It’s the end of the year and everyone is getting retrospective, including your editors and clients. What will they remember most? Your killer copy? That amazing lede (lead) you wrote? How many times you were late with an article? How hard you are to critique?
If you’ve been naughty you can’t rewrite the past, but you can begin to repair your reputation with clients and editors by asking one simple question:
How can I better serve you?
Writing is a business and you provide a service. Good customer service will keep you in business for years to come so why not poll your customers? This simple question will acknowledge two things: 1. You are interested in improving and 2. You are interested in making the client happy. When a client knows this they are more likely to be filled with warm Christmas cheer toward you and your deadline near-misses.
There are two consequences to asking the question, one is once you ask, you have to followup on their feedback. Feedback, whether your reputation is pristine or a little spotty, can be tough to take. It’s important to remember that when you ask for feedback you are prepared to listen and see things from the client’s perspective. Often, clients will have simple suggestions and by making adjustments you can improve your vendor/client relationship dramatically.
The other bummer is that the big question can’t fix it all. If you’re a chronic deadline misser or like Rick James, a habitual line crosser, you may have a tougher time selling your clients on your services for another year. When the client brings up the elephant in the room, forget the excuses and fall on your sword. It sucks to be called on something you yourself know is wrong, but think of it as an opportunity to say “I understand your concern, I’m aware of the problem and (important point) here’s how I plan to fix it.”
Your editors and clients care about your family and your health, but they care about their own bottom lines and stress levels more. They need solutions and reassurance. Asking “How can I better serve you?” is a great way to start the conversation.
Do you have a plan for year-end evaluation?