Client feedback: The importance of understanding the "why"

Monday, October 12, 2015

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Getting and responding to client feedback is one of the most important – and difficult – parts of being an account executive. All too often, clients today send feedback in email, as a list of prescriptive changes that the designers and writers should make. It’s tempting to simply forward (or if you’re really feeling productive, put into a project update) this list. But doing so undermines one of the best ways to get better at your job: take the opportunity to find out why.

First, understanding “why” fosters a better relationship with your creatives. Nobody who has spend hours (or days or weeks) working on a project wants to get a simple list of prescriptive changes for feedback. Instead, knowing why changes are requested helps to engage the minds who created the work in finding smart solutions. This not only results in better working relationships and happier creative teams, but also makes the work better, more complete and more effective.

Asking “why” also results in a better relationship with clients. By understanding the nature of feedback, you can start to anticipate client perspectives and improve the work before they see it. The increased knowledge allows you to bring more strategic and effective work to the table, improving client satisfaction. It also helps clients respect you and the team more, increasing the value of the relationship over time.

Finally, asking “why” makes you better at your job. Getting feedback is not an easy task. (You can find a few rules and guidelines I found useful here.) Yet, taking the time to do so results in an increase in confidence, clearer understanding of the problem and easier articulation of opinion. These skills make you a more effective leader and also a more valuable employee.

What are some of the tips you use to get to the heart of feedback? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter via @IntrinzicSays.