Freelancers: Do You Want to Positively Build Your Online Reputation?
The ART of Getting and Responding to Customer Reviews
As freelancers, we all know how important customer reviews are and how hard it is to get them, especially those positive ones and when we first started. We know that online customer reviews are influential and necessary for us to stay competitive as they are social proof that attracts more clients. Online reviews can be the first thing a potential customer goes to before deciding to buy something or not.
We know building and managing our online reputation is essential for our success. But clients don’t automatically leave their reviews after they receive the product or service we provide. The fact is that most people don’t actually want to write reviews for the products or services they purchased unless we give them a reason to do so.
I’ve received over 1,100 five-star reviews on fiverr.com where I provide PDF form design service. I’ve created this guide to help improve your chance of getting reviews and to save you time and headaches in replying to them. You will find tips and samples on how to encourage clients to write reviews. You will also learn how to respond to their reviews so that you raise your portfolio’s visibility and attract more buyers on the platform you are working. You will get ready-made templates to use for different scenarios.
Sounds good? Let’s go!
Each time you complete an order and the client is satisfied, ask him/her to rate and write a review about the timeliness and quality of your work. The review will become part of your portfolio, and future clients will find it much easier to trust you knowing that someone who has worked with you is happy with the results.
The client rates your performance that reflects his/her overall experience. When you ask properly, your clients will likely write a review for you if you have provided an excellent product or service and communicated positively. When I complete an order, I always let my client know that I appreciate his/her business and that I am there for him/her. My clients always rate and review when I ask them.
Here are a few samples you can use in your delivery message:
|I really enjoyed working with you on this project. |
Would you please rate and review the order for me? By letting others know about the quality and timely service you received, you are also helping me build my profile on [platform].
Thank you, and I look forward to continuing working with you on future projects.
|Thank you for the opportunity to work with you. I am thrilled that you are pleased with the result! |
Would you mind taking a few minutes to write a review about the quality and timely service you received? Your comments help others know what to expect when they’re looking for the service I offer.
Thank you, and I look forward to future opportunities with you.
|I am glad to hear that you are pleased with the result. |
[platform] takes customers’ opinions seriously and your review would really help to raise my seller profile. Would you please write a short review about the quality and timely service you received?
Thank you very much, and I hope you’d consider my service for your next project.
While customer reviews help you, they are intended to help potential buyers in their decision-making process. Don’t ask for positive reviews or offer incentives to get them because reviews are supposed to be truthful, unbiased, and uninfluenced. It may also be against the platform’s policies for sellers to solicit feedback changes from clients in exchange for refunds, discounts, upgrades, or any other type of additional benefit.
After a client leaves a review, you have an opportunity to comment. Use this often overlooked and under-utilized feature to market your products or services and increase their search rankings.
As your responses will be read by potential customers over the future months and years, they deserve your time and careful thoughts. When it is done correctly, responding to a review is a great marketing tool to grow your reputation and your business. Respond to every review; it is an excellent opportunity to publish public relations content.
In this chapter, I will show you how to use my ART model to respond to reviews. Using this model, you will be able to respond effectively to positive and negative reviews with ease.
There are three parts in the ART model:
A = Acknowledge
R = Recite
T = Tell
The first part of your response is about expressing your feelings. Use this part to acknowledge your client by conveying your appreciation or showing your understanding of the situation.
The second part is about you or your service. Use this portion to recite facts, the benefits or terms of your service, or details about your process. This is where you’ll want to highlight your values, expertise, and professionalism through your response.
The third part is about your availability. Use this section to tell all clients that you are always available, willing, and ready to work with them to create solutions or resolve issues.
In the next two sections: Responses to positive reviews and Responses to negative reviews, you will see all the sample statements organized based on the three parts of the ART model. Each statement can be used as is or modified to suit the situation and your personality. For each response, you can use one or more statements in different order, and it is best to use one statement from each part and in this order (except those marked with an asterisk which can be used alone):
Acknowledge: Include statements that show your genuine interest in working with other people toward their success. You want to let potential buyers know that they will enjoy working with you through your interactions with your previous clients.
Recite: Include statements that show you have the expertise and skills to deliver solutions. You want to demonstrate that you are capable of providing value and taking care of problems. You want all buyers to know that they can count on you for what they need.
Tell: Include statements to show that you are approachable and eager. You want to let all buyers know that you will be there whenever they need you.
