busy-client.pngYou need questions answered, feedback on designs, and sign-offs before you can move forward with a project, but your client has ignored every request you've sent over. She has her own priorities, and frankly, the projects your agency is managing are at the bottom of her list. 

While understandable, it causes your work to grind to a halt. And depending on the size of the client and project, these sorts of delays can negatively impact other project workflows -- and cash flow.

Over time, I found methods that have helped me keep projects running smoothly, even with the busiest of clients. 

5 Ways to Get a Response From a Busy Client

1) Get Preemptive Feedback

Creative professionals should critique their own work with a critical eye. This isn’t easy though, at least not under a deadline rush, so try and have someone else -- a colleague, mentor or trusted freelancer -- assess the work with the client's mindset.

Depending on the relationship with the client, you could make changes and edits after this internal round of feedback, or you might send an email explaining that you are considering make X, Y, or Z changes and providing the reasons why. It shows the client you can see the project from her point of view. It will also serve as a polite nudge to move the project forward from her side. 

2) Keep Feedback Simple

Busy clients don’t have time to review 10 options for a call-to-action button, three versions of web copy, or approve a list of 100 social media updates. Even with larger clients, as I have found, more staff doesn’t always mean more time. It often results in the opposite.

An agency-client relationship should always be firmly built on trust, which means it should not be one where the client feels the need to micromanage the agency. At the same time, an agency should know a client well enough to deliver so close to the target that feedback should never take much time.

If you have a long list of items to get approved, provide the client with just a few examples to show that the work is in line with their brand. Ask for approval on the style and approach, and get the permission to move forward. 

3) Deliver Only Your Best Work

The less impressed a client is with the work, the longer it will take them to give feedback. It becomes an unpleasant task so they push it to the bottom of their already long to-do list. 

Not only does this put your relationship at risk, but it delays other workflow items.

Only send over work that you are extremely proud of and that has already been checked for errors and mistakes by multiple individuals. It will build trust for future projects, and make it easier for the client to give her stamp of approval. 

4) Support Creative With Data

Another way to keep feedback short, sweet, and simple is to support judgment calls with data. Historical data gathered from the brand could show why the audience/customers would respond well to any creative or design-led changes that you are recommending.

You could also run A/B tests or do user testing prior to submitting work for review so that you can provide the client with real data around what versions perform best and what changes need to be made prior to launch. Or you could get approval to share the creative with a small number of the brand's customers or staffers to gather qualitative information. All this helps make the decision to move forward easier on the client. 

5) Keep the Ask Simple

Ask specific questions that allow the client to say "yes" or "no." Give them a limited number of options to consider. Make it easy for them to provide useful design feedback so they don't spend hours looking for something to change just so they have feedback to give. 


Originally published Feb 18, 2016 7:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017


Agency and Client Relationship