How Client Feedback Supports Freelance Brand Growth

During my time on Upwork, I’ve figured out an effective workflow for me and my clients. I’m always open to change, though, as being a great service provider means evolving with the times, technology, and my industry.

One of the ways that I ensure I’m continuing to evolve in the right direction is by paying close attention to client feedback.

What is client feedback?

Client feedback is information that you’re getting directly from your customers. There are different types of customer feedback, including:

  • Direct feedback in private messages
  • Answers to email surveys and feedback forms
  • Online reviews posted publicly

Whether feedback is delivered to you privately or on a public forum, I believe it’s one of the most valuable insights any independent professional has available to them when working to grow a brand.

Why is client feedback an important business tool?

If you want to know exactly what your customers’ experience is like, you have to ask them. This is why it’s incredibly important to collect customer feedback when you’re considering evolving your services or developing new products.

When I was just starting out, client feedback gave me insights as to what clients did and didn’t like about my process—and it still does today.

That isn’t to say that I will completely change what I do based on one client’s feedback. It’s impossible to please everyone, no matter how hard you try, and sometimes the workflow that best suits me and the majority of my clients won’t work well for someone new. That’s okay.

However, if I start to see customer satisfaction trending downward over time, it can indicate that my target market has evolving needs. In this case, I may want to consider adjusting my services accordingly.

I also don’t lose sleep over a less-than-perfect review. Instead, I use Upwork’s response feature and treat it as an opportunity to showcase the high level of customer service that I offer to my clients.

Developing a customer feedback strategy

A basic customer feedback strategy has four parts:

  1. Gather customer feedback
  2. Evaluate feedback and the level of customer satisfaction
  3. Respond to customer feedback
  4. Assess any necessary follow-up actions

Upwork’s built-in customer feedback tools make it very easy to get this process started—every time you or a client close a contract, your customer will be asked to fill out some open-ended questions and provide a star rating.

When to respond to client feedback

I always respond to customer feedback, good or bad. This way, when a prospective customer visits my Upwork profile, they see that I appreciate my clients and care about results. This helps me generate new business, as potential clients want the same level of satisfaction and customer support that my existing clients enjoy.

When a client leaves me positive feedback, I respond with a quick note of thanks. This shows the client that I liked working with them and encourages customer retention.

client feedback

If I get client feedback that is average or negative, I take the time to leave a more detailed response. I use this response to highlight any problems that were out of my control, explain the results, and—if applicable—offer a solution. Receiving this response can help customers feel better about the project outcome, and it highlights my good customer service to others.

How to respond to negative customer feedback

The most important thing to remember when faced with negative feedback is to not take it personally. Whether an unhappy customer simply didn’t understand the results, something was out of your control, or you really did make a mistake, it’s not a reflection on you as a person.

Don’t respond to the feedback immediately, or emotionally. Instead, take a beat and think about it. Ask yourself if there is any truth to the feedback.

Did you make a mistake? Was the project too big for you? If so, thank the customer for their feedback and their business. Own up to any mistakes, and don’t be defensive if you were in the wrong.

If you’re confident that there isn’t truth to the negative feedback, or it was due to something out of your control (such as a client not giving you access to a necessary file or document), use your response to illustrate this.

Remain professional, explain your side of the situation, and give suggestions as to how the client can improve results in the future. This doesn’t mean you have to work with them again—it can be as simple as suggesting they wait until they have more money in their budget before pursuing an expensive ad campaign.

freelancer response

If the negative feedback was justified, learn from your mistakes and move on. It’s not the end of the world—we can all evolve as professionals. If it wasn’t justified, simply respond and know that new customers will recognize what was out of your control. Your measured responses will look professional and considerate.

Additionally, if you’re Top Rated or Top Rated Plus, you can periodically request to remove client feedback from your Upwork profile. I think it’s best to save this for situations where a client gives an unwarranted bad review without any comments or explanation for me to respond to.

How to get good client feedback

Of course, in an ideal scenario, all your client feedback would be glowing. While you can’t control that completely, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your client feedback trends in a positive direction. It all starts with your very first customer interaction.

