How to Improve Your Client Feedback Process


Getting client feedback can be one of the painful parts of the design projects – if you let it. When you’re able to instead dial in your process to make the feedback you receive clear and actionable, it creates happier clients and helps to fuel your business’s growth. 

In episode 7 of Designing Growth, Perry and Sam share their tips for improving your feedback process to help you avoid endlessly pushing pixels and having clients give vague instructions like “make the design pop.” 

Episode Transcript:

[Designing Growth introduction plays]

 Sam: Happy Thursday, everyone. And welcome back to designing growth, excited to be joining you again today for another episode. And before we dive into things, I wanna talk a little bit about our episode six. 

[00:00:52] During that episode, we talked about. Your process at your web design or branding agency for working at clients. But as things sometimes go with the early days of the podcast, we felt like that episode was a little bit too broad. After Perry and I got done with recording that episode, we thought, you know, how can we narrow down these episodes a little bit more to provide really actionable takeaways, things that you can run with and start implementing in your business tomorrow to improve your client process.

[00:01:24] Yes, but also other specific parts of your business. Uh, so our goal for this episode is to really distill. Part of what we talked about last week went down into, you know, a quick 15 to 20 minutes and you can take that information and run with it. 

[00:01:38] Perry: do you guys say something? I, just wanna let our audience know, like, just peel back the curtain a bit here. We finished that episode. and then we did like a debrief. We’re like, dude, why was that so hard? Like we could not get it done. We’re like, man, that, that episode kind of sucked and, and, uh, you know, hopefully, uh, you’re still sticking with us here in this next episode cause we think we’ve made some good changes for it.

[00:02:04] Sam: Perry coming in hot. I had this whole political explanation. Well rehearsed of what I was gonna say. And you just come in. No, it sucked.

[00:02:13] Perry: I, I mean, you, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s good to have both sides of the coin, right? Like, uh, I’m glad you wore the CEO hat for that. And, and it seems like we’re, we’re wearing different hats here. I’ll just be the sales hat here and just be like, yeah, no, that didn’t work.

[00:02:26] Sam: so all that aside, client feedback, let’s talk about it.

[00:02:31] Perry: there’s two kinds of feedback, right? Sam. So there there’s the ay feedback process and there’s a live feedback process. Which one do we want Chad about first here?

[00:02:39] Sam: I think we should talk about live feedback first, because that is how I see the more traditional way of getting client feedback. That was a lot of what we did at brighter vision. When we were, you know, we first started. a substantial amount of new clients. There was a real focus on live feedback calls.

[00:02:57] So let’s start there first.

[00:02:59] Perry: Maybe even before we get that though, you know, think about your clients. Every client has a different preferred method of feedback, right? Like a brighter vision, when we are like all cylinders firing and, and doing things really well. We put people into async, but there were some folks that wanted live.

[00:03:14] And so, so that might be the first lesson, right there to understand who your client is. Probably push them to async. But if, if they’re like not ays, not working for me, move into live. And so let’s talk about them in the way you improve that live feedback process. Sam, what’s one of your hottest takes on that piece?

[00:03:30] Sam: So when I’m thinking about live feedback, What I want to avoid is if I’m jumping on a zoom call or it is a phone call, or maybe even an in person meeting with the client, the things that I want to avoid are that conversation. Spiraling into a way that’s not helpful and that’s not productive. 

[00:03:48] What I want out of a feedback call are high level understandings about the client, about what they like about what they don’t like and avoid these very specific discussions about things that can be easily changed or adjusted as you go.

[00:04:02] Perry: And so coming with a, a list of questions is a, a pretty important piece in your mind when that conversation gets off of those list of questions, And it does kind of spiral into pixel pushing. How do you help get control of that conversation again?

[00:04:20] Sam: That’s a phenomenal question, Perry. That is one aspect of these live feedback calls that I think is super, super challenging, regaining that control of the discussion. So it can continue to be productive. My favorite way to go about that is to emphasize to the client. There are things that can be very quickly and easily changed and small adjustments that can be made. And let’s not focus on that. Let’s focus on the big picture because if we have the big picture, first, those smaller changes will fall into place. So it’s reassuring the client that they still have a voice, and they’ll be able to change these things, but gently saying that now is not the time to do so.

