How Is Client Feedback Essential to the Project Management Process?
Project management might feel like an internal affair, but it’s really all about the client. Client feedback should be encouraged at every stage of the process to enable your teams to deliver the best projects.
Here, we’ll take a deep dive into the role of client feedback in successful projects. We’ll explore why feedback is so important, discuss how to respond to negative feedback, and provide some best practice tips to help you collaborate more effectively with your clients.
Why is Client Feedback so Important During a Project?
Client feedback is a rare resource in the business world. Not only does it cost nothing, it also provides direction and motivation for your team. Beyond that, client feedback gives your business a tried and tested route towards continuous improvement. All you have to do is to create a feedback loop, and you immediately have a simple way to become a better business.
The most common reason that some organizations and creative agencies don’t want feedback from their clients is pretty simple: they’re scared stiff at the prospect of hearing “We don’t like it” or “It doesn’t meet the brief.”
That fear is totally understandable. It can feel like a huge setback, leaving creatives with little choice but to redo work that they’ve already done. However, there is a way to shield yourself from such a setback, though it might seem like a counterintuitive solution: seek more feedback.
The trick is to keep clients in the loop right from the start of the project, and ask for feedback at every stage. That means making them feel involved from ideation and planning through to wireframing, prototyping, and development. By doing this, you’ll ensure that any issues that do need to be addressed are small tweaks, rather than wholesale changes.
Of course, if you’re going to ask clients for regular feedback, then they will also need to be willing to provide it. Explaining the importance of feedback to them from the start and the benefits it will bring will help get them on board.
Asking for regular feedback will:
- Save your clients’ time and money – You’ll be able to quickly solve small problems as and when they come up, instead of spending hours making major changes.
- Reduce the risk of deadline revisions – Making smaller changes as they arise will keep projects on schedule and reduce the risk of last-minute overhauls.
- Prioritize tasks and understand the features – The more you talk to your client, the better understanding you’ll have of which features are important to them and why. You’ll then be able to prioritize your tasks and resources accordingly.
- Set practical expectations on both sides – With greater feedback comes a better understanding of limitations and more realistic expectations.
How to Collaborate on a Project With Clients
Collaborating on a project is a fine line between improving your dialogue with clients and not getting them so involved in the process that you start getting bogged down. Similarly, from the client’s point of view, they’ll have hundreds of other things to do, so they won’t want to be consulted about every little detail.
With that in mind, what steps can you take to collaborate with your clients more effectively?
- Invite clients to use your project management software – Scoro’s marketing agency management software lets you add clients to your project dashboard and control what they see. Clients will be able to access a general view of the project and keep track of different tasks without seeing how all the nuts and bolts work
- Make communication easy – To encourage client communication, make it quick and easy for them to contact you. Designate someone in the team as a dedicated point of contact, give them several ways to reach you, and be quick and consistent in replying. That will help to build trust and break down any barriers that could hinder workflow.
- Set milestones and keep them – There’s no better way to keep a client engaged in a project than by showing them that progress is being made. Setting project milestones, keeping to the timelines, and asking for feedback when appropriate can be a very effective way to collaborate.
- Include task owners in client communication – The team members who are responsible for each task should be included in all relevant client exchanges. These individuals will be best placed to interpret any ensuing needs and demands, which will then improve the clarity of communication.
- Share progress reports and relevant files with clients – Within reason, the more information you share with your clients, the better the collaboration will be. Sharing weekly or monthly progress reports will keep everyone up to date, while sending relevant files will make them feel more like project owners and encourage the participation you’ll need from them.
- Track time for client billing – If, like many creative agencies, you bill by the hour, invoicing can be a contentious issue. If you don’t provide enough information, clients can feel like they’re being overcharged.Issues like these can be resolved by the time tracking features that Scoro offers. This ensures complete transparency by tracking actual and billable time spent on a project and transferring those hours to an invoice. You can then provide your clients with the reassurance that they’re only being charged for work that’s actually been done.
Responding Constructively to Client Feedback
There’s no point asking a client for feedback if you’re not going to actually use the information you’re given. So many businesses are afraid of client feedback because they don’t want to invite criticism. However, constructive criticism can be an extremely powerful tool for your business, helping you to improve the way you work and become a better agency.
No matter how experienced you are, it can still be jolting when you receive a phone call or open an email from a client with a negative response to your work. It can be even worse if you think the project went well and you’re happy with what you delivered.
However, despite the disappointed feeling you’re likely to be left with, you must be able to take an unbiased view in the wake of negative feedback, respond professionally, and act on it accordingly.
So, how can you turn negative feedback into a positive for your business?
- Take your time – The last thing you want to do is to respond to feedback immediately and fire off an email in anger. Instead, take the time to read the message carefully and try to see the situation from their point of view. You should set some time aside with your team to discuss and digest the feedback before you form a response.
- Ask for clarification if you need it – If there’s any doubt about what the client is unhappy with, it’s worth reiterating what you think they’ve said in your own words. Every client is unique and will have different styles of communication and expectations so it’s important to identify exactly what the issue is so you can make sure it doesn’t happen again.
- Say thank you – You may not feel like it initially, but accepting constructive criticism with good grace is a sign of a professional and trustworthy agency. Saying a simple “thank you” for the feedback does not necessarily mean that you agree with everything your client has said. However, it will leave them feeling valued, heard, and understood, and increases the likelihood that you’ll work with them again.
- Craft a thoughtful response – Once you’ve given yourself and your team the opportunity to consider and digest the feedback, it’s time to write your response. This should be sent within 24 hours of receiving the feedback and include details of the changes that you will make to produce an end result that the client is happy with.
- Turn client feedback into actionable tasks – Once you’ve processed the feedback and know what needs to be done, turn it into a series of actionable tasks and assign them to a team member. Give each task a deadline, priority, and status, and make that person accountable for those tasks. You should also ask for regular updates so you can be sure everything will be completed on time.
- Know when it’s time to cut ties – We’ve established that the ability to receive client feedback and respond constructively is important for any business. However, it’s equally important to be able to recognize when negative comments are less well-intentioned. It’s certainly not unknown for clients to respond negatively to great work, simply in the hope of a discount.If a client keeps giving consistently negative feedback despite continuing to work with or uses an inappropriate tone or language, then it’s time to reevaluate your relationship with them.
Collaboration Made Easy With Scoro
Communication and collaboration are the basis of a good customer relationship, so you must have a simple way to stay on the same page. With Scoro, your clients can be given full oversight of their projects right there on the dashboard. They can easily add comments and reply to threads, review design mock-ups, and provide feedback at every stage of the process.
Sign up for a free trial today to see how Scoro can help you manage your business with a single piece of software.