Have you Received a Client Feedback? Great Opportunity to Increase the Customer Value

By Marcos Chiquetto

Tuesday morning in our translation agency, in Rio de Janeiro. Our project manager Alexandra, working in home-office, has just turned on her computer. Several messages are coming from Translatex, a multilingual agency based in London who outsources to us their projects targeting Portuguese (Names of PM and client are fictitious).

All messages refer to current on-going projects, except this one, referring to an English>Portuguese job we delivered two months ago:

Alexandra opens the message:

Alexandra examines the files and call me:

— Hi Marcos, I have just received a feedback from Translatex on a job we delivered two months ago. Their client inserted dozens of revisions, most of them just preferential changes. Could you take a look at the material?

— Forward it to me, please.

— OK.

The message arrives at my machine. I open the files. It looks like they inserted changes in every paragraph.

Examining a sample of the revision marks, Alexandra´s impression is confirmed: most are preferential changes, many of them even worsening the translation. Very few of them actually improving the work.

A typical issue in a translation agency: the client of our client had our work reviewed by someone lacking experience in translation, who took as errors all points where our translation was different from what she/he would have done. Probably, at this very moment, they are experiencing a negative feeling about the work. That´s bad!

This is an extremely sensitive issue: our client, the multilingual agency, doesn´t have an internal resource knowledgeable in Portuguese, so they can not check whether or not their client pointed out real errors. If yes, they will have a problem. Surely, they are a bit nervous about it, and did the only thing they could have done: they asked us to go through all changes and assess the revision. As they are our partners for 20 years, they are inclined to believe the work is good, but they need our confirmation. The neutral and polite tone of their message shows they somehow have a positive expectation.

The requested task will take a lot of time. That is why Alexandra is asking for instructions.

The problem is: as a partner of multilingual agencies, we work within strict budgets. Additional unplanned hours spent on a finished job can have an impact on the cost.

But will this be really a loss of money?

At this point I mention Philip Kotler, the famous marketing theorist, who says that, to win over a new customer, a company must invest five to seven times more than the value to maintain such company as a client. In other words, it is much cheaper to keep a client you have than to win over a new one.

Fact is that all companies spend money to win over new clients, and when they get it, the money spent is seen as a acceptable cost. Why not spend money to keep the clients you have?

— But the profit margin of that job will be affected. It can even be converted in loss. No job can result in loss.

That is not true. What is important is not the profit of one particular job, but the customer lifetime value, which, as stated also by Philip Kotler is “the net present value of the stream of future profits expected over the customer’s lifetime purchases”. That is, what you must put on the scale is the overall value of the client, which is realized over the entire time interval they buy from you.

Our client, the multilingual agency, is anxious to have the confirmation that they can rely on us. If they feel insecure, they can try a different vendor. On the other hand, if they feel safe, they will stay with us, consolidating, or even increasing, their lifetime value.

In other words, the money we will spend assessing that feedback can result in more profit.

I call Alexandra:

— I have taken a look at the material. You are right. Their reviewer did not point out actual errors.

— So, I will accept/reject the changes and comment a sample of them.

— No. Please, take the necessary time to discuss every item. Use different colors for irrelevant changes/unacceptable changes/actual improvements and use a technical tone, avoiding being aggressive. Make sure to point out clearly the acceptable changes, where the reviewer´s choice is better than ours, so the client can be sure we are being honest.

— OK. I will do it.

She did it. Two days later we receive this message:

Well done.

A small cost to consolidate a long-term client.

Marcos Chiquetto is an engineer, physics teacher, translator, and writer. He is the director of LatinLanguages, a Brazilian translation agency specialized in providing multilingual companies with translation into Portuguese and Spanish.

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Sources:

Kotler, P. and Keller K. L., “Marketing Management”

Brazilian translation agency founded in 1985. We translate to/from english, portuguese and spanish. See more at http://www.latinlanguages.com.br/