[00:05:01] Perry: That could be a good lead-in to say, Hey, I know you didn’t wanna use that tool, but for things of this nature, Using a digital tool like motion is what’s gonna really streamline this process for both of us right now. Let’s focus on these big picture questions that you have. When we had our live feedback calls at brighter vision, and we worked pretty much exclusively with therapists, we often said that we are the therapist’s therapist.

[00:05:27] Um, a lot of it is listening and letting the client share their thoughts, but in a guided way, like let’s not get off base. And if they are, that’s when you wanna pivot and be like, Hey, totally understand. You want to get the placement of this right.

[00:05:43] This isn’t really the most ideal usage of our time for this. let’s focus on the big picture side of things like the layout and the colors, and then from actual, you know, adjustments of, of locations and pixels and pushing this a bit to the right or that a bit to the left let’s use motion for that.

[00:06:01] Sam: And it’s a big part of why we’re building motions, guided feedback tools, to be able to get those in depth, sorts of analysis of a, of a wire frame of a logo design of a brand strategy document.

[00:06:14] Perry: let’s talk about that for a minute. So let’s say you’re having this call with a client in a, in a live feedback environment, or you’re doing this zoom call. they’re, you know, wanting to push the logo. What, once you get that call resolved, what you can then do is go into motion, send the file through motion and drop a sticky note on the logo and say, Hey, here’s where this logo is.

[00:06:37] Can you give me your feedback in terms of where you want this do you want it to the right? Do you want it to the left? You want further down? Help me understand. That’s. What’s so cool about the guided feedback, cuz you can prompt. The conversation. So that way it’s not getting unstructured and tangential and getting all confusing and your client can still leave you sticky notes and leave their own feedback.

[00:06:58] But you can also say, Hey, here are the questions I have for you. , here are the changes I made based on discussion. We just had, let me know what you think about change A, B and C, and those are three different sticky notes that you guide the client through.

[00:07:12] Throughout that feedback process.

[00:07:14] Sam: Another important aspect of feedback that just came to mind. As you’ve been talking about this . The only word that I can think of is justification for why you did something a certain way and going into those feedback calls. 

[00:07:27] Clients are hiring you because you are a design expert. They don’t know how to design. They don’t want to design on their own. They’re trusting you with their brand, their company, their website. And they wanna know why you did things a certain way.

[00:07:43] Lean into that expertise. Going into a feedback call, you should be prepared to tell them why you did something a certain way, especially if it’s your first time getting feedback from this client. And as the project moves forward and moves along.

[00:07:57] And as you are making changes in revisions, have justifications for those things. I think that you should have somewhere where you track these things and why you’re making changes, which is part of what we’re doing with motion. Being able to share that with the client is going to help them go from, uh, I don’t really like this, but I don’t know what I like about this.

[00:08:17] Once they hear that justification for why you did something, it. A light bulb goes off in the client’s head where they’re like, oh, this looks great. I now see why this is a certain way.

[00:08:26] Perry: So the, the biggest takeaways we’re gonna have here, right. Go into that live feedback process with a list of questions that you want to ask the client. Don’t let the client be pixel pushing throughout that live. and number three is y’all have an onboarding form. Everybody has an onboarding questionnaire. Take that onboarding questionnaire, highlight the pieces that are super important and explain why you made certain decisions the way you did based off of that onboarding questionnaire.

[00:08:56] Now you can also do that in motion. You can say, Hey, here’s. I’m gonna take these three pieces from your onboarding questionnaire, and I’m gonna highlight the pieces, the designs I made in motion. So say, Hey, you, you said you really like this color blue. Here’s why I use that color blue in your website.

[00:09:12] What are your thoughts on that? You can guide them through from the onboarding questionnaire into, Hey, here are the, the, the things you want and. Here’s how I implemented it on your website. Give me your feedback on that. But tho those are the three big takeaways on improving the live feedback process.

