I Didn’t Get a 5-Star Review — and I Agree with Them
Working on a freelance platform makes managing a freelance writing business fairly simple. While I don’t often accept random orders from new clients, I have the ability to open up my page and allow people to purchase one of my predefined packages.
It means that when I have some availability, I can open up my page for orders and just watch them trickle in.
Normally, my clients are very happy with my work. My page is covered in 800+ 5-star reviews, and I’ve always been really proud of my ranking on the website.
A lot of the time, when I get a review that isn’t a 5-star rating, it is for something simple. It might be because the client didn’t understand the package or didn’t communicate some of the details that they actually wanted for the content (sadly, my psychic powers are still lying dormant). Every once in a while, it comes down to stylistic preference — and that’s fine.
In this case, the client gave me a 4.7-star review on a piece of work that I was really proud of — and I realized that he was right.
When someone places an order on my page, I have standard turnaround times. These times are designed to allow for the project to fit in my existing schedule in addition to providing a high-quality product.
Unfortunately, when I open up for orders and quite a few come in, I can end up missing the notifications that announce them. While I will see them in my dashboard, it can be impossible to distinguish between new orders and ones that I have already addressed.
If there are a few, it suddenly becomes easy to forget one of the most important parts of the new order process: a greeting message.
While my life would no doubt be easier if I just wrote one of the optional automatic messages, that has never been my style. Personally, I like to greet new clients and address their content needs directly.
I’m sure plenty of people rely on templates, but that feels so impersonal to me, and I believe that harms my ability to make good content. I like to reach out to each client and talk about their order to make sure that they know that they are in good hands and that I care.
Sometimes people reply and sometimes they don’t, but it is a business practice that I hold because I like to connect with my clients whenever possible and make sure that I am approachable in case they need anything else. It’s just good customer service.
At least, it’s good customer service if you remember to say hello, which I failed to do.
On the day that I received the order, I received quite a few others as well. Even though I sent out plenty of greeting messages, this one poor client was left out of the loop.
He didn’t know that I cared about his business or how impressed I was with his resume. He didn’t know that I marveled over his long list of professional accomplishments. In fact, he didn’t know anything, because my first message to him was when I delivered his order.
Given his background, I was a little surprised that I didn’t hear back from that initial message — but it happens. Actually, a lot of clients breeze in and out without a single hello, and I’ve gotten fairly used to it over the years.
When I realized my mistake, I was beyond embarrassed.
The moment came to submit the order, and I noticed that there was a gaping hole where my message would have been. The anxiety set in, and I addressed it in the submission, apologizing profusely.
He accepted the order shortly after I submitted it, and I was afraid to see his review. It was a blatant lack of professionalism on my end, so I expected the worst given his background.
The 4.7-star review came as a surprise, not because it wasn’t a 5-star review, but because I fully believed that I deserved worse.
My freelance site breaks reviews down into three categories, with five stars in each one.
Right there, under Communication with Seller, was only four stars — and I felt it in my bones. It was a generous rating in the category, and we both knew it.
Even though he could have told the world about how I never said a word, he actually left me a very nice written review and five stars in the other categories. I was quietly grateful but disappointed in myself all the same.
He did not contact me for more work, and we both knew why.
I’ve been running a full-time freelance business for a couple of years now, and it is something that I love. I’m a top performer in my marketplace and my clients are genuinely pleased with my work in most cases, but that doesn’t mean that I am immune to making silly mistakes.
While this story did not end in tragedy, it does serve as a reminder that it is easy to get swept up in the emails, reference materials, and content requests no matter how experienced you are.
Sometimes, things pile up and we forget about some of the balls that we are juggling. It was an honest mistake, but it was also a missed opportunity for further collaboration.
Now, I double-check my communications every day — not because of the less-than-perfect review, but because my clients deserve the best, and I want them to know that too.