Inform, don’t choose on behalf of your clients. This is a very important aspect of our profession and one that sometimes may be misunderstood. AUSIT Code of Ethics is quite clear on this topic and if we are a member you must comply with these rules. I know that we always want to provide the best service to our clients and part of that is helping them out with whatever they need, but we must be very careful about the help we provide because we cannot preempt our clients’ choices.
You must inform your client of all options available
It is our duty to provide all relevant information about the services we provide. For example, if a client contacts us and tells us they need a translation done, we must provide them with all categories of translation that we do. We need to ask questions, I have said this previously and I’ll say it again, asking lots of questions will ensure you know everything about the project and how to help your client in the best way possible. So, still for the example of translation, and taking myself as an example, I would ask the client which direction is the translation to be made if it is an official application and needs to be certified, how many pages, etc. Then I tell the client that I offer regular translation services from English to European Portuguese and vice versa, but for Certified Translation, I can only offer services from English into Portuguese. This will allow the client to know all the translation services I provide and then choose the best suitable one for their needs.
What if the client asks what is the best option?
If you work with the Portuguese community, then you will know that is part of the culture to ask the professional for advice. It is a thin line between being culturally acceptable to your community and being ethical in your professional conduct. But you must always uphold your Code of Ethics, so, you need to be strategic, so you still give your client the best advice to make them feel reassured and not breach your Code of Ethics. In my case, and if the question is asked I always explain the differences and the use for each service. Then I tell the client that if they are unsure, to please ask at the destination of that translation what service they require. For example, if it’s an application, they must tell them if a certified translation is required, which most certainly will. This way, they know you are doing your best to provide them with the best service but you are also giving them the freedom to choose what suits them best.
They choose the best for them
In the end, they will know what options they have available for them and they can always refer to the entity where that translated document is destined to make sure they are choosing exactly what they need. It makes them feel assured they know everything about that project, and it also reassures you that you are providing them with the best service and still comply with our Code of Ethics.
It may look a bit confusing or difficult, especially when culture plays a role in the whole process. You don’t want to upset the client and you want to help them in a culturally acceptable way, but if you know how to do it, you still give the client the assistance they need without preempting their choices.