[00:09:28] What are your thoughts on then transitioning to improving the async feedback process? We kind of, you know, skirted around the edges of it but let’s, let’s dive a little deeper into improving the Aing feedback process beyond what we’ve already spoken about.

[00:09:39] Sam: the async feedback process, I think for many design agencies out there occurs at a couple of different spots along the way. I would call your initial onboarding of a client. If they’re filling out a questionnaire or they’re giving you their, you know, sort of brand guidelines, if you’re collecting that information.

[00:09:57] Initially, I look at that as the first point where you are getting async feedback, because they’re telling you about preferences. And if you can carry some insights about that through the entire project, it’s gonna make things a lot more effective. What I think is problematic and is really challenging for agencies is that after a client fills out that onboarding form or questionnaire, there is a lack of structure for any subsequent feedback.

[00:10:27] And it’s something that we saw a bit in a Brighter Vision where, you know, we had a really great onboarding questionnaire, but after that, it kind of broke down and I would love to hear your take, Perry. I have my own ideas. Why does that happen after a client is onboarded, why does feedback start to break down?

[00:10:43] Perry: I think the big piece is that. 

[00:10:45] Elements of the onboarding questionnaire that a client would spend so much time on, even though you implement it in the design, you’re not calling it out in the design, um, through the feedback process. And that’s, that’s a really key piece. Once we started doing that at Brighter Vision and kind of guided our designers to do that in the feedback process.

[00:11:03] And now this is all. Via a live feedback process, cuz there was no way to do this in a clean way. Cuz you know, you can’t tell a client to look at the header or look at the footer. No, very few clients understand what those elements are. Um, but once we started doing it in a live feedback way, that really helped.

[00:11:22] And again, that’s, that’s a big impetus behind our guided feedback system in, in motion where instead of saying, Hey, look at the footer and let me know about that, that, you know, Navy color I use down there and the white. you can instead just say, Hey, I’m gonna drop a pin here, assign this task to the client and say, Hey, here’s where this feedback is.

[00:11:40] I need your feedback. Look how you implemented the Navy and the footer like you wanted. Is this the right color Navy or did you have something else in mind? Um, here’s a color picker. We don’t have that yet, but here’s a color picker and choose a different color that you might wanna try. And, and I can, you know, implement those different colors.

[00:11:55] That’ll be really sick once we do have that though. What are your thoughts, Sam?

[00:11:59] Sam: What you just mentioned about connecting the clients’. Initial questionnaire or things that they provided you before the project started and tying that back when you send them the first deliverable, whether that be a logo design, a mock up a wire frame, tying that information back is critical to improving your feedback process, especially when it’s a sync.

[00:12:21] I think for me, Our first big takeaway is that make sure anything that your client sent you beforehand, that you use in future iterations of their project, make sure you call that out. They want to know that information. They took the time to fill it out. They don’t want that to just go poof out into the air and feel like they did it for nothing.

[00:12:40] Perry: Exactly and cuz if they do, they’re gonna be like, well, why do I, why would I wanna spend all this time investing in this design the way I want it to, they’re not even listening to me in the first place.  I think a second point on how to improve the AYQ feedback process is actually getting the client to use the AYQ feedback process. A lot of the tools out there that, you know, the tool we use at Brighter vision, we use a tool called a tool called BugHerd. Man, it was so tough to get our clients to use that, you know, they had to install a browser extension and then log in and accept an invitation.

[00:13:13] By the time you’re actually able to leave feedback. You’re like, oh my God, I’ve spent like 10 minutes trying to set this up where, and then, and then also seeing where the feedback goes. It all disappears into the ether. Messy, messy, messy. So. To actually get your client to use your async feedback process is absolutely critical.

[00:13:32] And you know, there’s a variety of ways you can, you can do that, but often it you’re kind of handicapped by the tool that you’re using. So when we’re building motion, one thing we really focus on is making sure that it’s dead simple to use that your client. When there’s something the client needs to do that needs to provide you feedback on or needs to upload a document or provide you with the content they need.

