Why Early Client Feedback is Necessary?

When you set on for a journey, you are not always aware of what exact path you need to take. But how wisely you proceed in your journey is what causes the difference. If you are vigilant enough and decide logically whether to go left, right or straight for every turn you come across; you can easily avoid deep U-turns. Taking that surprise U-turn might leave you drained. Possibly you are out of resources, or maybe still at the same place where you started(even after working hard day and night)…

Can you feel the analogy? Can you resonate with me?

As a project manager, of course, you can. Your every project has its own challenges and there is no standard path that fits all. Then how to overcome the pitfalls and sharp u-turns?

The simplistic answer to that would be: Ask for client feedback regularly.

Merely seeking feedback won’t aid you much. Quick and early feedback remains the key. The late you get to know about your mistakes, costlier they get. It’s not only about the wasted efforts and time. But it’s more about putting yourself in the right shoes and heading in the appropriate direction, right from the beginning.

Let’s consider an example to make it more clear. Consider a scenario where you got your dress stained(clearly visible) while having your breakfast and you have no idea about it. Now tell me, when would you like to know about it? Before leaving your house, Before getting into the office or before the first client/internal meeting or anytime.

Most likely, the answer would be ASAP. Same is the case with client feedback.“Client’s feedback is not limited to design. It rolls in every time, whether it’s the contract, timelines, process workflow, communication channels or deliverables.”and each delayed input from the client has the potential to push the project deadline.

Early client feedback helps you to

  • Proceed in the right direction from the onset.
  • Resolve issues when they are still affordable.
  • Foster an environment of direct communication between you and your client.
  • Keep everyone focussed and on the same page.
  • Stick to the initial plan and schedule(timelines).

What to do?

Iterate

Getting feedback is not a one-time thing. It needs to be repeated over and over again. Get feedback from clients; quickly analyze the feedback and incorporate it and then ask the clients for feedback again. Ideally, this cycle should be repeated until both parties get satisfied. But you can’t let it go forever. Neither you nor your client would prefer that. Hence, understanding the root cause behind client feedback is equally important.

Know your break-points in advance.

No doubt ‘A stitch in time saves you nine.’But for that, you need to know when to stitch. For this, you need to know your project breakpoints well in advance and maintain a watch for them. So while planning for your project, lay out the broad phases and divide each phase in short sprints and ask for client feedback during each sprint.

Over-Communicate

Asking for feedback is important but enabling your clients to know what you are doing with their feedback is all the more important. As this encourages clients to provide genuine feedback and makes things transparent. Therefore keep your messaging consistent and regularly update clients. Incorporating a pleasant tone and speaking in the client’s language makes it easy for clients to decipher what you intend to say. Talk about how changes would affect the goals and scope of the project, how it would affect the end users, etc.

The way that you communicate with your clients can determine whether those relationships are long-lasting or short-lived. So be intentional about your communication.

Choose the right feedback Channel.

In most of the cases, genuine efforts are made to get maximum feedback at the earliest and incorporate it. But inappropriate communication channels increase the complexities manifold thus screwing all the efforts. Like if for getting feedback for website design you are using emails, then most of the time you are visual to text narration and text to visual analysis. This is both complex and time-consuming, rather if you use a visual feedback tool like zipBoard in such a scenario then it would be easy for the reviewer to mark issues and for you to view them quickly; leaving no room for ambiguity or guesswork.

Conclusion

Whatever channel and process you follow, obtaining the right feedback at the right time is what matters. Your choices might be influenced by the type of project you are handling, type of client you are dealing with, available resources, budget, timelines, etc. but the end goal is the same.

‘Delivering something that end users can use and understand’. And getting feedback from the right set of people at the earliest, keeps you directed to your end goal.

Author’s Bio

Ruchi Goyal is a digital marketer with an interest in the user-focused web development and design. To read more of her articles, find her on Medium.

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