Whether you work on your own as a consultant, for a PR agency or in-house, there will be times in your work, when you need feedback from your client. Most of the times the feedback will be useful and will help you both go forward in the work you do for them and in your relationship. However, there will be times and clients, who no matter what you do, they won’t give you feedback. You will hear they are unhappy, mainly from others, but they won’t tell it straight to your face.
Well, that’s a big mystery, at least for me.
During my professional career, I have met all kinds of so-called leaders, from the one posing as the trusting guy to the micro-manager.
Some were posing as over-trusting, leaving all the decisions in your hands (even if it was their job), the others wanted to be involved and have a say in every freaking detail, even if they didn’t have a clue, nor the expertise
As a PR professional, you need to know how to navigate all the waters you encounter.
Some Clients Just Don’t Give Feedback
Yet, there are some clients who simply will refuse to tell you straight why they are unhappy with your work, or why they want you to change things and how they would like those changes to take place.
You will hear, however, that they don’t like this or that, that you should change it, without giving you a clue about what they think about or how they would like things changed, and more importantly why.
As much as you’d like to have a say as a client in a project, when you hire an expert to help you, you need to let them do their jobs. If there is something you don’t like, you talk to them, give specific details about what you don’t like and how you envision a certain thing or process.
You don’t hide into your office, upset that they didn’t do the work as you wanted. No one can read your mind (at least not yet), so don’t expect your PR company, or your consultant to know what you think about. It’s not their job.
You hired them for their expertise, and that’s what they’ll do.
You see, when you hire an expert, they analyze the present situation, what you want to obtain, and propose a strategy. Once you approve the strategy, they get to work, and don’t waste time on petting you if you are upset or had a bad day.
They’ll brief you on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, based on how you previously agreed and the importance and urgency of the project.
If you feel like you need more information than that, tell them. But you need to be specific on what you expect.
By the way, micro-managing a consultant is the worst thing you can do. They are not your employees (that’s why they work for themselves or in agencies), they expect you to be opened with them, because they are focused on results.
They won’t come to you every morning to ask you how you feel or how you slept, but they will get you results for the projects you hired them to do. That is if you let them do their jobs, and you don’t change your requests every five minutes.
So, instead of expecting your consultants to come to you, name a project manager in your company and step aside.
He or she will be working side by side in the trenches with your agency or consultant and will come to you with status reports.
You have to trust your employees to do their job, as well as the experts you hired. If you don’t trust them, why did you hire them in the first place?
How to Get Feedback From Your Client
- Ask for feedback in real time. If you want insights on a particular task or project you manage for your client, don’t postpone it until you have more things to talk to them about. Just reach out and have an informal conversation about it.
- Be specific. Asking your client if he or she is happy with your work in general, is a bad start. Ask specific questions such as “How did that go from your perspective”. You will get them to focus, think hard and give you a useful answer.
- Ask for examples. When people want to get rid of you, they will give you a generic answer. Don’t settle for that, ask them to be more specific and give you examples. That way you will have a better understanding of what they’re looking for.
That said, there will be times when you won’t be able to get hold of your client for various reasons.
That’s when you have to stop and think about how you want this relationship to go forward.
Remember a relationship involves two parties. So if you’re client isn’t bringing its share into it, you have to think about what you want to do going forward, how you see the relationship, your expectations and make a decision as hard it might be.
Your turn now: How do you get feedback from a non-chatty client? Comment below.
Corina Manea is a PR professional, social media strategist, founder of NutsPR and client service manager for Arment Dietrich and SpinSucks. This article was republished with permission from NutsPR. Connect with Corina on Twitter.