Learning from customer experience

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

As translators/interpreters, we are service providers. All companies/brands that sell services/products also provide an experience to their customers, and this experience starts from the very beginning, even before prospects contact us, when they try to find us or someone who can provide what they need. And it ends way after the product/service is delivered, but it doesn’t necessarily need to, that’s also the point.

As a customer, I love great experiences! I easily become loyal to brands that go beyond and provide me the best service possible. Likewise, I easily let go of brands who let me down somehow. And when there is reasonable competition, even the smallest detail can make a difference. As customers, we have a lot to learn also as entrepreneurs. After all, learning from mistakes (and successes) of others is better than making our own, right?

When we need something, a service or a product, we are vulnerable (or at least control freaks like me are). Leaving our comfort zones is not easy. We have to look for someone who can provide us something we need with quality, a reasonable price, reliability, and, most of the times, we do not have a clue as to what this means. If the service provider makes us feel at ease, comfortable and happy with their service, then we can easily trust them. If, on the other hand, they make our lives even more difficult than they already are, the entire experience becomes a nightmare.

Here are three real-life scenarios that I’ve been through and from which I learned a lot!

Scenario 1: Post office

Important fact: here in Brazil, mailmen usually don’t work on Sundays.

Another important fact: as you might all be aware, Brazil is not exactly a safe country. And I live by myself at a house, as opposed to an apartment, that is usually safer.

At 9 a.m. on a Sunday, the doorbell rings. I was still sleeping, because I had gone out the night before and arrived really late. I answer the intercom. A man on the other side identifies himself as the mailman. Still sleepy, I think, “The mailman, on a Sunday?” I ask him whom the package is for (something I always do, to check the person is indeed the mailman and the package is indeed intended for me, since other people have lived in my house before and their mail still keep coming). He confirms my name, in a rather impatient voice, probably noticing I’m reluctant. I think, “Ok, that is information people can easily get ahold of. This is still weird.” I tell him I find that strange, “I’m sorry, sir, but what guarantee do I have you are indeed the mailman, on a Sunday morning?” He becomes quite mad, goes away and leaves me speaking to myself over the intercom.

Later on, I find out they had been working on Sundays because they were late on deliveries. But I learned this from someone else, because the mailman himself didn’t even care to try to explain that to me.

I tried to track the package and see where it had been taken to, with no success. I got yelled at over the phone and hung up on a couple of times, so I just gave up.

Of course mailmen know they don’t usually work on Sundays. The guy was probably so pissed he had to work on a Sunday morning that he simply didn’t care. No empathy at all, no trying to understand my position, no respect, just plain rudeness.

Takeaway: We often complain that clients say “translator,” when they mean “interpreter,” or that they want everything for yesterday, and so on. And many of us are even rude or have no patience at all with people that are not from our area and that have misleading ideas about it. How would they know? It’s our role to be patient and try to explain, in a way they understand, how things work. Whining, complaining and having lack of patience with people are not the solution.

Scenario 2: Landline technical support

My landline was silent. I had no signal to make calls, but I ran some quick and simple tests and found out it was probably the device itself, not the connection. I took it to a place specialized in technical phone support. The girl ran not one, but several tests, in different power supplies, using different wires, until she found what the problem was.

This is it, plain and simple, right? You are probably thinking, “C’mon, that’s her job.” Yes, it is, I agree. However, unfortunately, people simply don’t do their jobs anymore. They simply don’t care. What I expected: her trying once or twice, at the most, and giving up, saying it was broken and that I needed to buy a new device. Instead, I was really impressed at how much she cared and tried to find what the problem was.

Takeaway: Are we doing our jobs? My clients are frequently ecstatic with me for just doing my job: delivering on time, sometimes, if possible, even earlier, doing a good job, etc. Basic things we are expected to do, but that, apparently, most translators don’t. Is the competition fierce? Are there a lot of translators out there? Yes and yes. However, what’s the quality of the service they provide? Delivering on time is Translation 101, Lesson 1. If, apart from that, you go a bit beyond and try to deliver earlier whenever you can, believe me, you win the client. Go the extra mile. Be the solution your client needs and, if you can’t solve their problem yourself, be proactive and try to find someone who can. Clients usually don’t have a clue about the translation world. We do.

Scenario 3: Nike store

I love Nike products. In my opinion, they are high-quality and worth every penny. I still wear clothes that are more than five years old and that are still in good shape. Ok, so I am already a fan of the brand, fine.

They have a cool store in São Paulo (I live in a town about two hours from the big city). The last time I went there I was amazed! As I was taking a look at the store and choosing what I would try on, the salesperson was preparing the dressing room with other suggestions of things I could like based on my choices. When I arrived in the dressing room, they had even written my name one the door! Maybe you wouldn’t care less about it, but I do. Who doesn’t like to feel special?

