Correct the errors according to the client’s comments, adding any notes you think relevant.
If they’ve already had the corrections done by a third party then ask for the corrected work and read it carefully to see if you agree with the changes made.
Make any comments you consider to be necessary, clearly but respectfully.
- Figure out what went wrong
Now’s the time to be honest with yourself. Was it a genuine mistake on your part? Could anything have been done to avoid it? Was the deadline too tight?
Did you not ask the client all the questions you should have? Did you skip out any of the normal quality assurance tests you do? Was your mind dwelling on other things?
- Figure out how to stop it happening again
Having established why it happened, it’s time to think about how you can prevent it from becoming a recurring problem.
Perhaps you need to be slightly less ambitious with the quantity of work you take on, or the tightness of the deadlines. Perhaps you could benefit from the use of a new tool, or some new training.
On the other hand, it might be a matter of being kinder to yourself. Perhaps, when you know you’re not doing your best work, you need to be better at giving yourself a break and coming back to it with fresh eyes.
Whatever you decide upon, make sure it’s at the back of your mind when the next inquiry pops into your inbox.
- Give compensation
If you’ve accepted responsibility for the error, then does it justify a discount? If you feel it does, then offer it to the client promptly.
Maintain a professional manner and definitely don’t beg for forgiveness, as absolutely everyone in this world is entitled to make mistakes.