You spend weeks writing your client’s site. And it pays off. Your messaging is dead on. Your copy is fresh, clear, and active. Deliriously tired but satisfied, you email the document to your client.
Two days later you get the document back. You open it.
MAMA SAY WHAAAATTTTT?!
1. Jargon-y feedback.
Your client: “I’d like the copy to be more delightful.”
You: “Sure! No problem! I’ll make it more delightful!”
Wrong move, buddy.
Do yourself and your client a big favor and make it very clear she needs to provide feedback now (remember, do so nicely!) or forever hold her peace.
Say something like, “I’m so tickled pink you went through ALL the content and you don’t haveANYrevisions. I’ll go ahead and send you the invoice and close out your project. It was great working with you!”
Tip: Include one or two questions using the comments feature in your document when you send it to the client. That way, if she gives you the ‘ol, “Looks great!” you can respond by asking if she had any further thoughts about your questions.
If she has no idea what you’re talking about, or if she responds with, “Oh, right. We’re going to have to change that,” you know she didn’t look it over thoroughly. Proceed with caution!
Clearly, you need to clarify what your client wants.
But, for the sake of your working relationship, you also need to be careful not to put her on the defensive or make her feel foolish. There are many ways to proceed. For instance, you could say …
“Earlier you said I shouldn’t call you ‘managers.’ But throughout the document you inserted the word ‘managers.’ What exactly would you like me to do?”
There’s nothing wrong with that approach. I guess. But doesn’t this just seem friendlier …
“Hey! Thanks for the feedback. I had one quick question regarding the word ‘managers.’ I see you’ve added it in a few places—is it okay to use that term now? Thanks!”
See? Nicer. Generally, clients like it when you’re nice to them.
4. Nonsensical feedback.
Maybe she’s high on coffee. Or she prefers expressing thoughts verbally. Or maybe she’s been up all night watching Lethal Weapon and its sequels. Whatever the reason, sometimes your client will give feedback that, well, makes absolutely no sense.
“Could you please add another future verb to this entire beginning of copy paragraph? Thanks!”
“I talked to Janice and she said Tom’s player copy doesn’t need any more action-oriented dropdowns (except maybe for twice?). Thanks!!”
“Legal review. Stakeholders. Danny Glover. Thanks!!!”
If you have no clue in sweet heaven what she’s talking about (it does happen), schedule an in-person interview with her—over the phone works, too—so you can walk through her, um, “points.”
Start by reading a couple of her comments back to her. Hopefully, she’ll stop you after a couple minutes and say, “Geez. I wasn’t making any sense! I meant to say blah, blah, blah.” Or whatever. If she doesn’t, hopefully you’ll be able to glean some insight into her state of mind through verbal cues.
Finally, a request.
It’s easy to roll your eyes when a client gives you slick, vague, contradictory, nonsensical feedback. But you know what? She’s likely juggling a billion things, from wireframes to babies to Lethal Weapon DVDs. Your copy is just one of them. Cut her some slack. And remember, she’s not a writer. If she were, she wouldn’t need you.