Clients have every right to be part of a comprehensive feedback process (they are the ones signing the check, after all), but engaging them fully can actually improve the work you do together.
Here are four things you can do in the review process that will have your client working with you, not against you.
1. Your brief is not detailed enough from the beginning
Download StudioBinder's free creative brief template.
Spend the necessary time to fine-tune the brief and storyboard with your client, so you are both 100% clear on what a successful project will look like. You also need to agree on what it will not be. This is an important distinction, and if the brief is well-planned, you can use it as a yardstick in the review phase.
If the project starts to veer toward something beyond the scope of what you hashed out earlier, you can politely steer them back on brief. The issue with a fuzzy brief is that the review process will only ever be fuzzy too because there is no defined goal. The review will revert to personal preference, comparing your work to other work and picking up on fine details that don’t matter until later in the process.
2. You aren't layering reviews
The biggest, most inefficient mistake you can make is sending work out for review without stipulating exactly what is up for review. If you’re sending through a video for review, make it super clear to your reviewers that you’re only looking for feedback on story and timing, lest you receive a detailed email listing all the color grading and graphics changes your client wants to make. This wastes everyone’s time, your client will lose trust in your work, and the final video will suffer.
Also ensure that you outline not only exactly what will be presented at each review stage, but who from each side (client and agency) should be involved with each stage of client feedback so there’s zero potential for double-ups or time wasting.
Once there’s an approval on the review layer at hand, say structure, move on to the next layer, like colour and music, or legal compliance and product accuracy. By the end of the review process, every facet of the video will have been approved at each layer by the correct approver, which means everyone is on the same page and happy with the final delivered video.
3. You're limiting their ability to give client feedback
We need to make it as easy as possible for our clients to tell us what they really think, so that together the video can rise to the next level. Don’t discount the client feedback, especially when it is rooted in an emotion or feelings. It’s good that they are feeling something, videos should evoke emotion! If they say they don’t like something, there is always a rational behind it — ask your client to give an example of what they are aiming for. This will help you make your next edit! This is also the perfect time to work on your relationship with your client. The more they feel engaged with you, the more they will want to work with you. This doesn’t mean bend over backwards to do anything they ask for; it means listen to them, respond carefully, and show your expertise while appreciating theirs.
4. Not having a review schedule
When you don’t have a review schedule laid out and agreed upon from the very beginning of the video production process, you are asking for blown deadlines and unhappy clients.
By layering reviews as discussed above, you also have a natural way to lay out a review schedule. It could look something like this:
- First edit w/ storyline/structure approval required by 4pm, May 14th
- Second edit w/ production quality approval required by 4pm, May 18th
- Final edit w/ sign off from legal and compliance required by 4pm, May 22nd
- Delivery to client at 12pm, May 25th
Ensure your client understands the lack of wiggle room, and that any delay on their part will put the delivery date in jeopardy, and come with extra costs (delays mean downtime for your staff, which effectively costs you money, so you should have no qualms about passing this expense on).
So many video projects can get unnecessarily stressful with someone on the production side having to stay up until 3am to do the final render and deliver the files. A better alternative? Ensure your schedule (that is now complete with times, not just dates) allows for a midday finish, giving you the afternoon to deliver beautifully presented files complete with handwritten note from the director of your company and a bunch of flowers.
With a well-defined brief, robust review schedule, and a layered critical dialogue around the feedback, you will soon be approaching review nirvana, where each round of client feedback makes the work better. Tightening up your review-and-approval process will not only dramatically improve your company’s overall efficiency (and therefore revenue), it’ll make your working life and client relationships infinitely more enjoyable. The only question is, why haven’t you started already?
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- How to Spark Client Feedback That’ll Improve Your Video - August 1, 2017