The Way We Work
June 25, 2013 by Guest Blogger

As any online worker will tell you, there’s something we all want more of: 5-star feedback ratings. This is particularly true for freelancers who are somewhat new to online work. As I’ve seen from personal experience, a stellar feedback score can rapidly boost your visibility to prospective clients and significantly accelerate your earning potential. Simply put, the Upwork feedback score is arguably an oDesker’s most valuable asset.

So if feedback is indeed so important, how can you get more of it? What specific actions must you take as a freelancer? What should you do to avoid bad feedback? Here are some of my favorite feedback best practices.

Why Does Your Upwork Feedback Score Matter?

Having hired many online workers myself, I can tell you that clients almost always factor an applicant’s feedback score into the evaluation process. Some clients may even filter you out of their searches if your feedback score doesn’t meet their criteria.

Based strictly on your feedback score, are you portraying a positive image to prospective oDesk clients? If you answered no, it’s time to be more proactive in managing your score.

What Can I Do To Get More 5-Star Feedback?

There are obviously many things that contribute to building a “good” feedback score. However, I believe two factors have the greatest impact: integrity and reliability. If you’re always reliable and exhibit solid character, clients will typically reward you with great feedback. Let’s take a closer look at how to exhibit these characteristics throughout the lifecycle of an oDesk contract.

Pre-Contract Tips

You’re always making an impression — even before you win a contract. To lay the groundwork with a new client, I typically do the following:

  • Research the client before an interview. A simple web search will likely turn up plenty of helpful resources to prepare you for your discussion.
  • Be on time for the interview. Being late for your interview sets off warning bells for most clients, regardless of your excuse.
  • Act like you care (and mean it of course). Sound energetic and engaged during the call. This is particularly important for phone interviews, as your only form of expression is your voice.
  • Send a follow-up thank you email. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; just the act of following up will help you stand out and conveys attention to detail.

Tips for During the Contract

Once you’ve been awarded the contract, it’s really your time to shine. Here are some considerations to always keep in mind.

  • Refer to “our” goals. If you want to be part of the prospect’s team, sound like it! From the moment I get started with a new client, I immediately begin referring to what “we can do” and what “our goals” might be. This reinforces your commitment to the client’s needs.
  • Insist on recurring client meetings. The importance of being proactive in your communication with the client can’t be understated. In fact, I dedicate an entire section of my book to discussing this very topic. Here’s an excerpt:

“A ‘normal’ job is much more conducive to facilitating communication than remote work. If a manager needs to speak to one of his teammates, he can easily walk over to the employee’s desk and discuss the topic face to face. In a remote setting, it becomes a bit more challenging. The natural tendency is to let communication fade over time, thus creating a divide between the goals of the manager and the worker. Therefore, I feel it is crucial that you proactively schedule recurring meetings with your clients.” – Executive in Sweatpants, Chapter 8

  • Don’t let your quality slip. Just because you take on a new client does not justify any reductions in quality for existing clients. If you’re getting too overwhelmed with client work, it might be time to reprioritize. You can try this free hour tracking and planning guide I’ve developed to keep all my projects straight.
  • Don’t “hide.” In a virtual work environment, it is sometimes easier to hide from problems than in a normal work setting. Don’t run away from problems — run toward them and get to the root cause. This simple practice can go a long way when it comes to client trust.

Post-Contract Tips

Just because the contract is about to end, it doesn’t mean your work is done. In fact, the following steps might be the most important things you can do to get positive feedback.

  • Ask for 5-star feedback (if you deserve it). I always ask for 5-star feedback if it is deserved. You will be surprised at how well this actually works.
  • Leave thoughtful feedback for the client. If the client treated me fairly, I typically reciprocate with a nice review. I’ve been fortunate enough to have many great clients on oDesk. Leaving a nice review certainly doesn’t hurt your chances of getting re-hired again in the future.

Take the First Step to a Better Upwork Reputation

It’s never too late to polish up your Upwork feedback score. Even if a few of your past contracts have turned into bad feedback, you can still learn from your mistakes and strive for better future results. With a little hard work, your score will begin to improve, leading to more opportunities on oDesk. Just never give up.

Feel free to share your feedback-building tips by commenting below.

matt keenerMatt Keener is President of Keener Marketing Solutions, LLC and is also the author of the book, Executive in Sweatpants: A Handbook for Launching Your Work from Home Career. The book has reached #1 on several Amazon bestseller lists. Visit his blog for helpful tips on managing online workers, growing virtual teams, and more, and follow Matt on Twitter @ExecInSweats.