“Kind of nebulous, but we think we know what she means?”
I recently heard a fellow Noggin say this in reference to some client feedback he had received. His comment has all the strappings of a typical response-to-feedback: use of the word nebulous, language that indicates he is guessing at what the client wants, ending the sentence with an upward inflection to signify both hope and fear.
We end up doing a lot of guesswork in areas where we could have better, more detailed information. We don’t plan for it to happen like this, but sometimes it’s inevitable: the client feedback just isn’t good enough. Don’t worry, though. My holiday gift to you this year is a trusty, step-by-step guide on how to give feedback to your custom e-learning vendor. Or, really, any creative professional you find yourself collaborating with.
DEFINE THE PROBLEM
I can’t tell you how often we go through client feedback and see comments such as, “I don’t like this.” Don’t get me wrong—your feelings and opinions are valid, and if you don’t like something, we deserve to know. But course feedback, or “bugs” as we say in Noggin Land, is tracked per screen, so when you say you don't like something, it could pertain to any number of elements. Maybe you’re referring to a content inaccuracy; maybe you’re referring to the way the activity functions; maybe you’re referring to the sound of the narrator’s voice. Whatever it is you’re not feeling, we need to know about it—in detail.
DON’T BE PRESCRIPTIVE
Lots of detail is a good thing. We just established that. But there comes a tipping point in the feedback process where you can go from helpful to…well, not very helpful. You’re paying us to figure out solutions to your problems, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense when you start offering solutions as well. Suggestions are welcome, but the waters are quickly muddied when too many voices claim to have the “right” answer. Trust us when we say we know what we’re doing. Our teams are filled out with talented people who use their skills and expertise to come up with solutions. Just tell us, very specifically, what you hate and we’ll take it from there.
WHY DO YOU WANT THE CHANGE?
This kind of context and guidance can be crucial when fixing the problem. If you tell us we can’t use the color blue because of brand standards, this informs our future use of the color blue in your course. We like having this kind of information. We also consider ourselves perfectionists, and seemingly arbitrary fixes are sometimes hard for us to swallow.
Let’s practice what we’ve learned so far. Check out the screenshot from our own website. Below are examples of productive feedback and not-so-productive feedback that someone might give.
"I'd like the shape of the word bubbles to be a little more consistent to one another. "
We like this kind of feedback. You told us what you didn’t like, why it should change, and a gentle nudge in the right direction.
"I don’t like the word bubbles"
We don’t like this kind of feedback. What don’t you like about the word bubbles? Do you dislike the words that are inside of them? Or do you dislike the actual shape? Remember: we’re pretty good at our jobs, but that doesn’t make us mind readers.
Let’s try one more.
"Can we adjust the copy so that it more clearly prepares the audience's expectations of Labs@NogginLabs?"
This kind of feedback is very appreciated. We understand exactly what needs to change about the language, but the feedback was not too prescriptive.
"This is not clear to me."
What, exactly, is not clear to you? While it's easy to react to the first thing you see on a screen, remember to stay specific and walk us through your thought process. This will make it easier on everyone, we promise.
We love working at NogginLabs. We get to create cool, custom content for all of our amazing clients. Any time we can quickly get to the heart of what needs to change in a deliverable, we are much happier Noggins indeed.