Where there are square brackets, select the appropriate choice or replace with wording that applies to your situation. Replace “service” with the service or task that you provided to the client. For example, I will use “fillable PDF form design,” “Adobe fillable PDF forms,” or “form design service” for my service. Inserting keywords like that helps bring more of the right kind of buyers to your portfolio’s page. These keywords increase your chance of being discovered by search engines as people use them in their searches.
For example, if I were to respond to a positive review and I pick numbers 2 under Acknowledge, 14 under Recite, and 51 under Tell in the Responses to positive reviews section:
2. It was [my pleasure / always a great joy / honour]
14. I work hard to [please my clients / help my clients build successful business / make sure all my clients receive the best work possible].
51. If you need any additional [service] work in the future, I would be [happy / honoured] to assist!
Then my responses may look like these:
|It was my pleasure working with you. I work hard to help my clients build a successful business. If you need any additional Adobe fillable PDF forms in the future, I would be happy to assist!|
|It was always a great joy to serve you. I work hard to make sure all my clients receive the best work possible. If you need any additional Adobe fillable PDF forms in the future, I would be honoured to assist!|
If I were to respond to a negative review where a client has unrealistic expectations, and I pick numbers 52 under Acknowledge, 64 under Recite, and 74 under Tell in the Responses to negative reviews section:
52. I am [sorry / disappointed][you feel that way / to see such a low review that doesn’t match the work delivered / that you believe my work was only satisfactory / that you are unhappy / you didn’t receive the service that you expected / that I couldn’t be more helpful].
64. Unfortunately, there is a limit to the work that I can do [with such a low amount / for dollar amount].
74. I invite you to come back to show you that [I’m serious about good customer service / I provide the best value for
Then my response may look like this:
|I am sorry you feel that way. Unfortunately, there is a limit to the work that I can do with such a low amount. I invite you to come back to show that I provide the best value for fillable PDF form design.|
Imagine you are a potential buyer, would the previous response be more helpful with your buying decision than the following?
|Seriously? Just like those greedy people, you expected the world in return for such measly amount!!! Why didn’t you go somewhere else then? It is not fair that you gave me a poor review!|
Use the sample
statements to create a document with the responses that you’d likely use. Copy
and paste the appropriate responses when
you want to use, but avoid using the same response
to several subsequent reviews.
Responding to good reviews is a way to distinguish you as a caring and friendly freelancer. You get to elaborate on the great things that the client has mentioned and to thank him/her publicly when he/she has expressed kind words about you.
- I am [glad / happy / thrilled] that I was able to [help / impress you with my service and professionalism / could be of service / exceed your expectations / provide the kind of work you needed / provide the options to help you build your business / be of assistance / be of such valued service to your business / be part of your project / improve upon those previous bad experiences you had / remove some of the confusion and uncertainty for you / offer a successful, memorable experience / lend my skills and talents to your project / find the perfect solution that matches your business needs / assist you in building your business / that you enjoyed the outcome].
- It was [my pleasure / always a great joy / honour] [working with you / to serve you].
- I am [glad / happy / thrilled] that I delivered [exactly what you were looking for / more than you were expecting].
- I’m humbled [by your review / to have played a small part in this project]!
- I am [glad / happy / thrilled] to hear [that I impressed you / how happy you are with the [service] work that I delivered / that your experience with me was so exceptional / the work I provided was helpful to your business]!
- It is an honour to be considered one of the best [service].
- I’m [glad / happy / thrilled] to see that my [service] work is [exactly what you were looking for / so close to what you were envisioning / helpful to you and your business].
- I enjoyed working on your project.
- I appreciate the [high ratings / raving review / kind words / generous tip / great recommendation]! It means a lot to me that [this is the result of the service I provide].
- I’m [glad / happy / thrilled] that [we could get the project worked out, and that the final results were great / you chose me for your [service] needs].
- I appreciate the opportunity, and I am grateful for your [thoughtful review / generous tip / fantastic recommendation].
- Your feedback makes me smile.
- You’ve just made my day!
- I work hard to [please my clients / help my clients build successful business / make sure all my clients receive the best work possible].
- My clients will never receive anything less.
- [Professionalism /quality] is always my #1 goal.
- I aim to please.
- I love [exceeding expectations]!
- I’m always [happy to help / available].
- Helping my clients to [service] is my top priority.
- Doing [service] is what I do best.
- I love [impressing / able to impress] my clients with great [service] work!
- I care very much about what my clients need.