1. Always start with an intro conversation

Don’t take on projects without having an introductory conversation with your potential client. You can do this right through Upwork Messages—either a written exchange or a Zoom call.

You want to use this intro call to share details about how you work, and to assess if you want to work with them. Part of getting good client feedback (and building a loyal customer base!) is taking on clients who are a good fit for the services you provide.

2. Lay out a realistic timeline and budget

Your customer base may not understand how long it actually takes to complete the work that you do. For example, lots of people think (or hope!) that hiring an SEO expert will get them to the first page of Google results overnight.

It’s my job to take time during the intro call to explain that SEO is actually a long-term process—but if they’re patient, they’ll get great, long-lasting results. Knowing this detail up front helps the client be comfortable with the process once we begin working together, and they’ll be satisfied customers when it’s time to leave a review.

I also make sure to explain what the budget needs are for a project—both my rates and any additional expenses they’ll need to pay, such as the cost to run paid Google ads. By making sure that they are aware of all expected costs up front, I can ensure they’re a good fit and reduce the likelihood of a project getting canceled due to budget issues.

3. Put expectations and needs in writing

Even though Upwork creates contracts for every project, I still like to follow up with a written message or document that outlines both my and my client’s expectations for a project. I always include what I need from the client in order to get the work done on schedule.

For me, this might include access to the back end of their website, Google Analytics, or Google Ads account. For you, it could be client contact lists, graphics, or website content—whatever the client has to give you in order for you to do the work.

4. Stay in touch with the client

Keeping in touch with your client throughout the duration of the project demonstrates good customer service. If the client doesn’t need to be heavily involved in each step of the process, that’s okay—even a short weekly message outlining how things are going can be the extra touch that encourages a good review when your work is done.

5. Let them know that feedback is important to you

While Upwork will prompt clients to leave feedback once a contract is closed, you can include a note in your project wrap-up message and let the client know you’d appreciate their feedback and how it helps you.

You don’t have to wait for the client to leave feedback, either! You can initiate the feedback cycle yourself by leaving them a review.

Giving feedback to clients

I like to give feedback to my clients for a few different reasons:

  1. It helps them evolve their experience as a client on Upwork. Working with independent professionals can be a learning curve for everyone, and knowing what my experience was like can help them become better clients in the future.
  2. I can let other Upwork users know if this is a good client or not. Just as prospective customers can see client feedback on my profile, other Upworkers can see my thoughts on the client’s profile.
  3. It continues to help me build my brand. Each time I leave feedback on a client’s profile, I’m creating another point at which a potential customer can discover me.

I also always think about the kind of feedback I like to receive, and give that to others in turn. I make it a point to remain honest and objective, and focus on evaluating what did and did not go well. If I have any concerns for other Upwork talent (such as a client trying to go off of the Upwork platform) I’ll highlight it.

Other ways to use client feedback to grow your brand

When you get good client feedback, look for different ways you can leverage it to continue building your brand. One tool that I think is particularly useful is the ability to share client feedback directly from Upwork to your social media pages. Try sharing positive feedback to LinkedIn or Twitter and see what happens!

You can also add portfolio items to your Upwork profile and list the related contract. This way, when a prospective client is browsing your profile, they can see the positive feedback and the results for a given project.

The only true way to find out how leveraging feedback can improve your brand is to give it a try—so log into your Upwork account and start leaving, requesting, and responding to client feedback on your projects now.

This article was submitted by and expresses the views and opinions of the independent freelancer listed as the author. They do not constitute the views or opinions of Upwork, and Upwork does not explicitly sponsor or endorse any of the views, opinions, tools or services mentioned in this article, all of which are provided as potential options according to the view of the author. Each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situations.
This article was submitted by and expresses the views and opinions of the author. They do not constitute the views or opinions of Upwork, and Upwork does not explicitly sponsor or endorse any of the views, opinions, tools or services mentioned in this article, all of which are provided as potential options according to the view of the author. Each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situations.
Article Author
Author
Melissa P.
Expert Vetted
Digital Marketing Manager
Melville, United States
Search Engine Optimization
Social Media Marketing

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