How to Get Better Feedback From Your Clients
Client feedback can be the best or worst part of your business – sometimes on the same day! But whether feedback is positive or negative, the way that you manage it is vital to helping your business succeed and to keeping you productive and happy.
That's why we want to share some of our best practices for getting more positive feedback and resolving negative or critical feedback quickly and in a way that satisfies your clients.
Set the Stage for More Positive Client Feedback
There's one feedback strategy that a lot of businesses overlook. And that's attracting and partnering only with the kind of clients who are most likely to give you positive feedback in the first place.
By limiting your clientele to people who understand and appreciate your unique value, you're going to be a lot happier, and so will they. These are the clients who will give you rave reviews, repeat business and referrals to new clients.
So how do you call in the people who'll be thrilled with your work? Make sure every aspect of how your brand looks and sounds speaks to your dream audience. Whether they first encounter your brand on your website, on social media or your email newsletter, they need to feel instantly that they're in the right place.
Clarify Expectations for Better Feedback
Sometimes a client gives negative feedback because they had inaccurate expectations about your work together. To head off this kind of negative feedback, start establishing what your clients can expect early — even when they first visit your website. When we write the copy for our clients' websites, we make sure to talk about what it's like to work with them and what kind of results their audience can expect.
You can continue managing expectations after you start working with a client as well. For example, consider having your clients sign an agreement (that you sign, too) about what you can expect from each other. It can be so helpful to get stuff like timelines and how you will communicate captured in writing.
At DesignGood, the brand foundations that we create for clients also help with the feedback process. A client's foundational brand language is the set of standards and guidelines for how their brand will communicate in words. When the client offers us feedback on their web copy, they can refer back to their foundational brand language to make sure we understand the changes they'd like to see. For example: "My core brand vocabulary includes words like insightful, bold and unexpected. This paragraph in the home page copy doesn't quite feel like it fits with my brand vocabulary."
Help Your Clients Give Useful Feedback
Another way to make the feedback process smoother and more productive for both your clients and you is to give them tips on providing effective feedback for the kind of work you do. By offering this advice, you can address a couple of key problems that your clients might have in giving feedback.
First, some people are just uncomfortable offering any critical feedback. These people tend to dislike conflict and want to keep everything pleasant. But if they're hiding dissatisfaction with your work — especially if it's dissatisfaction you could easily address — that's not good for your business. They're unlikely to keep working with you (and you won't know why) or offer you referrals.
Second, it's totally understandable that your clients might not understand how to give useful feedback for the kind of work you do. After all, they're not an expert in your field — that's why they hired you!
At DesignGood, we give our clients tips to both help them feel comfortable giving feedback and to deliver that feedback in a way that helps us get the results they want faster. Here are a few examples that might also be relevant to your business.
- Emphasize that you want feedback. If your business is like ours, getting feedback early is crucial to keeping projects on time and on budget.
- Give examples of clear feedback. If your client leaves a note on your work that says something like "redo this part" or "this isn't working," that's not very helpful to you! So, at the outset, show your client what useful feedback looks like. In our business, actionable feedback might sound like "I love this copy because it really sounds like me" or "This design isn't working for me because it doesn't look friendly enough." This not only helps us complete revisions faster. It also helps us better understand the client so that we can get closer to the results they want the first time around as our work together continues.
- Welcome questions about your work. If your clients don't understand why you did something a certain way, it's better for them to let you know ASAP.
- Your clients may get bogged down in giving feedback if they think they need to provide a solution for every problem they identify. Instead, encourage them to simply flag the problem to you, so you can develop the solution (and save them time.). For example, if a client feels that the copy we created for their home page is a little too long, we want them to ask us to shorten it instead of using their valuable time to edit it themselves.
We adapted these tips from "Dear Client: This Book Will Teach You How to Get What You Want from Creative People" by Bonnie Siegler, which has lots of other great ideas on how to work productively with your clients.
Make the Most of Positive Feedback
Let's wrap things up on a positive note by talking about the kind of feedback we all love: glowing praise from happy clients.
The way that you manage positive feedback is just as important as how you deal with criticism. Praise doesn't just make you feel good. It can also be an invaluable tool for your business if you follow a couple of key steps.
First, record that praise. Testimonials provide social proof that encourages prospective clients to work with you. When a client pays you a compliment, that's your cue to ask them to provide a testimonial. Even better, build asking for testimonials into your process for working with clients.
You'll get more and better testimonials if you make the process easy. We're all busy, and crafting a testimonial can feel like a lot of work. You can take some of the pressure off by asking for short testimonials (two sentences, 150 words, etc.) focused on a particular aspect of a client's experience with you that you want to highlight. Some people are also self-conscious about expressing themselves in writing. In those cases, you can offer to interview your client and write up the testimonial yourself for them to review.
Once you have captured your clients' positive feedback in great testimonials, put those testimonials to work for you. They're an important part of your website, of course. But you can also turn your testimonials into graphics for social media and use them in marketing materials like pitch decks.
Are you making the most of feedback to help your business grow and evolve? At DesignGood, we can help you showcase your expertise and attract an audience who will love your work. Intrigued? Schedule a chat with me now.