- [Quality, value, and professionalism] are three things that I always include in every order.
- I always enjoy [building relationships] with repeat clients like you!
- I love working with repeat clients!
- [Professionalism and thoroughness] come standard with every order.
- [Honesty / value / quality] will always be part of every order that I complete.
- I always do my best to [match the needs of all of my clients].
- My clients always receive [my best work].
- I [deliver exactly] what I promise.
- [Quality / value] is at the top of my list when it comes to delivering [service]
- I enjoy [delivering more than my clients expect].
- [“Outstanding Experience”] is the kind of review I am always striving for.
- [Personal dedication] to every client order is my goal.
- I always strive to [provide the highest possible level of work] for all of my clients.
- I take my [service] work seriously, and I ensure that it fully meets my client’s needs.
- Helping my clients on [service] is something I genuinely enjoy!
- My goal is to [help my clients succeed]. Getting to know them and working to understand what they need is part of that process.
- [Taking the time and effort to do a great job] is what makes my services here so unique and beneficial.
- [Service] are my forte.
- I’d love to [be part of your growing business]!
- I would [love / be happy / be honoured] to [work with you again / be on your list of favourite sellers]!
- I look forward to the opportunity to do [service] work for you sometime down the road.
- When you look for [service] work again, [I would be happy to offer my professional services then as well / you know where to find me].
- I am always happy to [help / assist / provide [service] work].
- I look forward to the opportunity to work with you on [service] again.
- I look forward to [future opportunities / working again] with you!
- Should the opportunity arise again in the future, I would work with you [in a heartbeat once more]!
- I hope to see you again soon!
- If you need any additional [service] work in the future, I would be [happy / honoured] to assist!
Negative feedback not only affects your seller rating, but it also affects potential sales and your psyche. There are occasions when a client threatens to leave a negative review for various reasons, such as a way to express their expectation or dissatisfaction, an attempt to get additional work done, or simply because he/she misunderstands how something is supposed to work.
I had this experience one time when a client was upset after I delivered the work. The client said that he didn’t see all the changes I had made on his form and he could have made those changes that he saw himself. He was not happy!
When I first read the message, I was surprised because our exchanges up to this point had been pleasant. Then I got upset too because I had not only expedited the order at my client’s request, I’d also made many changes for him without charge.
After taking a few minutes to calm down, I rechecked the work I delivered to make sure it was the right file. I then made a quick screen video to show how to use the form and where the changes were. I attached the video to a message to the client explaining what I did. Instead of being defensive, I remained respectful, courteous, and sincere. I asked him to review the video and get back to me with any questions or concerns.
Shortly after, I received his reply apologizing for his mistake and behaviour. Turned out he had not followed the instructions I provided earlier and used a wrong program to open the form. He left his first of many raving reviews and became one of my happy repeat clients since.
I know that understanding and willing to work with clients do not always guarantee a positive outcome as life happens beyond anyone’s control—projects and budgets change, emergencies and crises ensue, and acts of nature occur. Also, that the more reviews you get, the more likely you are to get one or more bad reviews. So what do you do when you find yourself in this situation?
It is hard not to get disappointed or upset when you receive a bad review, especially when you believe you did everything to please the client. It is easy to feel hurt and respond in anger, but there’s no rush to publish a rebuttal in emotional moments.
Fighting back a bad review is not the best idea, even when you don’t agree or when the reviewer behaves badly. When you argue and use unkind words in trying to discredit or prove someone wrong, others will see you as an immature individual and may not want to deal with you. Besides, clients who left negative feedback are less likely coming back for more business, and they may not even see your responses so focusing on the undesirable situation is counter-productive. It is better to make the best out of a bad experience by focusing on how to enhance or protect the image of your business.
A great response to a negative review can be effective at creating a positive impression for your business because it gives you an opportunity to demonstrate caring and correct facts.
A great response to a negative review can be effective at creating a positive impression for your business because it gives you an opportunity to demonstrate caring and correct facts.
When you receive a bad review, check it to see if there is anything within it that is actually truthful. If there is, let the client know quickly that you will do everything in your power to satisfy him/her. This may mean you need to spend more time to redo the work. Make the client feel that you care about him/her more than you do about the image of your business or your feelings.
I learned that sometimes, owning up to your mistakes and thanking the customer for taking the time to share their issues can go a long way. Sometimes a client is not satisfied no matter what you do. In that case, respond to the review with grace and respect. It’s okay to humanize the situation by admitting that you made a mistake and apologize. Your future buyers understand that nobody is perfect.
