How to handle silly questions from clients
Asking for translation quotes can sometimes become taut moments that may throw some agents or project managers off-guard. The seriousness of a conversation during quotes expects nothing short of formal – often leaning to an almost stiff and rigid tone. But when clients start asking project managers silly questions like “When can I see the translator?” or “Do I send the documents today so you can finish it in two weeks?” you know they’re in for some really interesting talk.
Translation queries are full to data and number, dates and names, even technical terminologies and applications. In other words, what transpires during these conversations are what typically happens in most business transactions – clients discussing about business needs and going on lengthy details explaining expectations and goals, and project managers selling his team and hoping to close the deal soon enough so he can do other tasks. It can be a rough rollercoaster ride sometimes, or an almost stationary and dreary one like being stuck in traffic. For the most part, conversations during these transactions would start appropriately and end in the same way. You start from point A, you go to point B or C, or do a turn for point D, and then it’s done.
And then there are days when a prospective client calls in to ask about the services being offered. He may start too dreary – even boring – then drops the bomb: “Should I write a five-page document or a ten-page document?” If you are the project or liaisons manager, how should you react to that?
Handling silly questions from clients can actually be a great opportunity for longer professional relations. Of course, such “interesting” starts will elicit giggles or fits of laughter. Good for you if you have a way of controlling immediate reactions, otherwise it may embarrass you and your prospective client (who may not even become prospective too soon after all). But a situation like this can actually turn into a golden opportunity. It breaks the ice; it destroys the monotony and seriousness of things – in a positive way, of course.
Clients vary; and they can be quite discerning too. What you expect them to see is the same that they expect you to deliver – on the dot. When some clients get too pesky with their line of questioning, the project manager sometimes cannot decide whether to take heed in his trivial invitation for something uninteresting to begin with, or to completely ignore it and go on with his usual routine. But clients often just want to make the working relations lighter. And in this case, he may just be testing the water since he is new and is in the lookout for a translation partner.
How do you identify and separate clients then? Who are the funny ones? Who are the plain silly ones? For sure, these are questions that project managers have long wanted to discuss in the open. The sensitivity of this subject is nothing short of trivial if you think about it. Questions during quotes actually help start a professional relationship. This is where it all begins. Work starts from translation quotes, and never from the submission of source documents.
For when dealing with silly questions from silly clients (who are just being clever sometimes, or trying so hard to be one), the more suitable question to ask is this: Do you prefer losing your patience? Or losing your client?