Ultimate Feedback Guide: How to Decode Client Feedback to Deliver the Product They Want

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Tired of client feedback and revisions eating away your income? Whether you’re a freelance writer, designer, developer, or marketer, feedback is an unavoidable part of the job, but it doesn’t have to be a profit killer.

If you put the work in up front to understand your clients’ needs, you’ll reduce the chance for miscommunications that turn into large-scale revisions. You’ll also develop a stronger working relationship that’s beneficial to both parties. 

With a few key practices, you can decode client feedback and deliver the product they want every time.

Here’s what you need to get started:   

Focus

Freelance life means you’re often juggling multiple projects and clients at the same time; sometimes in addition to a full-time or part-time job. With that in mind, it’s important to slow down and focus when taking on a new project so you can fully absorb important details.

Overlooking a sentence (or a whole paragraph) in a project brief can result in the client coming back with extensive revisions that’ll cut deeply into your hourly wage, so listen carefully to your client and always read through instructions at least twice before you start. 

Refer back to their content brief as you’re working to catch those little details that can mean the difference between impressing your client and leaving them underwhelmed. 

Ask 

Depending on the information given upfront, you might need some additional clarity. In this case, asking for more details is always a smart move. 

Here are some follow-up questions to ask your client:

  • Can you describe your brand voice in three words? 
  • What brand or company has a similar style to what you’re looking for? 
  • What sites/brands/content/videos/companies do you not like? What don’t you like about them?
  • Is there any industry lingo you want me to use or avoid?
  • Who is your target audience and do you have any personas I can read?

Developing an inquisitive nature will not only make your life easier, it’ll show your client you care. 

Dig 

Not all clients will be great communicators. If this happens, it’ll be up to you to dig for the information you need. To give you an idea of how to handle this, here’s a scenario for you consider:

Scenario 1: 

Client: “This doesn’t feel like our brand’s style.” 

Freelancer: “Can you describe your brand’s personality or show me a site that is closer to your brand’s style?”

Scenario 2: 

Client: “I don’t like it. Can you rework this?” 

Freelancer: “Sure. Can you explain more about what you didn’t like? If I change ‘X’ and ‘X,’ will it be closer to what you envisioned for this project?”

Initially, you might think the client is asking for a complete overhaul, but if you decode their feedback with follow-up questions, you may find it’s a much quicker fix than you originally thought. Nonetheless, some choices come down to your personal style as a freelancer, and you should advocate for certain ideas when you see fit. 

Defend 

It might be easier to make revisions without explaining your reasoning, but you were hired for a reason, which mean your opinions matter.

If you feel strongly about a font choice or closing sentence, tell the client why. Of course, you should always be polite (and pick your battles), but know it is okay to defend your work when appropriate. The client will respect you for it and it bolsters your reliability as a hired hand.  

Revise

Whether you’re asked to make two changes or twenty, be respectful when communicating with your client and don’t take revisions personally. 

A happy client is a repeat client. And fewer rounds of revisions add up to increased productivity and more money in your pocket.

Even the most talented writers will be asked to make revisions. No one is perfect and no one can ever fully get into a client’s head. However, by listening carefully and digging beyond surface information you can get pretty darn close!

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