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Advice post: Bad feedback from client?

Hi again.

This is the second time this has happened to me, but back in August I finished a fursuit head for a client who commissioned it in January. They were supposed to have it paid off MONTHS before I shipped it out to them (I think April/May) but kept putting it off. The base was completed months before the fur was added on.
However, they received the head and never contacted me after.

Now they're selling it (which I have no issue with) but point out problems they never brought up to me, such as the fursuit head not looking like their character and issues with communication when I sent them regular WIPs. I'm more than positive, however, that they're upset and bringing up drama because I un-added them on Facebook since they were getting into fights with my friends on my posts after I told them to stop.

Before this, I had another client commission me but pay more promptly, but nit-pick on the foaming and then upon receiving the item, never mention anything that was wrong with it and then write a fursuit review on it with pretty much everything you could imagine being wrong that, again, was never pointed out to me.

Is there really anything I can do to prevent this from happening in the future? Others have told me not to stress out about it since it's 2 out of god knows how many fursuits I've built, but it's what they have to say that really soils it for me. I can't improve or do anything if it's not pointed out to me.

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Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
jakejynx
Oct. 25th, 2015 10:52 pm (UTC)
Might be a weird question, but how much do you charge for heads?
laughsatthunder
Oct. 25th, 2015 10:59 pm (UTC)
$550 for a toony head, $650 for a realistic head.

EDIT: These are my prices since late August, both examples here were before my prices changed after I figured out how many hours go into making my fursuits and I upgraded my materials.

Edited at 2015-10-25 11:00 pm (UTC)
jakejynx
Oct. 26th, 2015 02:22 am (UTC)
Take what I say with a grain of salt because I'm pretty ill right now and doped up on a lot of meds.

But this sort of thing seems to be more common in people who have lower prices. And your prices are pushing towards the lower end. You get strange clients when your prices are on the cheap side. They either expect super spectacular pro level work and are never satisfied, or they view your work as cheap and crappy and will never think it's very good.

I'm not saying your prices are the problem, or that changing your prices would stop it from happening, I've just noticed a strange anecdotal correlation.

All that said, I would recommend in the future sending a final correspondence. Either print it out on your own letterhead and put it on the box with the item, or send a final email. Thank them again for commissioning you, remind them of your warranty if you have one, and tell them you value and encourage feedback, both good and bad. It might work, it might not, but at least you'll have gone that extra mile to try and get what you can from your customers.
laughsatthunder
Oct. 26th, 2015 11:37 am (UTC)
In short, I completely agree with you.

I've had very strange clients in the past and very strange quotes, I absolutely agree that it's because of the lower prices. They're still considerably lower for the amount of time and materials that goes into them but I don't feel safe raising the prices again for a little while so I can improve even more and maybe spark new interest in new clients. Every time I've raised my prices people have said that they thought it was more fair for me to do that but it would take longer to save up for (which I don't mind), so as long as I'm not getting the people who go 4 months past their final pay date and complain about something unrelated to the fursuits itself.

I recently bought these custom small cards that I can stick in with packages that I tape a Dum Dum to, they say something along the lines of "Thank you for your order! I look forward to working with you again and appreciate your business!"
celestinaketzia
Oct. 25th, 2015 10:59 pm (UTC)
There's not much you can do except learn from what they bring up in their reviews. People will be afraid of confrontation, and will sometimes opt to not say anything. Which really isn't fair when you're building physical items, but that's sometimes how the cookie crumbles.

A couple of things you can consider is how you put yourself forward. Would people feel comfortable coming to you about issues with their suit? If you give out an air of "oh do please come tell me!" and they still don't, well that's on them.

Second, for person Two their hesitation on bringing up the issues with the head could have stemmed from the foaming area. If they felt you didn't want to deal with it anymore, they may have just opted to not say anything.
laughsatthunder
Oct. 25th, 2015 11:05 pm (UTC)
It's just frustrating because I want to learn how to hone my craft and get better, y'know? In January I'll be reaching my 6th year anniversary since my first fursuit, I've come a long way but there's still so much more I can fix.

I have had clients come to me before, but it was always about what they liked and never had any issues. While it was very reassuring, it didn't help me too much with improving. I think the last person who came to me and critiqued my work was about a year ago, he just said one eye on his realistic suit was slightly higher than the other but he liked everything else. And that did help me! But that was 2014.