[00:13:59] It’s a single email with a very clear CTA or a clear call to action. It’s Hey, I need it, here is this. I need you to do that and click a button and a client can do that. Get them out of email into the application. So it’s logged clearly. And it’s engaging in the process. You need them to engage in. And then there’s just a very clear call to action for what the user needs to do without needing to log in, install a browser extension, change browsers, make sure they’re on the right browser.

[00:14:34] Just get the client to actually engage in your, a sync feedback process is half the battle. And if you do that, that’s automatically gonna improve both your life and your async feedback.

[00:14:44] Sam: those tools that help you with your Aing feedback in my mind are also critical because it helps streamline your communication and avoids you getting caught in multiple email threads where things can get missed or. Clients sending you a message, you know, whether it’s a, whether you have a slack account for them, maybe you have a base camp set up for them.

[00:15:10] We want to, with motion.io, have something that is much more specific to web and brand design agencies. We do not want to be everything to anyone.

[00:15:21] Rather, we are focused exclusively on agencies and their design clients.

[00:15:27] Perry: Yeah. And, and the problems you face, right? Like the problems you face are so unique to your business, that a tool like Basecamp. Is not gonna be able to solve all of them effectively, uh, or a tool like Asana. And so that’s, I mean, that’s the, the, the passion and the goal behind what we’re building here is to make sure that we are building the best darn tool out there for web designers and brand designers and creatives.

[00:15:56] So that way you have a one stop shop. Feedback, to, collaboration, to project management, to client requests and content collection, all in one clean UX. That’s what motion is here for.

[00:16:10] Sam: So our first point on how to improve your asynchronous feedback process during your onboarding process, make sure you call that stuff out later. Two, if you’re using a client portal and a client dashboard, make sure it is easy to use. Make sure it’s something that doesn’t require you schedule a separate call just to show a client how to use it, because if they are able to use it in a simple way, it’s going to make them happier.

[00:16:33] It’s gonna make you happier. Cuz the work gets done faster going to ultimately help you grow your business by collecting that client feedback. So those two key points aside, are there any other takeaways that you think are important for asynchronous feedback process? Things that somebody running a web design or brand agency could go out there tomorrow and start implementing to help improve?

[00:16:57] Uh, not only the time it takes to gather feedback, but the time it takes to I.

[00:17:02] Perry: the last point being the time it takes to implement it, is super key. 

[00:17:08] I keep getting brought back to the tools that are out there and nothing makes this easy and that, that’s why we’re building motion, right. Is because we’re gonna make it easy for you and for your clients. 

[00:17:22] You know, it’s totally free. Uh, especially for these first few months, we’re not charging anybody, anything come sign up for the launch list. Tell us about the problems you are facing so that we can better understand them and build the tool that’s going to make your lives so much better. 

[00:17:39] Once we get this thing launched, uh, which is really, you know, a few weeks away at this point, once this episode gets published. 

[00:17:44] So come check us out, help us, help you build the best product out there to solve your needs.

[00:17:50] Sam: I love it. Anything else to add for today’s episode?

[00:17:53] Perry: Should we talk about food?

[00:17:54] Sam: Let’s talk about food. I was hoping you were gonna say that.

[00:17:57] Perry: all right, Sam, what’s the best thing you cooked or ate this week?

[00:18:01] Sam: So, because this weekend was a long weekend, I was able to have the opportunity to. Make something that requires, uh, about 32 hours to make, is pickle, blind, fried chicken.

[00:18:18] Perry: All right. I need the recipe right after this, man. You gotta slack that over to me.

[00:18:25] Sam: It is really good, cuz normally I like to cook something complicated every Sunday is the way I describe it to my wife. Uh, and this is a recipe that I can’t really cook on a Sunday because you have to Bri the chicken for 24 hours. In a bunch of pickle juice, and then it goes into a VA of buttermilk for another four.

