How to ask for client feedback

Do you ever feel like your translations get sucked into some black hole after you turn them in? Do you ever wonder how effective your writing really was? Are you looking for a way to forge a stronger relationship with your project manager or direct client?

suggestion box

Ask for feedback! That advice might seem to fall under the “easier said than done” category, but you can do it. It just takes a tiny bit of gentle nudging. This is what works for me:

  • Ask questions that focus on the buyer‘s experience with the project, rather than your own—questions like, “Were you satisfied with the quality of the work you received?” or  “Are there any specific ways could I help you better next time?” Make it clear that receiving feedback is not only important to you, it can help your client as well.
  • Ask multiple times. I include a short request at the bottom of every delivery email and on my invoices, too, welcoming “any comments or compliments.” I offer three ways to respond (email, via ProZ, or on LinkedIn). Anyone who hasn’t given feedback before, or who ordered an unusually large project, gets a short, friendly follow-up email within 2 weeks.
  • Provide some context with questions. I ask a maximum of 3 specific questions to help my clients organize their thoughts and let them know what aspects of working together I’m most interested in improving/changing. For example, I don’t often ask about pricing, because I’m not interested in renegotiating rates. However, I do wonder how I can better match my writing style to their preferred styles.
  • Be patient. Sometimes clients can’t comment right away, because they haven’t had time to review the work, or haven’t received comments from the end-client yet. Other times, they want to wait and see if you are consistent across projects before they say anything.
  • Make it a prerequisite for any unpaid work you do. I’m happy to provide short test translations to agencies—as long as they let me see the reviewer’s comments. I love to work with nonprofits on pro bono projects—if they are willing to give me feedback and a letter of recommendation. One caveat here: providing free translations doesn’t mean you are due compliments if your work is sub-par. Always do your best work!

How do you solicit feedback from clients? What works best for you?

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8 thoughts on “How to ask for client feedback

  1. I’ve been meaning to ask for client feedback for a while but never get round to it. These tips are very useful, will definitely try them out. One thing I also plan to do is publish the feedback on my site. I think it adds validity and a greater sense of professionalism (though I do also think that you should ask for feedback because you want to improve your work!).

  2. Thank you Carolyn. Great suggestions, very clear and precise, the way it should be when dealing with feedback from a client. It’s never easy, but certainly a necessary step to grow as a professional.

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  4. Excellent! But what next? Assuming a client was very negative – do you answer giving your arguments? Or just thank politely?

    • Good question! First off, apologize (whether you think you should have to or not). If you get the feedback in a timely manner, offer to make corrections free of charge or resolve the issue in some other way. If they’re willing to work with you again, you might offer a discount on the next job. And in any case, two things: keep your emotions out of it, and make sure you learn from your mistake. Does that help?

  5. Pingback: On freelancing | translation, untangled

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