Clients are a varied bunch. Some of them are easy, and approve your work with minimal changes. Some of them, though, change their minds constantly, change the project constantly, and make you go through round after round of revisions. Let’s talk about how to deal with that second group, shall we? Read on…
Today’s question comes from Alton C., who asks, “I have a client that I’ve been working with for about a month. I’m happy to have this client, of course, but it seems like something isn’t working in our relationship. We’ll have the project nailed down, then he’ll change his mind when I’m halfway done. Or, on the last one, after I was already done. Then he’ll want to add things that weren’t even in the original request. How do I deal with that?”
Let’s start out this discussion by managing expectations: It’s very rare that a client is going to approve your work without any changes at all. You’d have to be a mind-reader for that to happen: You can do your best work, but you can’t know what’s in your client’s mind.
However, you know you’ve got a problem when you’re going through round after round after round of revisions. You’re either not delivering what your client wants, or your client isn’t sure what he wants. Let’s talk about how to deal with both of them.
The first and best way to avoid this problem from the outset is to make sure you have a creative brief for the project. This helps your client organize what they want the project to be, it helps to make sure you both understand and agree on the key points of the project, and it defines the scope of the project.
When you both go into a project with a clear understanding of a project and what it entails, there’s much less chance of landing in multi-revision purgatory. Also, if your client asks you to add in work that wasn’t part of the original project, you can point back to the creative brief to remind them that the new request is out-of-scope and will require another project cost estimate.
(But you’ll say nicer it than that, of course.)
If you’re still experiencing lots of rounds of feedback, you need to examine the feedback you’re getting. Sometimes the problem can be that your client simply doesn’t know how to give good feedback.
As creatives, we know that the best kind of feedback is to tell us what’s not working and why—and then let us come up with a better solution. Some clients don’t understand that, and think it’s their job to offer a solution if they’re going to offer feedback.
In this case, it’s a matter of making your client feel comfortable giving you feedback and letting you come up with a solution.
Other clients may simply feel uncomfortable giving feedback at all, and may give only half responses or respond with, “Well, I don’t know…” Both of which, of course, aren’t at all useful!
You may find it helpful to emphasize that you “look forward to any and all feedback” and that you’re “happy to make any edits or changes.” This can help a client feel comfortable with asking for what they want.
No matter the kind of feedback, it’s crucial that you always fully understand the feedback and the thinking behind it. Don’t be afraid to ask your client plenty of questions and really dig into what they’re asking for.
After all, if you don’t understand the feedback, you won’t be able to execute on it well…and you’ll end up in round after round of revisions.
Your turn! Have you had a project that turned into multi-round purgatory? What happened? Let us know in the comments below!