Person two nit-picked EVERYTHING. At the time I didn't know I had the option to refund them and turn the suit into something else. Learned so much from that one person.
celestinaketzia
Oct. 25th, 2015 11:23 pm (UTC)
Ah, I found the second review in question. That really could have been handled a lot better. But as you said, you know now that you can refund and walk away. Definitely don't ever be afraid to do that.

I agree with a lot of the technical aspects the client brought up, and really? That's all you can take away from it is to improve your suits in the future. It's a shame they couldn't come forward, but running into a bad transaction happens every now and then.
laughsatthunder
Oct. 25th, 2015 11:31 pm (UTC)
That case was so awkward for me because I suddenly got all these notes from artists and fursuit makers, got a ton of Watchers, had NO idea what was going on. Somehow a negative review did something positive for me. Even after giving them a refund it's left a bad taste in my mouth.

All I was told by them was, "I want a full refund." They never told me what was wrong. At the same time, though, there's a difference between criticism and "it's all wrong, everything is wrong." It breaks my heart when I see other artists go through that when they draw something. :[
jakejynx
Oct. 26th, 2015 02:27 am (UTC)
Do you know any other local makers? I don't speak for anyone but myself, but I'm always willing to offer help or critique to others. Maybe someone else who does suits could help you out with some critique?
laughsatthunder
Oct. 26th, 2015 11:31 am (UTC)
Not going to mention names because I'm unsure how they would feel about it, but I have 2 other fursuits makers added on Facebook (one local) and they really do help A LOT. Sadly there aren't a lot of other makers in my state and it's incredibly hostile between all of them, I don't know if they feel like it's competition or what.
mortymaxwell
Oct. 26th, 2015 12:47 am (UTC)
My two cents:

1) You might consider adding something to your FAQ, making it clear there are certain limitations to wearing fursuits and the types of things you are able to build. Some people are going to come in expecting to have perfect vision in their fursuit heads, for example. This way if you get someone coming in with unrealistic expectations, you can point them to it, and they can think about what they want. There's a chance they may continue to have unrealistic expectations, anyway, and nitpick and not be satisfied, but at least you were upfront and presented all the information to them.

2) Be careful with tone. At one point, you had a clause in your terms of service that made it sound like you would rush a costume if someone annoyed you. **I know this was not how you intended that to sound** just saying that to some people, stuff like that could come across as intimidating and make them reluctant to interact with you/or provide feedback.

3) Ask questions during the commission process that invite the customer to give feedback. "Hey, what do you think of this? More like this, or more like this?"




Edited at 2015-10-26 03:00 am (UTC)
laughsatthunder
Oct. 26th, 2015 11:41 am (UTC)
1) I think I have that clause in there somewhere, it's too early in the morning right now. :P I pride myself in my vision and ventilation on my suits but it does take time to adjust to, especially for people who have never worn a fursuits before.

2) Yeah, I had some help from the people here to reword it so it didn't sound that way, had that used against me by person 2 in my post (when it was actually put in there from a client who messaged me at 4am asking if her fursuits made it through the night. Not a joke).

3) I've been doing that but since this I've made sure to do it more.
whoop_zi
Oct. 28th, 2015 07:19 am (UTC)
this isn't really relevant to the thread, i just wanted to point out to the mods that the fursuit tag is misspelled here!
laughsatthunder
Oct. 28th, 2015 11:38 am (UTC)
It may not be relevant but it is important! :)
kadaria
Oct. 29th, 2015 03:14 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, even if you are the best game in town for what you do you will always see negative reviews. It is actually very rare that people use a feedback service like Yelp to leave a good or kind review. They are way more likely to invest in writing a review if they have a negative experience. This is why fast food businesses looking for a good review or honest survey tend to offer something in exchange for just leaving any kind of review, good or bad.
So my advice would be to learn from those reviews, and do what you can to keep your reputation intact. Accept that some of them will be negative (you can't hit a homerun every time after all).
-Use those reviews to learn from your mistakes.
-Ask all of your customers to review your work (at the risk of getting those negative reviews) and offer a list of places to do so.
-Is there anything in those reviews that you can rectify? What about your warranty?
-Protect yourself from "vengeful customers" by making sure that your website and advertising show your best work (semi professional photos from all angles, examples of your stitching and process).
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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