[00:18:45] So by the time you have this chicken ready to actually hit the deep fryer, you know, you are looking at, you know, a substantial time investment. So I made this on Monday or Friday. It was phenomenal. The saltiness acidity that it gets from the pickles is out of this. 

[00:19:08] Perry: gotta ask a clarifying question. Is this a homemade co Brian?

[00:19:11] Sam: Yes, this is a homemade pickle, Brian, because Aaron made pickles, uh, about a month ago and we had all of this pickle juice sitting around, so it was perfect. 

[00:19:20] I got so much flack for my brothers. The last time I made this recipe, cuz they’re like, well, why don’t you make your own pickle juice?

[00:19:25] I was like, I didn’t have time to make my own pickles. And then, you know, ferment them. And then also Brian, this chicken for 24 hours.

[00:19:36] Perry: oh, man, that, that is like, so classic millennial, gen Z, uh, foodie kind of problem there. Love it. We gotta talk about Brian another date, uh, because man, I, I love Brian making my own pickles as well, but that’s a whole other whole other episode or whole other food discussion. Um, so the best thing I made this week, right this week, I’m gonna take the exact op approaches you, and I’m gonna go for something super short.

[00:20:02] So. Uh, we were up in the mountains, uh, over the weekend, got up there at like 3 30, 4 o’clock and needed to run to the grocery store, pick things up to cook some dinner. And, uh, I made a, it took me, took me 25 minutes in total, but it legit could have taken more like, you know, 18 to 20, if I, if I timed things better, uh, it was just, it was so simple.

[00:20:26] It was just a, you know, a turmeric black pepper and flour. Uh, Uh, I guess you call it, uh, rub that I let some boneless skinless chicken thighs sit in, like a light sea on them or a hard sea, I guess, on them. Um, and then chopped up some asparagus, like, you know, nice, nice angles, sauteed it all together.

[00:20:50] Like honey rice vinegar, um, you know, heavy black pepper, uh, sauce on top. Let it reduce down, and have some rice on the side. Whew. It was phenomenal. You know, it’s good when, like the entire, every single one of my family members, both my, my nine year old boy, my, my almost seven year old boy and my wife were just gobbling it down.

[00:21:12] Um, and so it, it, it was great, uh, and super simple and easy to cook.

[00:21:18] Sam: Salt fat acid heat, man, I

[00:21:20] Perry: Perfect.

[00:21:21] Sam: a sauce is so. These days it’s like, it just transforms your cooking. And it was something that took me a long time to figure out that a little bit of acid in something goes a long way.

[00:21:34] Perry: gosh. So I put some lemon juice or lime juice in at the end. Oh, always God gets some acidity and it’s so needed. brings the flavors out of everything, right? Like. Ah, I love acid. let’s edit that out. 

[00:21:48] Sam: you love acid in food.

[00:21:51] Perry: I love as in and food. Thank you. 

[00:21:54] Sam: I was watching an episode of Top chef and, uh, Tom Collicchio famous chef, you know, one of the judges, the cook presents the dish they’re serving. He said, uh, this dish is kind of like a grateful dead show. It’d be a lot better with a little acid

[00:22:07] Perry: All right. Well, I don’t know how much we’re editing out is maybe we keep this whole thing in, but I, I think that’s a good, good point for us to, to end the episode here.

[00:22:16] Sam: Thank you so much, everybody for tuning in. As we had mentioned during the episode, we are building this platform and this product motion.io for you, web and brand designers out there to help improve your client process from initial proposal to final approvals of their work and help you ultimately supercharge your agency’s growth.

[00:22:37] We would love to learn. About your process and find what parts of your client projects you struggle with. So we can build in those features and that functionality to make motion.io, the best product it can possibly be to get connected with us and participate in giving us feedback on motion dot iOS development sign up for our launch list, which you can do by going to motion.io/lunch. Once again, that is motion.io/lunch. And until then we release every Thursday on apple, Spotify, and wherever else you get your podcast. If you don’t mind, if you’re liking the content of these episodes, feel free to go and leave us a five star review.

[00:23:15] We’d really appreciate it until next Thursday, everybody.

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