Jan 16, 2019
When you’ve handed over your project to a client, you wait with anticipation in your coworking space for their reaction. While you will have worked tirelessly to provide a quality and to-the-brief piece of work, the customer’s critique can go one of two ways: they either approve it, or they return with negative feedback. No matter how delicately or constructive they articulate it, negative feedback can feel brutal and in some cases, personal.
Feedback, both positive and negative, is inevitable, and how you use it is crucial to your career progression. Acknowledging feedback is essential and shows that you are taking on board the client’s comments, but you also need to incorporate it into future projects to leverage them to your advantage. So, when you get an inkling that there is some negative feedback coming your way, don’t storm out of your shared office space or become defensive; utilise these five approaches…
Recognise that there is good intention
Clients are giving you feedback so that you can improve your work and ensure they are 100% happy with the result. They have not given you negative feedback to insult you personally, they justwant the work to match their expectations and to meet their perception of your skills and abilities.
It is far better thatthey raise issues with you directly and give you the opportunity to amend the project rather than say nothing and never use you again, or worse, tell other people that you did a below par job for them. It can take years to develop a good business reputation, and yet it can be damaged swiftly.
Listen to the client
Listen carefully to the client and understand the vision they have in their own mind.
‘I really like XYZ, but…’, It is a natural inclination to stop listening after the ‘but’; however, the information that the client is giving you after the ‘but’ is the most valuable part of the sentence. Without listening to the specifics, you can’t use the feedback constructively. Remain engaged in the conversation and attentively listen to what they are saying. They are giving you clear pointers on how to improve your work.
Feedback is not the opportunity for the clientto deliver a monologue of ways that your work is not up to their expected standard. Yes, you need to listen to what is being said, but you also need to seek clarification on the points that they raise. A healthy discussion will help to clarify the situation and give you the guidance and direction onhow to provide a solution to the issues raised.
Always summarise the feedback
To rectify any situation, you need to be clear about what your client is telling you. You need to ensure that you understand the details of the criticism which can become diluted in conversation. So, to avoid any future misunderstandings, summarise what has been saidso that you can both agree on what can be improved on.
Don’t be afraid to suggest another solution if appropriate
It is essential to leave egos outside of the office, but don’t be afraid to suggest an alternative option. If you have other ideas then feel free to put them forward, giving clear reasons why they could work. The client may consider it and will be pleased you are demonstrating the expert knowledge they hired you for without being difficult or stubborn. But don’t get upset or frustrated if they want to proceed with their own ideas, it is their business after all.
When a client comes back to you with feedback, embrace it! It can make you feel awkward and frustrated, but you need to deal with it professionally. Always thank your client for raising the issues as they have given you a valuable opportunity to rectify the problem so that you can implement the changes with your reputation intact.