Takeaway: Each client is special in their own way and should be treated accordingly. We should make our clients feel they are unique, because they are. Pamper them whenever and however you can. I send personalized handwritten Christmas cards with a branded little something every end of the year to all my clients. I also send branded handwritten Thank You notes to clients and partners or whomever I feel like thanking. Whatever you do, make sure all your clients feel that you care about each of them and that they are special to you. This simple attitude may be what differentiates you from other equally great translators and what makes your clients not even think twice before requesting your services.

A key aspect to a successful customer experience (and to everything in life, let’s face it) is empathy. Wearing our customers’ shoes is essential to understanding their needs and providing the best service possible. It’s like that old saying by Confucius goes, “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.” And vice-versa. It’s as simple as that. No need to overcomplicate or overthink things. No secret formula. No million-dollar strategy.

What have you learned from your own customer experiences?

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Top 100 Language Lovers 2016

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Here I am, once another year, asking for your help to vote for me in the Top 100 Language Lovers 2016, a competition hosted by bab.la and Lexiophiles. This is the third consecutive year I take part in the competition. In 2014, I got into one of the Top 25 Language Twitterers (19th place) and, in 2015, I got into the Top 25 Language Twitterers again (19th place) and Top 25 Language Professional Bloggers (20th place).

This year, I got nominated for all possible categories: Twitter profile, blog, Facebook page and YouTube channel. And now I need your help to vote for them, should you like them, of course. 😉

Here’s how it works. It’s pretty easy and it won’t take more than 5 minutes, I promise.

To vote for this blog in the Language Professional Blog category, click here, hover over Carol’s Adventures in Translation, last on the fifth line, and click on the Vote button that appears.

To vote for my Facebook page, click here, hover over Alberoni Translations, last right on the first line, and click on the Vote button that appears.

To vote for my Twitter account, click here, hover over Caroline Alberoni, first on the fourth line, and click on the Vote button that appears.

And last but not least, to vote for my YouTube channel, click here, hover over Caroline Alberoni, last on the second line, and click on the Vote button that appears.

You can also find all the categories when you first access the website on the upper left side of the page. You can vote only once for each category. Voting phase ends in June 6th.

I’d really appreciate it, if you enjoy any or all of my pages, if you could vote for them. 🙂


Aqui estou eu, mais um ano, pedindo a ajuda de vocês para votar por mim na competição Top 100 Language Lovers (100 melhores sites relacionados a idiomas) realizada pelo bab.la. É o terceiro ano consecutivo que participo da competição. Em 2014, fui classificada como 19º melhor perfil do Twitter. Em 2015, fui novamente classificada como 19º melhor perfil do Twitter e como 20º melhor blog.

Neste ano, fui indicada em todas as categorias possíveis: perfil do Twitter, blog, página do Facebook e canal do YouTube. Agora, preciso da ajuda de vocês para votar por elas, caso vocês gostem dos meus canais, é claro. 😉

Para votar é muito fácil e não leva mais que 5 minutos.

Para votar neste blog na categoria Language Professional Blogclique aqui, passe o mouse sobre Carol’s Adventures in Translation, última coluna na quinta linha, e clique no botão Vote que será exibido.

Para votar na minha página do Facebookclique aqui, passe o mouse sobre Alberoni Translations, última coluna logo na primeira linha, e clique no botão Vote que será exibido.

Para votar na minha conta do Twitterclique aqui, passe o mouse sobre Caroline Alberoni, primeira coluna na quarta linha, e clique no botão Vote que será exibido.

Por último, mas não menos importante, para votar no meu canal do YouTubeclique aqui, passe o mouse sobre Caroline Alberoni, última coluna na segunda linha, e clique no botão Vote que será exibido.

As categorias podem ser todas acessadas na parte superior esquerda da página, caso você queira continuar no site. Só é permitido um voto por categoria. A fase de votação vai até 6 de junho.

Se você gosta de seguir qualquer uma das minhas páginas, seu voto será muito bem-vindo! 🙂

Show your love for Carol’s Adventures in Translation

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EXTRA! EXTRA! There’s a competition in the air.

This is an extraordinary blog post to let you know that the Top 100 Language Lovers 2015 is on. It’s a competition organized by Lexiophiles and bab.la to find the 100 best language lovers, divided into five categories: Language Learning Blogs, Language Professional Blogs, Language Facebook Pages, Language Twitter Accounts and Language YouTube Channels.

Last year, I was ranked as #19 Top Language Twitterer thanks to people who helped by nominating me, and then voting for me on the second phase of the competition. I’d like to kindly ask your help nominating my Facebook page and/or my Twitter account, if you like any or all of them. As to the blog, I’ve just received the great news that it has already been automatically nominated! 😀

Here’s the link.

Information to be filled out:

Name: Caroline Alberoni
Email: caroline@alberoni.com.br
URL of Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/alberoni.translations
URL of Twitter account: twitter.com/AlberoniTrans

You need to indicate each category separately.

The nomination phase ends on May 24th.

THANK YOU!

Now let’s keep our fingers crossed. 😀