3 Powerful Methods to Get Better Client Feedback
Let’s face it. Many clients give terrible feedback during the life cycle of a project. In the end, that wastes valuable time and impairs the project’s outcome. You simply have to browse the web to stumble upon stories outlining terrible client feedback.
The good news: You can teach your clients to give better feedback. It’s actually your job to guide your client through the feedback process. Empower your clients to articulate their wishes and you will benefit from fruitful input.
Below I’ve listed 3 powerful methods I often employ to aid my clients in providing better feedback. Use them to get better client feedback!
1. Use Personas for Better Client Feedback
Get Rid of Personal Taste
The biggest mistake people make is to give you feedback based on their personal taste. It doesn’t mean that they see themselves as the center of the earth. It’s more that they tend to forget the fact that others (e.g. their customers) are different from them.
No doubt, if you want to make your client happy in the short run, just follow his or her personal taste. The downside of this approach, however, is that your campaign is likely to be a nonstarter, because you’re not addressing the preferences of the aimed target group. In other words, you’ve increased your chances of losing your client in the longer run.
A good way to make your clients put aside their personal tastes is to regularly remind them about their customers. Tell them that appealing to their customers is crucial success. Then invite them to give you challenging critiques, but ask them to state it with statistics or facts involving their target group.
Work with Personas
Use personas to help your clients empathize with their customer base. A persona is something real, something tangible. It helps a campaign or project to remain focused. Continue to introduce these personas to your client on a regular base, such as at the beginning of each feedback round.
Personas are also an excellent opportunity to give your creations more grounding. You can easily backup your concepts referring to personas. Believe me, your clients are more willing to trust in your concepts, just because they’ve already agreed on the personas.
Personas are fictional characters that represent the goals and behavior of your target group. It helps to see them as archetypes of customers. Personas work best as short descriptions that include behavior patterns, goals, skills and attitudes. In the best case they include personal details that make them more realistic and sticky.
2. Act like a Researcher and ask ‘Why?’
Make Clients Think It Through
Most clients never learned to give valuable feedback. They suggest changes without describing the problem they’re trying to solve. When it comes to audiovisuals like videos, designs or websites they just don’t know how to judge them. So they say things like “make the logo bigger” without stating why they feel the need to change something. You’ll end up blindly following your client’s feedback and suggestions of what might or might not work.
It often happens that clients think they’re being helpful when they offer precise solutions. But most of the times they don’t see it objectively and don’t realize the drawbacks. To prevent your clients from offering quick solutions try to get to the bottom of their driving forces. Your goal is to understand why they want to change something.
“Stop complaining about how your client’s feedback destroyed the result of the project. Start teaching them.”
Ask ‘Why’ Questions to Improve Client Feedback
To improve the quality of feedback you should apply the method of asking particular questions. Here’s why: When you know the root of the problem, you get the chance to actually solve it rather than executing superficial changes. It gives you the opportunity to think of your own ways and rely on your expertise. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take your client’s feedback seriously. Rather, I’m encouraging you to make more informed decisions.
So be curious and ask them “why” on a regular base. Be careful not to look belligerent or cocky. Take the role of a researcher who wants to understand the entirety of their feedback. There is no lengthy preparation required. Just apply it by asking things like: “What is important about this aspect?” “Why would your customers like that?” You can also bring up the personas and ask, “how would these personas see this problem?”
After using the “why-technique” I often experience that clients themselves start to focus on problems rather than suggesting solutions. They begin to share underlying thoughts and highlight why they want you to change things. This can be a great start for trustful client relationships
5 Whys is a question-asking technique to get to the root cause of a problem. By repeating the question ``Why?`` five times the investigator digs deeper to uncover underlying problems. Each answer forms the basis of the next “Why?” question. Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Industries, developed this technique. Sure, you won’t ask “why” 5 times in a row to your client. But you get the point. This technique is a thought-provoking impulse for client communication, isn’t it?
3. Teach Clients about the Production Process
What you want is an educated client that has a basic feeling about the production process.
It will make things a lot easier for you. Clients will have a bigger understanding of what is possible and what is hard to change later on.
So communicate the schedule at the start of your collaboration. Make deadlines transparent and brief your clients about the points of no return. Tell them about the parts that are easy to change now, as opposed to later in the creative process.
An obvious point of no return in video production is the shooting. Once you finish the shooting it’s pretty hard to make major shifts in the storyline afterwards. Closing titles, on the other hand, are easy to change throughout the entire process.
Experienced project managers tend to clarify milestones and deadlines right from the start. When doing this, make sure that everybody with decision-making power is on board. This will reduce unexpected change requests later on in the creative process.
Working with clients is all about communication. When communication fails, handling projects can become a mess.
One major obstacle in client communication is asking for feedback. As we all know, many clients face difficulties in giving helpful criticism. Empower your clients to provide better feedback by applying these 3 methods:
Better Client Feedback - The Ultimate List
- Clients tend to give you feedback based on personal taste. Use personas to make them switch perspective. Let them see through the eyes of their target group.
- Act like a scientist to uncover the causes of your client’s feedback. By asking “why” questions you can get to the root of the problem.
- Teach your clients about the production process. Explain points of no return and make your decisions comprehensible. I promise – an educated client will give you better feedback.
What are your tweaks to get more valuable client feedback? How do you nurture your clients?
I would love to hear about your methods to improve feedback quality.
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Passionate about communications and client relations. He loves to dig into behavioral economics to uncover the irrationality in our daily behavior.