As a freelance proofreader, you will hopefully experience nothing but happy, satisfied clients. However, most freelancers will receive negative feedback at some point. And the question then is how you respond! Our top three tips on this count include:
- Don’t take negative feedback personally or react emotionally. Instead, try to put your personal feelings aside and respond professionally.
- Be empathetic, listen to what the client says, and ask questions. If you don’t understand why they’re unhappy, you won’t be able to resolve the issue.
- Once you’ve established the problem, offer solutions. And if no solution is available, try to find another way to make up for the unresolved issue.
For more advice on dealing with negative client feedback, check out our full guide below.
1. Don’t Take Negative Feedback Personally
Negative feedback can feel like a personal attack. And it’s natural to feel defensive when somebody criticizes your work. But you can’t let this affect your response!
If you take feedback personally and respond emotionally, you could come across as angry or unprofessional. And that will immediately set you in conflict with your client.
Instead, try to distance yourself from the criticism. If needed, take some time to compose yourself before responding (responding promptly is great, but saying the right thing is more important). And remember that negative feedback is a part of the learning process: it can knock your confidence, but it will ultimately help you become a better proofreader.
2. Be Empathetic and Listen to the Client
The idea that the customer is always right is a cliché of marketing. And while it isn’t strictly true, it’s a good starting point for handling negative feedback. Make sure to:
- Apologize to the client so they can see you’re taking their feedback seriously.
- Try to put yourself in your client’s shoes and see the issue from their point of view (e.g., what they are going through and how it has impacted their plans).
- Make a note of the problems the client raises and compare them to the edits you made. If you need to clarify anything, ask polite questions.
Remember that negative feedback is often rooted in frustration or miscommunication. As such, listening sympathetically and asking questions are vital for finding a resolution. Arguing with the client or dismissing their concerns, on the other hand, will get you nowhere.
3. Offer Practical Solutions
Once you’ve established why the client left negative feedback, you need to offer practical solutions or some form of compensation. Typically, for a proofreader, your options include:
- Go over the document once more for free to address the problems raised.
- Offer a discount on the price you were going to charge for the document.
- Offer to proofread their next document for a discounted rate (or for free).
In addition, where relevant, make sure to set out how you will stop the issue arising again (e.g., by tweaking your working process or taking more time to establish the brief before you begin). This will show that you’ve taken their feedback seriously.
Becoming A Proofreader
If you’ve found our advice on dealing with negative feedback helpful, you’ll find much more on proofreading and working freelance in our Becoming A Proofreader course. Sign up for a free trial today to find out more about what it takes to become a proofreader!