Client Feedback Doesn't Have To Be Hard. Read These 6 Tips.
Dealing with client feedback isn’t always easy. When you’re a creative person, you put a little bit of yourself into every project you tackle, even if the work is for someone else. That means it can be hard to take feedback with a cool, calm demeanor and move on to making revisions.
But the longer you freelance, the more you learn that feedback is important. For one thing, it helps the final result turn out how the client wants it—and that means happy clients, and (hopefully) repeat customers. And secondly, sometimes clients have really great feedback and ideas on how to enhance your work!
Whether you’re dealing with an all-star client, or an unhappy client, here are a few tips to get you through client revisions, while staying true to your work and yourself.
1. Listen carefully & be respectful
Even if you don’t particularly agree with your client’s thoughts on the work, hear them out and give yourself some time to absorb the feedback. Try to put yourself in their shoes and think about why they may see things the way that they do. At the end of the day, it’s your job to create something that your client loves—so even if you end up disagreeing, try to provide revisions that meet their feedback while also making yourself proud.
2. Ask questions
If any of your client’s comments seem confusing, or if you’re not quite sure what they want you to revise, just ask. Get clarification on exactly what you need to fix before you start making changes, so you don’t waste time thinking or working on the wrong revisions. Your client will appreciate that you aren’t wasting their time and money.
Also, sometimes it’s hard for a client to pinpoint the exact problem they have with something, especially if they aren’t an expert in your field. By asking questions, you can help identify what needs to be changed and tweak your work to create exactly what they want.
3. Get feedback in writing
Ask your client to deliver feedback in a written format, like an email. If they’d rather discuss the changes on a video chat or phone call, recap the changes afterward and shoot them to your client to approve before you move forward with changes. Being on the same page with a client is key to delivering a round of revisions that you’ll both be happy with.
4. Adjust the scope if needed
Usually, you’ll agree upon a set amount of revisions before you start work on a project. But if your client is asking for big changes, or for you to start from scratch, you may have to adjust the scope and budget accordingly. If this is the case, be clear and state this in writing to your client.
This is one time when it can feel tricky to ask for more money, but if you agree to make a lot of changes at the same initial rate, you’re not just losing out on income. You’re also setting the bar for future relationships with this client. Don’t let “scope creep” happen to you. Even when changes seem small, if they weren’t included in the initial contract, there should be additional payment involved. Just be clear and communicate any added costs to your client before beginning work on revisions.
5. You can push back (nicely)
You don’t have to take every bit of feedback exactly as the client lays it out. In fact, part of your job is to look at client feedback critically and point out any changes that might not be best for the project. For instance, the client might not be able to visualize how their changes may affect the project as a whole. In these cases, they need your guidance as an expert in your field.
If there are any pieces of feedback you disagree with and can back up the reasons why, bring it up on a phone call or in an email. If you justify why you handled something the way you did, your client may see things in a different light and adjust their feedback accordingly.
Make sure to approach this gently, and avoid aggressive language when pushing back on feedback. Clients will be much more receptive to intelligent, thoughtful arguments than defensive, critical remarks.
6. Don’t take it personally
This is easier said than done, but our last tip on receiving feedback is to try your best to separate your personal emotions from client feedback. This is especially important when dealing with a difficult or negative client.
If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed by a client’s comments to your work, take a moment to collect yourself before responding. And remember that sometimes you and a client will simply have different tastes. In that case, finish those revisions as best you can and keep your head up high.
So yeah, dealing with feedback is always a bit tricky. But if you communicate with your client, clarify everything before you make changes, and bring your opinions to the table, you can make the entire process just a little bit easier on everyone.