Thread: Promising practices

Is it useful for a freelance translator to carry out a customer satisfaction survey?

Michael Farrell, Mortara (PV), Italy

Background and purpose While wondering why the flow of work had suddenly stopped during an unusually slack period in October 2011, Michael Farrell hit on a way of finding out if his clients had been shopping around and had found cheaper and/or better language service providers elsewhere without actually asking them the rather embarrassing question straight out.

Solutions and recommendations With the declared aim of offering services more in line with his customers' requirements, he became perhaps the first professional freelance translator in history to send his clients a customer satisfaction questionnaire. The research he did in order to understand the philosophy behind this kind of survey and choose the right questions to ask gave him a totally new perspective on how his clients perceive the quality of the services he offers. Although many of the replies to the survey questions were to some extent predictable, some of the answers he received were perhaps a little unexpected.

Presentation content At the beginning of his talk Michael Farrell explains the declared and undeclared aims of his survey. He then proceeds to discuss the research he did into customer satisfaction questionnaires, the kinds of questions asked by service providers, and how appropriate the typical questions are to the translation industry. He follows this by illustrating the questions he actually chose to include in his survey and the purpose of each one. He naturally then goes on to describe the results of the survey itself and the conclusions he draws from the answers he received. He closes the talk by saying what he has learnt from doing the survey and what he would do differently next time. He also explains why he believes the experience was entirely positive from all points of view.


Michael Farrell is primarily a freelance technical translator, but also an untenured lecturer in computer tools for translation and interpreting at the IULM University (Milan, Italy), Atril Certified Training Partner, and the author of -œA Tinkerer's Guide to Structured Query Language in Déjà Vu X-. He is also the developer of the freeware terminology search tool IntelliWebSearch and an ordinary member of the Italian Association of Translators and Interpreters (AITI).