But if you receive a few bad reviews complaining about the same issue, you need to look into the underlying problem. Consider describing and communicating your service clearer or providing some supporting content for common concerns. You may also have to do an honest assessment as to whether you have the right set of skills to perform the service.
- I am [sorry / disappointed][you feel that way / to see such a low review that doesn’t match the work delivered / that you believe my work was only satisfactory / that you are unhappy / you didn’t receive the service that you expected / that I couldn’t be more helpful].
- I am [sorry / surprised] to hear [of your experience / you had a regretful experience].
- I’m sorry to hear that the one [idea / option] didn’t quite fit what you were looking, but I am glad that the rest of your experience was good.
- I apologize for this unfortunate experience.
- I wish [things had turned out differently / I was able to do more for you].
- I appreciate your [suggestion / comment].
- I value your [helpful feedback / thoughtful comment / great suggestion] and made changes accordingly.
- If I had more communication about your [expectations / requirements], I would have [fulfilled them for you].
- If I were [made aware of any issues], I’d have been more than happy to [resolve them for you].
- If I had more information about [you / your business…], I could [provide the level of service excellence I stand for].
- I wished [you had opted for a refund instead of having to write this review].
- I wished you had [explained what would make you happy] so that I had a chance to do so.
- Unfortunately, there is a limit to the work that I can do [with such a low amount / for dollar amount].
- Unfortunately, I was only able to [deliver work based upon the details you shared with me / do the amount of work based on the amount you paid / within the terms and conditions for my service].
- Unfortunately, I do not offer free [revisions / work / advice / rework].
- I wanted to assure you that your order was [completed in the order it was received / completed with care].
- I am normally known for [my exceptional attention to detail / analytical skill], and I regret that I missed the mark this time.
- I’ve always [provided exceptional service / communicated actively]; however, I understand that you are entitled to your opinion.
- It may be possible that you’ve left this review for the wrong order since [I don’t offer this [service]].*
- Since this review [violates the Terms of Service / is inappropriate], it has been reported.*
- I’d love to have a chance to [make it right for you].
- I promise to give you […] next time.
- I invite you to come back to show you that [I’m serious about good customer service / I provide the best value for [service]].
- Please let me know how I could [make this right for you].
- I’d like to offer you [a discount on the next project] due to this experience.
- I [will make / have made] improvements based on your [suggestions / comments] and I hope you’ll give my service another try.
- I hope for another opportunity to [earn back your business].
An objective customer review has more impact than advertising, tweeting or direct mailing because it matters more what others say about you than what you say about your business.
Getting reviews is a part of running your freelancing business. The success of your business depends significantly on reviews so encouraging clients to leave them is a skill you’ll need to master.
Bad reviews don’t always affect your business, but how you handle a negative situation can. Listen to and address clients’ feedback immediately before they leave a negative review. You may have a chance to turn an unhappy client into a happy repeat client. Sometimes a client is not satisfied no matter what you do, and you end up with a bad review. Handle negative reviews with grace and consider them an opportunity to improve.
The best path to having great reviews is to offer a great product or service along with an impressive customer experience. If you’re doing all you can to create a remarkable experience for your clients, there’s no reason not to remind them about the importance of sharing their reviews.
Potential buyers want to know whether to invest money with you when they are reading your reviews. Since reviews directly influence the critical moment of the buying decision process, creating a great impression with your responses is one of the most influential marketing activities you can do for your freelancing business.
All the best with your freelancing business and may you get all the reviews you want.This page is a free resource, part of Because Money Matters: How to Earn More Money as a Freelancer in a Gig Economy, which is available for purchase (in eBook and paperback formats) and includes downloadable free tools, checklists, and templates.
The other books in this series: Because Money Matters: The 8 Principles to Build Your Wealth and Because Money Matters: How to Find and Get a Better Job are also available in eBook and paperback formats.© All rights reserved 2018 by V. V. Cam. This includes the right to reproduce any portion of this book in any form, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or with written permission from the author.
Disclaimer: The general information provided in this book may not apply to your specific situation. The information is accurate as of the publication date and it is subject to change. All links to websites, companies and service providers are provided for your convenience only. Please consult individual websites for current information regarding their practice, policies and pricing, etc.
The author is neither an attorney nor an accountant. Please consult with the appropriate personnel or agencies in your country for advice on legal and taxation matters.